The moment you were conceived, you made me a mom.
But as you started to grow, I grew too... and you made me more than a mom.
9 long months of pregnancy. I watched as my flat mid-section turned into a delightful baby bump... and then into a not quite as charming distended belly -- a belly that pinched nerves, aggravated joints and bullied surrounding organs. My once dainty feet swelled from bearing the weight of two humans, then merged upwards into barely identifiable ankles and vein-ridden calves. And the exhaustion! Oh, such crippling exhaustion. Yet I knew that every symptom was a sign of your growth. A sign that you, my dear child, were flourishing. And so I gladly endured.
You made me long-suffering.
Pregnancy culminated in a commencement -- the end of your stay in my body, but the beginning of your time in this world. Weeks of feckless and indecisive contractions had me wondering if I'd be pregnant forever. Your approaching due date taunted me, and then laughed in my face as it went on its merry way. But I knew every day you spent inside of me was another day I got to prepare you to take on the world. And so I waited.
You made me patient.
And then, like the first scant rain drops leading up to an epic thunderstorm, the real contractions started. The drizzle turned to downpour and then reached monsoon proportions... hours upon long hours of toiling, and pain of overwhelming magnitude. There were moments I thought my body would break, moments where my screams surely should have discouraged you from wanting to come out, moments I felt too weak to complete this seemingly endless and insurmountable undertaking. But then, with one final undiluted effort to meet you, you were there. And I knew I was strong.
You made me fierce.
Motherhood this side of the womb began, and with a lurch I was launched into a world of sacrifice. My body, racked by the burdens of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding, would never be the same. The forfeiting of rest as I knew it, replaced by the limitless exhaustion from the very limited sleep. And I raised my white flag as I surrendered the last of my free time. My days were no longer mine, they were yours, my sweet one. And I knew it was worth it.
You made me selfless.
As you grew, I matured too. Every fall, scrape and bump showed me the power of my hugs and kisses. As I held you through feverish nights or vomit-filled days, I felt you draw comfort and relief from my being. And with every nerve-wracking hurdle that we crossed together, your trust in me assured me that I could do this mothering thing. And I knew I was doing it right.
You made me confident.
And watching you grow opened my heart in ways I had never experienced. The first time you reached your chubby arms out to me, my heart filled with warmth at your wordless request for my embrace. When your wavering toddles became sure-footed steps and then confident bounds, I watched with pride as you learned to explore the world from a new altitude. And every smile, every giggle, every full-throated belly laugh pierced my spirit, opening up new portals for happiness to flood my soul. And I delighted in you.
You made me joyful.
When I conceived you, you made me a mom... but your profound impact on my life didn't stop there. You taught me to be forbearing and long-suffering -- that I could be patient and endure. When I thought my body would break, you made me find my inner warrior -- proving to me that I was strong. With every sacrifice I made, you helped me learn to die to myself -- teaching me to be selfless. With every challenge we overcame, you made me confident that I was well-suited to be your mother. And as you carved out your existence in my life, you made me joyful.
You made me more than a mom.
A version of this piece first appeared on Best of Baby. For sass, sarcasm, and the occasional tug at your heart-strings, you can join the Best of Baby community on Facebook and follow along on Twitter.