Becoming a mother is a profound physical, psychological, and emotional experience. Deciding to have a child become part of your life is a monumental decision, and your personal choice on the matter leads you on a distinctive journey all your own.
Because of the personal choice and diverse pathways involved, motherhood is not bound to a conventional definition. Instead, it spans a great variety of situations. Each is unique, special, and worthy of admiration and respect.
Reflect with me on the many possible ways an individual becomes a mother and consider the other unique situations surrounding the choice.
The opportunity to grow a life inside you; it’s powerful, to say the least. Those of us who are blessed enough to have given birth to biological children know the spiritual and emotional connection that permeates through the physiological process of pregnancy. It’s impressive on a scientific level too.
The perfect orchestration of hormones and biological phenomena that lead to conception is nothing short of a miracle. Then the changes the body undergoes to accommodate the new life, nourish it, and keep it safe are remarkable.
Every pregnancy experience is entirely unique. Even in the same individual, one pregnancy will be different than the next. Although this means the unexpected can happen, there are ways to prepare if you’re planning to get pregnant.
Consider these if you’re planning the path to motherhood through pregnancy:
- Secure reliable and trustworthy healthcare
- Stop smoking, drinking alcohol, or using drugs
- Start taking a vitamin containing folic acid
- Maintain a healthy, balanced diet
- Exercise regularly
- Get enough rest
It’s an exciting and remarkable life event. Embrace and enjoy if you have been bestowed the opportunity.
Although giving birth through a traditional pregnancy is most common, many other roads lead to motherhood.
Mothers are Many
Adoption is the legal process in which an individual or individuals become the non-biological parents of a child.
Adoption provides an unparalleled opportunity to enrich the lives of children and their adoptive families. Whether it be foster adoption, infant adoption, or adoption from around the world, each situation makes a mother.
If you are a birth mother who has decided to place your child for adoption, your choice has allowed another person to experience motherhood. Although there are complicated feelings surrounding that decision, the child receives a caring individual to provide for them.
A surrogacy situation allows an option for those who are not able to conceive or carry a baby to term. In this case, an individual agrees to carry and birth a baby on behalf of another person or couple.
In a traditional surrogacy situation, the mother is artificially inseminated with the father’s sperm. In this case, the surrogate is the biological mother of the child.
Through the use of in vitro fertilization, gestational surrogacy allows for a mother’s eggs to be harvested, fertilized by the father’s sperm, and then implanted in the uterus of the surrogate. This means the surrogate has no genetic ties to the baby; the parents are the egg and sperm donors.
Through the medical procedure and willingness of a surrogate, many receive the role of mother.
If your relationship leads you to join two families into one, you may find yourself the mother of bonus children. A blended family offers another realm of motherhood.
Providing love, nurture, and support to a child is the same when it comes from a stepparent. What a unique opportunity to show love to your partner by caring for their children.
Your bond with your partner can translate to an incredible bond with their children, often leading to an unlooked-for fulfillment.
Foster mothers provide an invaluable service to children in need. Foster mothers are needed in every community and help ensure that children’s basic needs are met.
They often accept children from troubled situations and provide them with a loving, nurturing environment. They selflessly open their homes and hearts, knowing that it may be only a temporary situation.
Anyone lucky enough to have a child through these “unconventional” means will tell you it is meaningful and it matters. It’s also abundantly clear that they are all considered mothers.
We have the right and the control to determine whether or not a child will be a part of our lives. Some choose birth control methods to ensure the timing of raising a child will be right. Some may decide a child is not a fit for their lifestyle.
The best decision for someone may be choosing not to become a mother, which is a valid conclusion in someone’s life. Feeling social or familial pressure or trying to live up to a pre-conceived standard is NOT a reason to have children.
You’ll likely encounter people who judge your decision. Often, those individuals can’t help but weigh in on your life’s choices.
Here are some tips for dealing with negative comments regarding your choice to be childless:
- Embrace that you’re happy and fulfilled in other ways
- Know they’ll learn to accept it
- Understand their disapproval doesn’t define your success or happiness
- Your reproductive choices are personal, and your own right
However, you may choose to impact a child’s life in another way. There are ways to become a positive influence and play an important role in a child’s life, even if it’s not your own.
Individuals that can impact a child’s life other than a parent:
Unfortunately, there can be obstacles for those who wish to bear their own biological children. For some, reproductive struggles are a reality.
Infertility and Loss
A whole year of trying to conceive with no success is referred to as infertility. Pregnancy loss which includes miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, and stillbirth, is considered recurrent after two or more unsuccessful pregnancies.
The CDC reports that approximately 1 in 5 heterosexual women of childbearing age experience infertility while 1 in 4 women experience trouble carrying a pregnancy to term.
The physical strain of either condition is taxing; the emotional trauma is devastating. Feelings of isolation and hopelessness abound in reproductive trauma situations. It’s not uncommon to feel anger, guilt, or failure. The emotions make it difficult to focus on self-healing and recovery.
Although it can be one of the most challenging life events a person experiences, it’s essential to your well-being to try and gain perspective.
Take these affirmations to heart:
- Pregnancy loss is not your fault.
- You deserve time to heal.
- Everyone deals with grief in their own unique way.
- You have the right to share or keep the incident private.
- It’s okay to seek counseling or support.
Be open with your partner and others you trust. Draw on the support and strength of those around you or appeal to your ob-gyn or midwife for suggestions on healthy coping methods. Also, don’t lose sight. There is overwhelming hope that conception and carrying a pregnancy to term are possible.
The last ten years have hosted remarkable advances in medicine for those dealing with infertility issues. The field has seen once experimental procedures become commonplace and highly successful. The chances of conceiving despite infertility have increased exponentially.
Improvements in prenatal care, reproductive health treatments, and a better understanding of how genetics and predispositions play a role in pregnancy are helping to mitigate recurrent pregnancy loss.
Finding solace after reproductive trauma takes time, but there’s comfort in knowing that the odds are continually improving that subsequent pregnancies will reach term.
Your Journey Matters
At Red Moon, we celebrate the power of the reproductive system and revere the ability of our bodies to create and sustain life. We also recognize that motherhood can take shape in so many valid ways.
Motherhood is a blessing regardless of the path you took to get there, and a fulfilled life without children has happiness, meaning, and purpose.
To all those who have embarked on the journey on your own terms, we respect and admire you. Connect with us and share your journey and choices regarding motherhood or pay tribute to your mother or mother figure in your life who’s worthy of recognition.
Cherie Marquez is the co-founder of Red Moon, where she brings her talents as an entrepreneur, storyteller, and holistic health enthusiast. Cherie is also the founder of Take One Daily Media, a marketing, advertising, and design agency dedicated to using media in creative and progressive ways. For twenty years, Cherie has used marketing and design strategy to impact social change. You can connect with her on Linkedin.