At 31, following several years of medical treatments and a roller coaster of adjusting hormone therapy, I was anxious to proceed with a hysterectomy. Those troubled ovaries weren’t worth keeping. They caused so much pain and worked so poorly that my doctor said I’d never get pregnant without a lot of fertility assistance. I wasn’t interested in going that route, had never envisioned having kids anyway, and I was in a dead-end marriage. A hysterectomy seemed like a great idea, so I planned my surgery and the six weeks off to coincide with the best time of year in Spokane to have some free time.
Two weeks before that vacation was to start, I underwent a normal test to rule out pregnancy. After running it three times in disbelief, my doctor’s assistant uttered the words that would change my world: you’re pregnant.
I was not elated. I did not cry tears of joy. This was not the plan.
A high-risk pregnancy, a month of bed rest and countless exams on a little life that wouldn’t cooperate inside the womb culminated in the emergency delivery of a 4-pound, 7-ounce little bug named Emily. I was a mom, despite the odds, and in spite of the decisions I thought I’d made.
Before she turned a year old, my divorce was final, and thus began our journey of a unique relationship that is the only-child-single-mom bond: one that is fierce, unshakeable, and so strong that we—Emily and I—are the only people who could harm or hamper it.
On Mother’s Day, when most of us are reflecting on our own moms, this year I was pondering me instead. The one who never thought she should or could have kids. A woman who believes in being a person first and a parent second, because it’s the only way I figure I can do right by myself and my kid.
My first Mother’s Day, celebrated while little bug was still growing inside, I bought a 7-piece oak dining room set—something sturdy that would be around a long time, something we’d use day in and day out for years to come. Ten years later, we celebrated Mother’s Day with a picnic near the mountain, a simple new tradition we’ve set with my own mom. I don’t need some expensive piece of furniture to make me feel like a good mom. All I really need is to put each day to rest with another tradition: lying on Emily’s bed, listening to her recount her blessings and her frustrations, make plans for the day ahead, and say her prayers.
Maybe I wasn’t “supposed” to be a mom. But if I weren’t, who would love me “to the moon and back, and around the whole galaxy a million times” every night?