Quinlan made me a mother.
She was a surprise from Day One. I'd only been married for twelve short weeks and I spent a Sunday afternoon at a baby shower for my friend Colleen. Now maybe there was something in the punch, but it seemed every one there was pregnant or toting a little tot around. At one point, someone joked that I was the only one left without a baby and when would I be getting started? I waved the comment away and laughed but in my mind I knew something was off.
I'd felt funny for a couple of days and anyone who is freshly pregnant knows what "funny" means. Funny that I was telling people we wanted to wait a while before having kids, funny that as I played Baby Bingo I was thinking about that generic pregnancy test in my bathroom cabinet. Funny, funny, funny.
I told Justin before I left for the shower that I thought I might be pregnant and being the level-headed man that he is, he barely flinched. I promised I'd take the pregnancy test when I got home from the shower and before my brother and his girlfriend arrived for dinner that night. So when I arrived home in my green tank top on a hot day in August, I went straight to the bathroom cabinet and fumbled with the wrapper and promised myself it would be negative.
It wasn't. Not even close. Those pink lines were so dark they may as well have been a flashing neon sign.
I stood there for a moment or two before my hands started shaking. I stared at that blessed peed-on pink stick and the fact that my brother would be arriving any second and where the heck is Justin at a time like this? (Upstairs.) I walked to the bottom of the steps and called for him and apparently the tone of my voice led him to believe I'd cut off a finger so when he realized I had all my extremities, he casually asked what was going on. I didn't even want to say it out loud, it felt crazy, it felt like pretend. I finally forced the words, "I'm pregnant," out of my lips and a huge, devilish grin graced my husband's face.
He looked positively delighted with himself. I burst into tears.
I told him I didn't want a baby right now and we'd only been married a couple of weeks and I wasn't happy about it. I woke up the next morning to two name-brand pregnancy tests, a card reminding me that children are a gift from the Lord, and a bottle of prenatal vitamins on the bathroom sink. Both tests were positive. Undeniably positive.
There were plenty of days where even pregnancy felt like a trick, like there really wasn't a baby kicking around in there and it was all in my head.
But after forty-one weeks and one day, my Quinlan arrived. She was really real. A real baby, a real person, and really mine.
It still feels like I'm playing house most days. Like perhaps she is someone else's baby and I'm just filling in until the real Mommy comes back from vacation. But every morning when I wake up and I hear her and smell her and kiss the very soft skin on the back of her neck, I'm so grateful for that hot August day when I became a mother.
I'm grateful for her at three a.m. when we're awake for another nursing session. I'm grateful for her on weekend mornings when I can bring her into the big bed and we all snuggle together. I'm grateful for my husband who made her with me and who tackles dirty diapers with gusto. I'm grateful for my own mother who is teaching me how to be a mother, because really, there's no one better at it than her.
Happy Mother's Day.