Sitting in my new-to-me glider, holding that 9 lb 3 ounce, swaddled to perfection little boy, brought visions of what these beginning moments of motherhood would be like to a quick reality. It did not matter how much he cried, whispering to him that everything was going to be ok, and holding him tight, made it feel like all was right in our world. He had all of the perfect baby items that I had done all the research on. I had read all of the books on how to be the best mom I could be to him. I simply was ready to take on all this new mom world had to offer! Then, came the phone call.
Whether you are a soon to be, new, or a veteran in the motherhood world, I would dare to say that each of you reading this have or had your own ideas of a picture-perfect world when it came to the type of mother you would be. Only to quickly find out after that little bundle of joy enters the world that what you thought would be, and what is are two totally different things.
I remember vividly the day that my perfect world of being a new mom went from all the things I was envisioning my little to be, to in a moment being filled with fear and worry of what all could he be. I had my first child at the age of twenty-two. I already did not have a clue about how to be a mother, but then throw in a phone call on a Saturday from an unknown Genetics Specialist to really up my anxiety level, fears, and worries of inadequacy.
My son was five days old when I received that phone call. I was standing in our first home, by the window, listening to what the man on the other end was sharing. The main things I heard in that conversation were a diagnosis of PKU, needing to be at UF & Shands Pediatric Unit first thing Monday, and that this could cause mental disabilities if untreated. In one split moment, my picture-perfect world was shattered, and I quickly realized motherhood was not going to be filled with rainbows and butterflies. Instead, it would be filled with perseverance, doing things you never realized you would be able to do, and the realization that you cannot control all that is to come.
PKU, known as Phenylketonuria, is a rare metabolic disease. A newborn with this diagnosis body is unable to break down an amino acid known as Phe. If untreated, the body’s inability to properly break down this amino acid causes build up in the body, thus leading to severe brain damage. In the United States, babies are given a heel prick, known as Newborn Screening, twenty-four hours after their first feeding to test for over 40 metabolic disorders. PKU can be detected during this newborn screening. PKU can cause severe brain damage but treatment beginning within two weeks or less after birth can decrease the effects.
I spent the first few years of his diagnosis just trying to make it day by day. I cried every time there was a transition in his life because with that transition came me having to learn something new all over again. I spent a lot of time in silence over my worries and fears and trapped in my “I can do it all” type of mindset. So I put my head down and survived. I quickly realized that surviving motherhood was not what we are meant to do. Instead, we are meant to live through it, enjoying all the moments. Even if those moments bring upon tears, fears, laughter, tears again, and all the in-between; we are meant to live ALL the pieces.
Motherhood is messy. Some days we feel like we have it all together, other days we barely have our head above the water, quickly realizing it is really about being in the moments, no matter how messy it may get. If you find yourself in a moment of realizing what you have pictured this walk to be not matching up to what is, I hope you know right you are not alone. In fact, we are all in this mess together.
Embrace your mess. Embrace your imperfect story. Embrace it. All of it.