I have been asked countless times how my transition into being a mama has been. "How are you doing with the big transition?" "Are you doing okay?" "Are you struggling at all?" "Are you worried about everything, its totally okay if you are, just checking in on you!" Such beautiful friends and loving questions and simply just, ah. I love my people.
Its a question I didn't actually expect; a question that has even caught me off guard. The amount of times I have been asked has surprised me. I think it reveals a few things: one, that people care about our big transitions in life and people care about us and people care. Two, that transitioning from being a non-parent into being a parent can be overwhelming for a lot of people.
I am one of those weird young 20-somethings that wanted to be a mom now, rather than later. As soon as Loren and I felt the conviction that children were not a hassle, not a burden, not a pain in your butt...our desire to grow our family intensified and magnified ten fold. It was like a switch was flipped and God laid it heavy on our hearts to be Mama and Daddy. A little before a year into our marriage we began the ordeal of "trying to conceive" and with every passing month, we wondered when we would hold our first baby in our arms. We decided that if we ever wanted to travel or go on trips, then we just would - kids don't have to be a "burden." You can make memories as a family, even if you aren't rolling in the dough. We believe(d) you can enjoy both life and children. At the same time. I know, what.
As the months turned into [a couple] years of us waiting to hold our first little one, my heart ached and longed to be Mama. A desire I believe God Himself placed and intensified within me. I went from fearing being a mama, fearing messing up their little hearts so bad and not even knowing it...to desperately desiring it, eager to love more than I had ever experienced. He taught me, and continues to, the act of surrender, of hands open and heart bent towards Him. That being childless and not knowing whether or not if I could carry a baby in my womb is a journey of surrender, over and over again...but so is being a mama. So is having our arms and hearts fuller than full. Surrender, hands open and heart bent towards Him is the posture to reside in.
So my transition into being a mama? It has been less of a transition and more of becoming more of Natalie. It has been more like placing on the skin that I felt I was made for. That is exactly how I felt when I said "I do, forever and for always and no matter what" in front of 200+ people to Loren Brenner and it is exactly how I feel again: this is for me. Sure, I am one month in. Sure, I have one little one to care for (well, two! it's just a little different..). Sure, I don't know what I am doing because who ever does, but I also am not freaking out worried about things [maybe I should be]. Sure, I am very new at this and have a lot of years ahead of me for face-down-on-the-ground crying, asking God for strength. But it seems I did so much of that for months into years, begging and crying out for full arms...that now I feel [more] fully myself than ever.
My transition into being a mama has been my favorite transition. It has felt smooth and natural and right. It has felt God-ordained.
I know that the transition into being a mama is not easy for everyone. Sometimes it is born out of tragedy or unexpectedly or without being planned/wanted/desired. That is okay. That is a journey to be walked, just as we each have one, and I get that. You are beautiful, you are whole, you are loved. It is okay. It is okay if it is not natural, if it does not feel right, if the skin of Mama feels uncomfortable. That is okay.
I have never so quickly and so fiercely loved another human being. Holy Heavens, I can't stop thinking about that Truth. Sage is my boy. Sage is my son. And I can't imagine life without him. I love him deeply. I knew I would love any children we have the honor of calling "ours," but to the extent that my heart has wrapped around him I was not prepared for. My hunch was that I would love our babies intensely, with more power than a human could ever muster on her own; but the love I carry for Sage far outweighs any expectations I had. It is impossible to put to words.
But I can tell you this with more confidence than you can possibly read through a screen: family is so much more than blood and DNA. Love makes a family. Adoption is born out of immense loss and tragedy, but boy is it beautiful. I love him as my own, because he IS my own. He is my son, my boy.
The other day I was chatting with a fellow adoptive mama - she was sharing that though the sting of infertility is still present, holding her son (her heart-grown miracle boy) lessened and softened the pain and the loss and grief that infertility brings; she said she would go through the years of diagnosis, tests, blood draws and needle pricks again because it led her to her son. Her son. And for the first time, I carefully and very cautiously said the words: "you know what? I would walk through the 2.5 long years of infertility and 2015 again [the year of tears & grief], through conceiving our little Blake on taxing fertility treatments only to lose him again...if it brought us Sage. I don't think thats why we miscarried - that it 'forced' us to adopt. But I would walk through that hell all over again because it pushed us to pursue adoption again and it deepened the caverns of our desires for children and it did ultimately lead us to Sage." I didn't think I would ever say or believe those words, and if I did, I thought it might be 5 years down the road. I am certainly not saying I am grateful for our loss and I hope for another one...but I am saying that I have Sage in my arms and if the specific sequence of events did not occur the way they did, we very well may not have our son. If we had to walk through that again in order to have Sage in our home, then yes, yes I would do it all over again.
It is amazing what God can do through the yuck and mess of this life. So much beauty born from such dark ashes. And He was with us through every step - even at the bottom of the dirty, musty, gloomy pit. He was there.
I cannot explain the well of gratitude I have for our village. My goodness, our people are beautiful and generous and loving and sacrificial and courageous and so...utterly beautiful. So many of you have come together to help us bring Sage home, bring our son home. I would not be sitting here wearing him without you. Thank you one million and one, and then to infinity and back. Thank you for helping us transition from being Loren and Natalie to Loren, Natalie, and Sage.
We love you. And we mean that.