I have been an obstetrician for 25+ years and helped to welcome many new infants into this world. I have also been pregnant 3 times and experienced the joys and pains of pregnancy and childbirth. Two adoptions have given me a different perspective on motherhood. Hosting 4 exchange students has made me a temporary mom. And finally, the connections I have with 3 children born via egg donation add a deeper dimension to biologic vs. day-to-day mothering.
These experiences, along with the incredible interactions that I have working with mothers in Haiti as a part of medical mission work, have led me to reflect on both the similarities and differences in how mothering happens. Why do we want to put all our energies into caring for such a helpless infant when we are often still physically hurting ourselves from the process of childbirth? Why would we come to love a child that is not biologically related to us and may have had experiences in their life that we are unable to ever know about? Why would we want to give part of ourselves so that someone else is able to experience motherhood?
Being an obstetrician for so many years, I have been privy to many of the cultural changes that have taken place around childbirth and parenting. Babies are still born the same way (the only thing that hasn’t changed!), but how they are welcomed into the world and by who certainly has changed.
This past year has been unique: I have visited our exchange students in their home countries and met their parents, I will be traveling to both Haiti and Africa for medical mission work and I was able to spend a week last summer with my adopted daughter and biologic daughter working in Bolivia with orphans. I plan to use this blog to reflect on cultural traditions around motherhood, how prenancy and childbirth have changed in the US and how it compares to other countries, other mother’s experience of parenting a non-traditional family and how my own experiences with parenting a diverse family has changed who I am.