05/13/2014 10:41 am ET Updated Jul 13, 2014

I Wasn't Prepared for Motherhood

Vanae Keiser

I wasn't prepared to become a mother when my son was born just six short months ago. But I didn't know it at the time. After all, I had the crib and clothes and boxes and boxes of diapers. I had taken birthing classes and child development courses and had done my share of babysitting. And this wasn't a surprise pregnancy. I had consciously made the decision to have a baby. My husband and I planned the timing -- as much as it is possible to do that. We waited a while after we were married, because we wanted to make sure that we were "ready" to have kids.

But I wasn't ready to be a mom. I just wasn't prepared.

I wasn't prepared for my body to suddenly start producing enough milk to feed a small village. I wasn't prepared for the ache in my back that came from constantly bending to pick up my child and then carry him around until he fell asleep. I wasn't prepared for a child who wanted to be in my arms constantly -- or what that would do to my social life. I wasn't prepared for the yellow poop that spread all up the back of his clothes 3-4 times a day or the spit-up that would sporadically cascade down my neck and chest when I was least expecting it. I wasn't prepared for the months and months of running on empty because, between worrying about SIDS and listening to my son scream, I hadn't been blessed with sleep. And I definitely wasn't prepared to be thrown-up on the moment that I finally did drift off to sleep.

And I wasn't prepared for how much I would love him.

I wasn't prepared for how he would fit so perfectly in my arms -- no matter how much he grows. I wasn't prepared for the feeling that would rise up in my chest and completely overtake me as I watched him take his first breath. I wasn't prepared for his little fingers to wind their way through mine, and then for us to snuggle up holding hands. I wasn't prepared for how worried I would be about him, that I would lay my hand on his chest just to feel it rise and fall as he slept. I wasn't prepared for how much I would ache for him when he is sick or hurt or afraid. I wasn't prepared for the pride that would well up inside of me whenever he managed to achieve some new feat -- no matter how small. I wasn't prepared for his big, beautiful smile or his infectious little laugh.

And I definitely wasn't prepared for how immediately he would love me.

Me. He loves me -- for no other reason than the fact that I am his mama.

This child -- this perfect little human, who was recently just a couple of cells inside my body, this miracle of nature who just barely came into being -- has changed me. In just six months, he has taken a woman who had spent 28 years constructing herself, and completely transformed her. He has made me into something new.

He has made me a mother.

And suddenly I understand. I understand that fierceness that drives a mother to give everything she has for the good of her child. I understand that surge of adrenaline that enables mothers to defy logic and science, simply because, in that moment, their child needs them. I understand the desire to change the world, to move entire mountains and whole continents and even planets in the galaxy, in order to make the world my child lives in a better place to be.

And I appreciate my mother for loving me that much. All of the years and years of Mother's Days when I told her I appreciated her and all of her efforts, I wasn't telling the truth. I couldn't totally appreciate her, because I didn't really understand.

I couldn't know how her heart ached with my sorrows, how her mind was always occupied with my welfare, how much she deeply desired for me to have everything the world could offer -- and of course how much poop she had to clean up -- until I was in her place.

I am so grateful to my mom for being that person for me, and I'm grateful to my sweet child for being born and giving me the opportunity to learn to be that person too.

This post first appeared on Forward Walking, an online magazine dedicated to helping people move forward through the challenges, trials, and heartaches of life: