By Georgia Ragonetti-Zebell, MD
I wake up around 6:30 to get ready for work. There are mommas in the hospital ready to go home on this Mother’s Day. Most of the family is still asleep as I get ready to leave, but my six year old has never slept past 6:30am in his life.
“Mom, which airplane will win? Blue or green?” he asks me as I make my oatmeal.
“Um…green!” I answer. He throws them across the kitchen, and I lose.
“Happy Mother’s Day,” my husband kisses me and I leave for the hospital.
I call my mother on my way, hoping she is awake. She is. We chat about her plans for the day and her worries about her own aging mother. Their roles are just beginning to reverse, as she becomes the caregiver in their relationship. I know it won’t be much longer, and the same thing will happen to us.
I pass the Outreach Center on my drive, and I think about one of the mommas I have cared for. I saw her walking to the center the day after she left the hospital with her newborn in a sling, holding her two year old’s hand. I wonder how she is this Mother’s Day.
I arrive at the hospital and think of the nurses I know. Some are not yet mothers, some mothers to be. One is celebrating her first Mother’s Day after a long journey of loss and, finally, adoption. One is on the journey to finding his birth mother. Two are in mourning, one the loss of her son, the other the loss of her mother; this the first Mother’s Day without them.
I start discharging my patients. One first time momma is hesitant to leave.
“Are you ready to go home?” I ask her.
“No! I love it here. I’m going to have to get pregnant again so I can come back,” she says.
“You can always come back and visit. Happy Mother’s Day!”
I remember that feeling. Nine months of intensive support and care, and then…off you go into the world of motherhood. I was hesitant too.
I visit another momma, who is ready to go. Her mother is on the floor below ours, in the ICU. Even though she is discharged, she will likely spend her Mother’s Day in the hospital. I say a little prayer for her family.
The rest go home too, and Labor and Delivery is…you know…I can’t say it, lest I jinx myself. I feel so lucky to know these mommas. To see them off on their journey into the world of motherhood. I often tell them it is the best and worst thing in the world. It is a love like you have never experienced. And that love creates the rest- fear, anger, exhaustion, and pain, all like you’ve never experienced. The world is black and white, until you become a mother.
So I’m feeling in technicolor this Mother’s Day. I am thrilled for those celebrating their first Mother’s Day, even if the baby isn’t born yet. Soon you will feel the thrill of little flutters inside. They will grow to swift kicks, and eventually, chubby feet lodged in your ribs. And although you will want this time to end, savor this time before your work begins.
I feel incredibly grateful for my job, where I have the privilege of caring for women as they enter their journey into motherhood. I love seeing the shock and joy on a new momma’s face as her eyes meet her little one for the first time. I love watching her stumble through her first diaper change and seeing the relief when her baby finally latches. This is just the beginning, momma. The work is hard, but the joy is easy.
My heart hurts for those facing this day in the wake of loss, both mother and child. It is a loss I cannot imagine, but one I will in all likelihood face.
And I am so in love with the little fellas that made me a mommy. You have brought so much joy to my life, I didn’t even know it was possible. I will gladly continue to clean the pee off the bathroom walls, if you will continue to crawl into my lap when you are having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
I am most grateful for my momma. The woman who taught me patience, never strangling my father even though he most certainly deserved it. The woman who taught me determination, keeping a full time job and going to school at night until, finally, she graduated college, the same year I did. The woman who taught me what it meant to be a working mom. The woman who taught me kindness and love, though I fall far short of her example. The woman who bought the green and blue airplanes that were thrown across the room.
I (quite literally) wouldn’t be where I am without her. Thank you just isn’t enough.
I head back home to see the rest of my boys. And I wait for the phone call that is sure to come. Another momma is waiting to be born.
Georgia Ragonetti-Zebell, MD is an OB/GYN practicing in Upstate South Carolina, and is mommy to four (yes, FOUR) boys. She is a graduate of the Women’s Health Pathway at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology with the Greenville Health System in Greenville, South Carolina. She has a special interest in natural childbirth, breastfeeding, and alternative methods in labor and delivery. She enjoys yoga, crochet, and reading, but spends most of her free time cleaning up poop while trying not to step on Legos.