Six Years of Motherhood

Six years ago today my life changed. My daughter Hannah was born, and I became someone’s mother.

It was a rather abrupt entry into motherhood, happening six weeks before it was expected to. Less than twelve hours after being jolted awake by my water breaking, and convincing myself I had just wet the bed, I had a baby.

Our girl at 18 days old

It was very surreal at first. Hannah was in the NICU, and while I was able to visit her I couldn’t sit up for long periods of time following severe blood loss on my part. So I spent most of my time lying in my own hospital bed, resting, vaguely aware that I had a baby but not really living the reality. On my first night out of the hospital, when Hannah was four days old, Jon took me out to dinner. Neither of us were up to cooking, and we sat there in that White Spot and looked at the wristbands we were given to identify us as Hannah’s parents in the NICU.

This is slippery stuff!

We were marked. We were tired and overwhelmed and confused. But we didn’t yet feel like parents. And so I ate my chicken fingers and Caesar salad and pondered the largely academic reality of my daughter.

Crazy hair

When Hannah was six days old, we brought her home. It was another sudden flurry of activity, much like her birth. They didn’t give us much advance warning that she was being released. I suspect they didn’t want to get our hopes up and then have to disappoint us. And on that day, again, in a haze of confusion my life changed.

Out on a walk with our 'handbags'

That was 2185 days ago, now, and my life has continued changing every day since. Living with children is like that. They inhabit a world of change, where things simply cannot stay the same for very long at all. There is always a new peak to be climbed, a new depth to be plumbed, or a new nerve to be worn raw. There is always more and more and more of everything. So much more, that you think you can’t contain it, but you do. Until you don’t, and it spills everywhere, and other parents look at it knowingly.

Hannah finds Dad's laundry

In so many ways I am not the same person that I was on February 19, 2005. I am stronger and weaker. I am braver and more timid. I am gentler and more fierce. Motherhood has sharpened me in some ways, and softened me in others. It has denied me sleep and basic comforts. But it has also given me the world. And it is a world that is much bigger and richer and full of potential choking hazards than I could ever have imagined.

Hannah loves the wind

I didn’t know what I was getting into, as I waddled into the maternity ward the day that Hannah was born. And really, there was no way I could have. It wasn’t mine to know, then. It is only mine to discover and learn anew, every single day. Together with my husband and our children, I discover it.

Hannah playing in the sunshine

Today, I mark another year gone. I do so in gratitude, to have shared this journey with my daughter. I do so in joy, to see the person that Hannah is becoming. I also do so in sadness, because it is another year I will never see again. Change, as I said, is constant with children. There is no getting back the countless moments from Hannah’s first six years, and no predicting what her seventh year will look like.

All that I know for sure is that today I am here, and my daughter is six, and I will celebrate the person that she is, and the person I am because of her. Happy birthday to my daughter, and happy birthday to the family that wouldn’t exist without her.

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  1. awh 🙂 happy birthday to Hannah!

    Love that pic of her with knee socks and boxers…you can tell that girl has gobs of personality 🙂

    great post and you have such a nice way with words.
    Jamie Willow’s last post … Zoo CrewMy Profile

  2. Happy birthday to Hannah! Motherhood really is full of paradoxes, isn’t it? Lovely post.
    Amanda’s last post … Wordful Wednesday- Surgery DayMy Profile

  3. Happy Birthday Hannah! And Happy Birth Day to you, Amber. May this day be wonderful and full with laughter. 🙂

  4. Happy, happy birthday, Hannah! And xox to all your family today …

  5. Happy Birthday Hannah!! I hope your day is as special as you! I know it will be because you have a great Mom!
    Wendy Irene’s last post … What Photography Means to MeMy Profile

  6. Happy Birthday Hannah!!

  7. Happy Birthday to you mama and to Hannah!

    “I am stronger and weaker. I am braver and more timid. I am gentler and more fierce.”

    I love this. It’s so the truth.

  8. A beautiful tribute. Happy “Birth” Day to you, too!
    Ironic Mom’s last post … My Love-Hate Relationship with MoviesMy Profile

  9. Jennifer Walker says:

    Wonderfully written post Amber. Happy birthday day to your daughter!

  10. Happy birthday Hannah!
    Heather’s last post … Easy Peasy TrifleMy Profile

  11. New reader – I love your blog!

    Happy Mom-a-versary!!
    It kind of amazing when you stop to think about it, isn’t it 🙂

  12. Awww, I’m teary eyed! Happy birthday family 🙂
    Nadia @ Red, White and GREEN Mom’s last post … Because I am a motherMy Profile

  13. Happy Birthday Hannah. 🙂
    Rose’s last post … Pizza PicnicMy Profile

  14. Happy Birthday to Hannah and to you too, mama! The anniversary of the day that made you a mommy….
    This post is beyond beautiful.
    Thank you for sharing it.
    teresa’s last post … Wordless Wednesday- Breastfeeding AlternativesMy Profile

  15. And did the party go off without any horoscope-predicted accidents or injuries?
    allison’s last post … We call it Fifteen Seven-Year-Olds Throw Down on a Poor Defenseless CanvasMy Profile

  16. “it is a world that is much bigger and richer and full of potential choking hazards than I could ever have imagined”

    That is the perfect parenting sentence.
    Lady M’s last post … It Can Never Be Said That This Child is Not DeterminedMy Profile

  17. Beautifully written – happy birthday to your girl! She is such a beautiful, vibrant person with an inspiring mama.
    Melissa @ The New Mommy Files’s last post … This Moment- Happiness IsMy Profile

  18. Happy birthday! Motherhood has been the most transforming experience in my life too.
    Francesca’s last post … Les BallerinesMy Profile

  19. Happy birthday, Hannah!!

    My son, also my first born, turned 8 on the 16th. I can’t believe I’ve been a mother for 8 years already, especially when I think about how very, very different my life was just 10 years ago. It’s definitely been the hardest thing I’ve ever done and the most frustrating because everything before that just came too easily. Having smarts does not make parenting easier, if anything I’m just more aware of what I don’t know!
    Fran’s last post … IKEA Recalls Cribs Due to Support CollapseMy Profile

  20. Woo hoo! You made it six years! She is such a beautiful girl. I love that you’re celebrating the person YOU’VE become as well. I think birthdays are a milestone of their own for parents not just kids!

  21. Happy birthdays to both you and Hannah.
    Since I only have the one I cannot say what the birth day of a second is like, but I’m sure the very first birth day, when you become a mother for the first time, is always a special remembrance.

    … and oh by! how life has changed since then 🙂
    pomomama’s last post … self portrait thursday- myth bustingMy Profile

  22. Lovely post! Happy birthday to you BOTH!
    Sarah’s last post … Its a date!My Profile

  23. Happy Birthday, Hannah! And Happy Birthing Day, Amber! In gratitude for all you have shared with us over the years <3
    Zoie’s last post … Sleepy Mama Milk SqueeziesMy Profile

  24. Oh Amber, this is just a gorgeous post! You capture so much that is universally wonderful and terrifying about parenthood in this post, but you do so in a way that is also wholly and uniquely *your own*.

    Happy (belated) birthday to Hannah, and happy “birth” day to you too!
    Kristen’s last post … Rattled by the RushMy Profile

  25. Another great post Amber. Becoming a mother is truly life altering and this is a great tribute to that.
    Mama in the City’s last post … Love And Marriage- When Infertility Speaks LoudlyMy Profile

  26. Hannah is just beautiful as is this post. Thanks for sharing.
    Reedu’s last post … Sleep Training MyloMy Profile

  27. Happy birthday Hannah! Doesn’t that newborn photo of her make you want another baby even more?!?! That’s what it did to me! I love that picture of her on the ferry – captures the essence of toddlerhood:)
    eva’s last post … Four Months!My Profile

  28. Nice post… the pictures made me awwwww a lot.
    *pol’s last post … This weeks decluttering itemsMy Profile

  29. The picture of Hannah in the boxer shorts made me laugh.

    A very sweet tribute to motherhood and to your daughter who introduced you to it.
    Marilyn @ A Lot of Loves’s last post … The Quickest Way To Make Me CryMy Profile

  30. Amber, today as I celebrate my youngest’s second birthday, i stand in soiidarity with you. This post was breathtaking, as is your little girl. Happy belated birthday Hannah!
    Christine’s last post … TwoMy Profile

  31. Happy belated birthday to Hannah. And a woohoo to you.
    Capital Mom’s last post … BoringMy Profile

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