Being a mother ain't easy.
Yes, any woman could have a baby. But the actual "mothering" is not for everyone.
I realized that from the moment I first saw Michaela, squirming and squinting and screeching, just moments after she was yanked from my womb in an emergency C-section.
I had never felt so helpless in my life.
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Now, don't get me wrong. I knew a lot about babies. I am the oldest of 11 children, so I knew about burping and swaddling and changing diapers and feeding and the like.
But when I looked into Michaela's big brown eyes, I felt like a complete idiot. I cried when I checked out of the hospital and had to leave the helpful, patient and encouraging nurses behind. I bawled when my mom packed up to leave after spending a week or so with me.
I had read every book, watched a billion baby shows and quizzed every mother I knew, but I realized at about 2:30 one morning, when Michaela was screaming her head off and refusing to breastfeed, that I had to figure out for myself what worked best for my child.
That night, I realized that there was no book, no other parent, no pediatrician and no television series that could tell me how to raise my child. The was only one expert on Michaela -- and that was me.
The past three years have been filled with ups and downs, times when I was so happy I thought my heart would explode or so angry and so frustrated that I had to walk away for a "mommy time-out". I've laughed so hard my belly hurt and cried so hard that I ran out of tears.
There was the time when she broke out in a rash and was so miserable and feverish that I stayed up all night and rocked her. There were the times when she was constipated and her daddy stayed up all night to rub her belly. There were the times when I cried all the way to work, begging God to make a way for me to be at home with my baby.
But then there have been some great times.
Like when she took her first steps, walking across our living room floor to her daddy as if she'd been walking for weeks. We were so shocked we didn't say anything for a few minutes, then scrambled to get the video camera.
Or when she said "mommy" and "I love you" for the first time.
She's only 3 years old, but she has given my life new meaning. She's taught me more about love, about life, about forgiveness, about God, about patience and about faith than I could have learned in a lifetime without her. She has brought so much joy and happiness into my life that I can't believe I lived so long without her.
This Mother's Day, I have so much to be thankful for.