Thirty-five years ago right now, I was in the midst of a 21-hour labor. I had a terrible cold, which prevented my breathing through my nose. As the tissues piled up beside me on the bed, the pain increased. The hospital nurses had me lying flat for hours, despite my urge to be upright. Finally, when the shift change happened at 3:00, I was encouraged to sit up, as "it would speed things along." How frustrating. It wasn't until they broke my water at 6:00 p.m., however, that things really started progressing.
What makes my labor stand out, however, isn't the method or the length or anything like that. It was the fact that I wouldn't be walking out of the hospital with a newborn in my arms. Nope. Someone else would be her mommy. Someone else would feed her and change her and wipe her runny nose. Someone else would see the first smile, photograph the first steps, hear the first, "I love you, Mommy." These were excruciatingly painful thoughts for me. For years, I imagined where my daughter was, what she was doing. For years, I longed to hold her in my arms again.
Yet, this was my choice. Uninfluenced by anyone else, I chose to give her life and then to give her away.
Even though I am one, or perhaps because I have an intimate understanding of them, birth mothers are heroes in my eyes. Please don't think I'm trying to toot my own horn here. Just because I'm part of this special club doesn't mean I shouldn't admire the other moms out there who have been, or will be going through this. It's like AA for those of you who are alcoholics. Don't you celebrate others' milestones of sobriety?
Well, today, I celebrate the birth mothers out there who selflessly put their babies' well being above their own desires. Wouldn't it be easier to simply abort these "unwanted" children? Of course. Wouldn't it be easier, in some ways, to change your mind and take that baby home with you? Perhaps. But love isn't about what easiest, is it? A mother's love transcends convenience and desire. A mother's love is sacrificial.
So today, as I honor the sisterhood of birth mothers, I think about the child I gave up for adoption, and I smile. Some choices are cause for celebration.