I Am a Mother

I Am a Mother

From Chicken Soup for Every Mom's Soul

I Am a Mother

I was in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, getting my hair cut when my husband called. He didn’t even talk to me, but the message he gave to the receptionist was simple, “Stop home on your way to the dentist.” It was a beautiful day in July. I had ended work a few days before and had lined up appointments for all those things one puts off when one is working full-time.

Just the week before, we had finished our home study with the adoption agency, and we were told we probably had at least a couple of months before we would be matched up with a baby. My husband, Joe, and I had gone through eight years of medical intervention for infertility, and for much of that time I believed I could not be a mother. After much soul-searching, Joe and I realized that our goal was to become parents and that adoption was just as wonderful a way of building a family as giving birth. Our adoption counselor told me I would be a mother, but was it really true?

As I was driving down the highway after the haircut, I thought about my husband’s request to stop home. Did he have some time from work to have lunch at home with me? Then I became curious: Joe has no idea where I get my hair cut, so he must have gone to great lengths to track down the phone number. Now, why would he go through all that trouble to find me and just leave a message to stop home? Could it be we got “the call”? Was I a mother already? My heart began to race with excitement, and then I checked myself as I had a dozen times before when we were trying to get pregnant—no, it couldn’t be that.

As I pulled into the driveway, the large quilted heart flag that I had made years before as a Valentine’s present for Joe was hanging over the driveway. Where had he dug that up, and why was it hanging? As he walked out of the house with a champagne bottle in his hand, I knew.

“Joan, you’re the mother of a baby boy!” he told me. Our adoption counselor had called him at work to give him the wonderful news. He filled me in on the details and told me we could pick up our new son the next afternoon.

What should we do first? We weren’t expecting a baby for at least a few months; like a couple that is pregnant, we thought we would have time to plan and get ready. We called our parents first. “Mom, Dad, we have a baby boy!” I told my parents. “Oh, Joan, we’re so happy that you’re a mother,” they said. I didn’t feel any different than I had the day before. When will I know I am a mother? I wondered.

The next twenty-four hours went by quickly, yet I remember every moment in great detail. First, we had to talk with the adoption agency to receive more information and directions. They gave us the phone number of the foster mother who was taking care of our son until we picked him up the next day. We dialed the phone and waited what seemed like eternity for an answer. Mary answered. “Hello,” I said, “this is Joan and Joe. Do you have our baby?” “Oh, yes,” she said, “he’s sitting right here on my lap. Do you hear him?” We listened, and heard his voice for the first time, making his baby sounds.

The next fifteen hours were a rush to complete paperwork, get to the bank for payment to the adoption agency, and get to the mall before it closed to pick up a few basics. Although we knew an adoption would happen in the near future, up until that day I could not allow myself to buy or borrow any baby things. For years, each time I would see the grocery aisle that carries diapers and baby food, I would pass by quickly. I believed that aisle was off-limits to me; I was not a mother. It’s not a very rational feeling, but one that many infertile women experience, even when they are told a baby is coming for them through adoption.

At the department store, we ran into an old acquaintance. “Hello, what’s new?” she asked.

“Oh, nothing,” I said out of habit.

“Oh, everything!” Joe said out of excitement.

We rushed on, leaving the poor woman quite puzzled. I picked out receiving blankets, diapers, bottles, formula and socks (are baby feet really that tiny?). While I was stocking up on the practical things, Joe ran off and found our son’s first stuffed animal—Winnie the Pooh.

Around 1:00 in the morning, while we were trying to figure out how to sterilize bottles, we began to pick a name for the baby. Previously, it was too hard to look at books with baby names; what if our baby never came? Once we picked the name, we tried to get some sleep. Impossible. We had heard his voice, we had given him a name, but was he real? What did he look like? Was he truly going to be ours?

Later that morning, we went to the adoption agency for last-minute paperwork and to meet the birth mother of our son. She had made a careful adoption plan for him and had chosen us to be his parents. It was a very good and touching meeting. She was his birth mother, the one who had given him life, but I was his mother too, the one who would love and care for him every day.

We followed the directions to the foster-care home, and as we pulled up to the house my heart was racing. I don’t remember how I got to the front door. Mary opened the door, and as we walked in, she placed in my arms the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. He looked up at me, and said without words, “You are my mother.” I will never forget that moment, for that was when all my questions ended.

Looking into his eyes, I knew for certain that I had become a mother.

Joan Sedita

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