I hear that while you’re pregnant, you’re very emotional. Your hormones are out of control and you can cry at the drop of a hat, or laugh hysterically at something silly. Or that you lose control of your bladder. A simple cough and sputter sends you running for the bathroom and an adult diaper.
I’ve heard, but not experienced, that you have several physical and emotional symptoms while pregnant – and that even after you have delivered, you tend to feel this way for some time. I guess until everything levels out again? But that you have this incredible bond with life growing inside of you. That you are overcome with love for the life inside.
I guess I’ll never know. I never carried my son. I never sang to a growing belly, never stroked my growing womb, never read “what to expect” while eating pickles in bed and getting my swollen ankles rubbed by my doting husband, and never peed 8 times a night. I never felt him kick. I never placed my hand or my husbands on my belly to feel the sensation of him inside of me.
I never rushed to the hospital, finding my water had broken. I never took a sharp needle to alleviate my growing labor pains. I never pushed, or placed my feet in stirrups, or counted to ten while breathing deeply. I never felt that searing pain or that warm gush of afterbirth come flowing out of my body afterward. I never heard the doctor say “it’s a BOY!” or got to stare into the eyes of my newborn son while he was placed on my chest. I didn’t cry at his birth. I wasn’t there for it.
My son was born in a remote village in
He probably came into this world in much the same way most babies do. Crying and cold. I’m not sure if he was born in a hospital or if he met the world in a small hut. I’m not sure if his father was there. I’m not sure if his mother lived through it. I don’t know if she had a difficult labor or a quick and easy one. I’m not sure.
I don’t know if they placed him on her chest so she could stare into his big eyes or if they shouted “it’s a BOY!” to her, so she could be proud of bearing a son. Maybe she was sick, maybe she was young, maybe she was alone and scared or starving?
I’m not sure she lived. I’m not sure she breastfed him. If she died, he must have been cared for by family?
I do know that one day, in January…just six short months ago – my son was left by a river in
Was it cold that day? It was January. Was it hot? Was he dressed or naked? Was he there for long? Days? Night too? How long did he lay there? How long did he go without eating or hygiene? How long until that officer happened upon him? Was he crying and so he drew a crowd or was it chance that brought the policeman to find him lying by that river?
I will never know. And sadly, neither will he.
He was found by a police officer. He was taken to the orphanage and given a name, assigned an approximate birthday. He was cared for and then taken to Addis, where he was left in the care of the primary orphanage. The same one we found him in.
And that’s all we understand of his beginnings.
I know from the minute I laid my eyes on him, from the minute I touched his hand and took him in my arms, from the second I spoke his name to him and stared into his face – I loved him deep down in my soul. I felt like I had finally come home and that we had finally found each other. I felt my heart lurch in a thousand directions.
There was no doctor to joyfully call out “it’s a Boy!” but my heart leapt just the same. No stirrups or pushing, but tears of happiness and overwhelming love. Sobs between kisses and hugs and words of affirmation. “I found you…we’re a family…finally, we’re a family…I love you, my little boy…I love you”
No hospital. No doctors. No ice chips. No incision.
Only a childless mother and motherless child. Together at last.
After years of heartache, my pain found its salve. A gentle, easy, warm salve that covered so much hurt and longing.
I don’t know how much pain his mother had when she gave birth to him. I’ll never know. And I’ll never know the name she gave him when she saw him. How much he weighed or how long he was at birth. What his footprint looked like, if he was a calm baby or cried often. I’ll just never know. I only know how much I love him, the name we’ve given him, and how much joy he brings to us every day since the day we met. He lights up our world and makes it a better place. He weighs 16 pounds and he’s 26 inches long now. I know this, because I’m his mother.
I don’t know much about his past, but what I do know is that Quint and I labored for each other – him alone and abandoned in his greatest hour of vulnerability and need – and I, for years trying to make my tired heart find a way to get to him. We labored for each other when it mattered most.
I can’t say that he looks like me or that he has my smile. He can’t say that “diabetes runs in my family” when the doctor asks.
But it doesn’t change the fact that we needed each other so very much – and half a world apart, still found each other.
Look what I found on my way to not being pregnant...the greatest love of all. My beautiful baby boy – my little labor of love.
(Quint on the Ethiopian hand made blanket we purchased for him at his Orphanage*)