It was 8 years ago when I stood over the bathroom sink and cried. I had waited for my husband to leave the house and drive off to work before I pulled out the pregnancy test from the bottom of my pocketbook all scrunched up in the CVS bag. I sat down on the toilet, held the stick and peed. I was nervous. My hands were wiggly. Did I pee enough? Did I hold it down at the right angle? Do I put the cover on? Now what? Where do I put this pee covered stick? Millions of thoughts were bouncing off my brain and time couldn’t move slower, but then, all of a sudden, time just stopped. The line was pink. And there was another line next to it. Two pink lines. I stood and stared. I dropped the stick and cried. These were not happy tears. These were tears of fear. ‘How can I be pregnant?!’ I thought. ‘The doctors told me it would take years!’ ‘I’m not ready!’
This was how I found out I was pregnant with our first son. The doctors had prepared me that it would take years to become pregnant naturally if we did not want any fertility intervention. We were planning on adopting a child from Ethiopia, which would also take years. I was applying to Graduate school. I had two jobs. My husband was in Graduate school. Life wasn’t supposed to make this turn. I was not ready. I was scared. I cried.
For three months I cried. Maybe not all of the days, but a lot of the days. I would sit in my room or stand in the shower or lie on my bed and cry. I would cry tears of anxiety, tears of fear, tears of “I can’t do this!” Days would become weeks, and weeks would turn into months, and then suddenly the tears changed from nervous, anxious and scared tears to a big batch of tears of thankfulness. For the 6.1 million women who struggle with infertility, I was one who was blessed with a child growing in my womb. A child who is living and breathing and shaking and moving. This child deserved more than only tears of fear, this child deserved tears of thankfulness, too.
The next 6.5 months were filled with more tears. If you have been pregnant or known a pregnant woman, you are well aware that tears come with pregnancy. Frustrated tears from not being able to tie your own shoes, scared tears of not knowing what car seat to buy, anxious tears from wondering if you’ve eaten the wrong kind of deli meat (oops! I wasn’t supposed to eat any kind of deli meat!), discouraged tears from looking at the finances, uncomfortable tears from when it is the 27th night in a row and you still can’t sleep and you are exhausted and longing for a full nights sleep, and you are yet again interrupted by having to pee at 2:35 a.m. Tears, tears, and more tears.
After 9 months of tears, one would expect my eyes would be dry and I would be ready for what was about to come next. But alas, I was neither of those things. On October 23rd, 9 days after this baby boy was due and I had cried more tears of “please, can you come out?!” and “please can you stay in a little bit longer because I am not ready for you?!” My husband and I went on a walk like we had been doing every night for the past two weeks and we feasted on chicken parmesan and gelato. We came home and the tears of panic started to come.
I was in labor. The small and silent tears of panic stayed throughout the night as I contracted for hours as I waited for the green light to go to the hospital. Feelings of ‘This is it!’ and ‘I am not ready!’ and ‘I can’t do this!’ flowed over me. We arrived at the hospital and my contractions stopped. Mary, my wonderful, gentle, and knowledgeable midwife, assured me my body was ready, and she promised that while my mind might not be ready now, as soon as this little boy arrives, I will be ready. I will change. She challenged me to accept what was happening and trust that it will be okay. I have never been more scared and more ready to jump into something in my entire life.
I took a deep breath, prayed for courage, threw up, and then tears of pain came on like a force. My body ached and pulled. Pain shot through my core. My insides were burning and stretching and cramping and the pain was great. The pain was almost too intense for tears. Shouting replaced the tears. Punching replaced the tears. Groaning and screaming and breathing and holding my breath replaced the tears. And then, after hours of working with my body to help this baby come into the world, he finally arrived and the tears arrived with him. But this time, the tears of pain and frustration, and the tears of anxiety and fear all disappeared. This time there were only tears of great, great JOY. Tears of joy and jubilation, bliss and blessing. I was cold and sweaty, half naked, hair in a messy top knot, feeling like the most beautiful woman in the world, wondering how I could have ever doubted the beauty of this moment.
The tears of worry that I shed 9 months prior over my bathroom sink led me right here. And I was grateful.
Since that moment, I have continued to shed many more tears. I have had nights filled with exhausted tears, mornings filled of ‘overwhelmed, there are too many dishes and the baby won’t stop crying and I don’t know what I’m doing’ tears, days filled with ‘I can’t believe I get to be a mom and watch these three beautiful children grow up’ tears. I am so thankful for the privilege and honor of shedding these tears of motherhood.
Andrea Maddalena Marshall is a mother of three littles, who loves reading the newest novel, playing “I Spy,” and photographing the every day chaos. Originally from Cape Cod, her happiest place is at the beach with a latte and chocolate croissant in hand! Follow Andrea on instagram @andreakmarshall or check out her photography portfolio at andreamarshall.smugmug.com
Cover photo by Andrea Maddalena Marshall