Mother's Day

Congratulations to all you mothers out there on Mother's Day and remember no matter how challenging your kids are right now, we are blessed because we are mothers. I realize that some women don't want to be mothers, but some really want children and can't have them or they had children who have died; trust me, they are grieving deeply this Mother's Day. So, please be kind to everyone because you don't always know who has suffered or is suffering.

Here's an article I wrote that was published inThe Globe and Mail for Mother's Day.

I BECAME A MOTHER ON MOTHER’S DAY

Every day I felt like a loser, but especially on Mother’s Day. For 13 years my husband and I had been trying unsuccessfully to have a baby, with and without fertility treatments.

Anyone who has gone through these massive experiments on the female gonads can attest to the fact that it’s not fun.

Mother’s Day was the worst day of the year for me because it was such a reminder of all that we didn’t have and wanted so badly.

For years, my extended family celebrated the Mother's Day by cooking a big meal for the mothers in our family. This meant that all the men and I spent the day in the kitchen.

Finally someone realized how unkind this was to me, considering how hard it was for us to conceive, so we changed Mother's Day to Women’s Day, and I got out of the kitchen.

Doctors-cum-mad scientists in lab coats with minimal bedside manners poked and pried me open with false promises of things to come. “Just empty your bank account and feel the humiliation, and the emotional and physical pain,” sums up the arduous process.

But this story has a happy ending. It began with our decision finally to terminate the voodoo magic and adopt a baby from China.

The social worker we hired to commence the adoption process interrogated us, then requested and received positive references about our parenting abilities from our physician, our family counselor, our employers, two family members and several good friends.

She sent her report to the government of Canada and the government of China, and after an agonizing wait of six months we were deemed fit to be parents (phew!).

We received a wondrous package with a picture of our baby girl and a description of her excellent health and shy temperament. In the picture, which I had enlarged and hung up in my office, she was being held up by a pair of obviously hardworking female hands. Her hair had been shaved and she was packed in an oversized snowsuit. She was crying. I yearned to rush to her and comfort her in my arms.

After an agonizing two-month wait, we travelled to China with our guide, and 16 other expectant parents (who also failed in the mad scientists’ labs).

From the time we left our front door to when we arrived in Beijing, we had travelled for more than 24 hours. The next day we boarded a plane for the south of China.

As we waited on the tarmac to take off, a light rain became a torrential rainstorm. I closed my eyes and said a little prayer. Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God,” covered me like a warm blanket. I knew we would be okay.

We arrived in Nanchang, boarded a bus and drove a few hours to our destination while our agent instructed us, in a heavy accent over a scratchy speaker in a noisy bus, on exactly how we should parent our adopted child. At least, that’s what I think she talked about.

When we arrived in our hotel, we were instructed to go to our rooms, unpack, and come down to the lobby to receive our babies, who had arrived by bus from the orphanage.

I still brag that I had a natural birth with absolutely no drugs or pain, and I didn’t even scream or complain.

In the hotel room, my husband Rene and I freshened up and I put on a bright yellow dress. I asked him if I looked matronly enough for our new daughter. He smiled and said, “Yes, yes you do, and you’ll be the best mother ever.”

We ran hand in hand to the elevator and I pushed the button 10 times. We stepped in and I said, “Honey, we have one minute left of our freedom. What should we do?”

He kissed my forehead and swallowed hard. This was the day we had been longing for.

The elevator door opened to mayhem. We were the last parents to arrive in the lobby. Sixteen babies, 32 parents and numerous nannies and other orphanage staff were talking, screaming, laughing and crying.

My knees were wobbly as our agent gently led me by the elbow, with Rene trailing behind, to our baby girl, who was being held by her nanny. She was nine months old, had big dark eyes, a tiny face with prickly short black hair, and she was silent.

After her nanny handed her to me, my new daughter just stared at me, hardly blinking.

I deeply inhaled her vanilla smell. I whispered promises of love and devotion while I struggled to compose myself; I didn’t want to alarm her with my overwhelming emotions.

It was such a pivotal moment when her life and ours joined forever. Believe it or not, all of this miraculously happened on Mother’s Day.

(We adopted our second gorgeous baby girl from China in January of 2004.)