Like most of life, every mother’s experience is influenced by several variables. Their environment, their personality, support system etc… No one can ever prepare you enough for this journey because there are some experiences that come as you go.
I have had my share of experiences, but I will never forget that first difficult decision I had to face during my early months into this journey. As my maternity leave was about to end, I got a call from work, there was an important meeting for a project I oversee, and I was being asked if I could go for it. The meeting was far away in Europe in the winter. I had been to Europe twice before and I knew how harsh the weather could get for a girl from a summer all year-round country. I was very confused about what to do. I promised to get back to my boss after I had discussed with my husband. I went through the emotions of leaving my baby behind for the very first time. He was slightly under 4 months old. I was still determined to breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months despite my irregular supply of milk (that’s another story for another day). I thought about carrying my baby, but then how would I manage to attend the meetings with him? Would there be a provision for a nanny? Then there was the struggle of proofing to my boss that I was still that efficient employee that she had on the team for 3 years plus. If I said I couldn’t go, would this change her perception of me? Am sure you have heard how women are not considered for certain jobs or promotions because of the great responsibilities (perceived as a burden) that come with our call to motherhood. Thinking progressively, I didn’t want my career to be affected at its young stage too. But motherhood surely presents a series of trade-off decisions.
Hubby got back home later that evening. I restrained myself from greeting him with my news until he had settled, played with the baby and sat down to unwind. When I told him about the phone call, he asked; “Did you say yes, I think you should go.” Huh, my face froze. “How are we going to do this?” I asked. We explored options for going together for the trip, but soon found out we could not afford such an unplanned trip. The flight cost was over the roof. Hubby insisted that I should call back my boss and tell her I would go. He also said I should trust that he could take care of the baby while I was away and that we would figure out the rest. It was now not just about the work perception, but how my hubby would feel if I said I couldn’t go because of the baby. With all my fears, after a couple of days, I called my boss and confirmed I could go. The next few weeks in preparation for the trip we focused on getting my heart in sync with the decision. It was tough. I think I shed tears a number of times thinking about leaving my punchu behind for 8 days.
Soon the day of departure came, and hubby drove me to the airport. I checked in and got ready for my long trip through Istanbul. My emotions were between fear and guilt. Fear of the known and unknown, guilty for sacrificing my baby for my career and relationship. I even thought about quitting my job. I went on the plane, very silent not wanting to talk to anyone. I might have cried until I fell asleep. (It was an overnight journey). When I woke up, I had to face the engorged breasts, the worst experience ever! Only those that have experienced this can fully understand what I went through to manage my breast milk supply. And by the way, my supply could suddenly feed 10 babies in a day. Thankfully I had my manual bump but by the time I returned home after the 8 days, you could think I had been doing some arm muscle-building exercises.
A lot happened in the next couple of days. Hubby took off time to be home almost all the time. We kept in touch with video calls and I would see that my baby was indeed okay. I finally got rid of the guilt and decided to enjoy the trip anyway. I also changed my mind about quitting my job. (You can laugh). When I returned home, my baby had not forgotten me. We carried on from where we had left off. This is one of those experiences that made me appreciate God for blessing me with a husband and best friend who turns out to be my greatest support system. I could never have been able to go through this without his devoted support.
While away, I visited the Nobel Peace Prize Centre in Oslo which I may never have gotten a chance to visit. It was a humbling moment seeing all the names of the people who had been awarded lined up on tabs depicting how each of them has shone their light to touch the people around them.
I compare these exceptional people to the mothers around the world. Especially the ones I have come to know and experience. Very few may see the light you shine daily, your enduring love, your devotion, your sacrifices, your pain, the decisions that make you feel less of a mother, but you are all heroes. I celebrate you today. God has given you the honor to bring life (yes even the mamas by adoption, foster care) fourth and He has equipped you with a special grace for each of the children you mother. You are powerful.