In celebration of mothers and Mother’s Day, we asked the University of Vermont Medical Center’s labor nurses, postpartum nurses, and nurse-midwives to share their thoughts on motherhood and helping others become mothers.
Amelie Thurston, Labor and Delivery Nurse
“Being present for the experience of birth and becoming a mother is an endlessly awe-inspiring privilege. No matter how a baby is born, and no matter the outcome of the birth, each and every birth is miraculous. It connects women to the primal place inside of them that gives us purpose and helps make sense of an often painful world. Being a mother is the single most meaningful job I have ever had. The gift of being her mom constantly teaches me that this life of hers isn’t about me. I have been honored with the privilege of guiding her and guarding her. Even though she is my heart beating outside of my body, she is running her own show and I am the honored guest in the front row seat.”
Sasha Gawlik, Labor and Delivery Nurse
“Motherhood has taught me to forgive myself for my imperfections. To forgive the ways I wish I had parented better at the end of the day and to hold on to how much I’ve given, loved, shared, and imparted with these little people.”
Sue Snyder, Labor and Delivery Nurse
“Becoming a mother has taught me that I can love more than I ever thought possible. That I am stronger than I knew. And more patient. And that I don’t really need that much sleep. I’ve learned that not just birthing, but also raising kids is incredibly hard and unbelievably amazing. That, more often than not, it is both at the same time. I’ve learned that I am so, so lucky to call these little people mine.”
Sarah Masi Kahrs, Labor and Delivery Nurse
“I didn’t come to motherhood in any sort of traditional way. I rather like to think that my daughter found me. I’m an adoptive parent; my daughter was 6 when I was finally able to legally adopt her. Her birth mother became unable to care for her due to a series of life events and circumstances out of her control, and I was the only other adult in Anneliese’s life at the time that cared for her regularly.
The day that Anneliese was adopted, the family court judge turned to her and asked her what she wanted her last name to be. She excitedly told her that she would like to change it to match mine. She then signed her “new” name on her adoption certificate and both our lives were forever changed.
Fifteen years later, my daughter has become a mother herself. We survived a rocky childhood and an even rockier adolescence and found ourselves on the other side with a mutual respect and love for each other greater than either of us could have imagined. Mothering, and watching my daughter become a mother herself, has taught me some of the most valuable lessons of my lifetime: Patience – lots and lots of patience – and then more patience. Listen – often and closely. Expect the best from them – they will rise to your expectations and be proud that they did. Honesty is key – be honest and open and they will mirror that behavior back to you in amazing ways.
And love…give your children unconditional love, heaps and heaps. It’s the most wonderful gift you will ever get in return.”
Bonitta Steuer, Certified Nurse-Midwife
“Becoming a mother changes everything. Helping women in that life transformation is, for me, sacred work. I feel blessed every day to be present for women making that journey. My own journey in motherhood is graced by two amazing children, a loving partner and a community of wonderful family and friends who mother each other’s children. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers in our lives!”
Samira Lawson, Labor and Delivery Nurse
“Being a mother has changed me. Not only physically, but chemically. From the moment I gave birth to my first baby something inside of me changed. It was instant. It was intense. I felt an overwhelming warm sensation fill my body and heart. I knew that no matter what happened that my ultimate goal in life was to now protect and love this baby. I felt like my heart would burst with so much love.
I’m not saying it’s all amazing. The lack of sleep, leaking boobs, pain from C/S and then from vaginal deliveries. The responsibility was difficult at best. But, I felt like I was doing what I was meant to do. To be a mother. To nurture, grow, and protect my offspring. That immediate intensity lessened with each baby. Not that I didn’t love them as much, but it was that first that broke my heart open in a way I had never felt. After her, the other two just fell into my heart, delicately and wholeheartedly.
When my last baby was 19 days old, we were given some overwhelming news about her health. My husband and I thought she wouldn’t survive. I can still feel that cold, empty, panicky feeling I had the exact moment they told me how sick she was. I had only had this baby for 19 days, but I had birthed her, smelled her, held her, nursed her, cleaned her, snuggled her, and bonded with her. I loved her. I couldn’t imagine a life without her. That thought was literally unthinkable. I lost a part of my confidence as a mother that day. I will never be able to feel completely relaxed about the health and wellbeing of my children. But, it also gave me a new appreciation for how fragile life is and to absolutely live each day to its fullest. We were lucky. We got to take our baby home five days later with a scar as a constant reminder of how strong and amazing she is. And how very, very lucky we were. I can’t imagine the pain of parents who aren’t so lucky.
Being a mother is getting to relive childhood. To watch your child fill with excitement and joy is one of the best things. I never thought I would be so into being a mother as I am now. I love it all. The noise, the mess, the laughs, the cries, the night wakings, the fun, the snuggles, I love it all. And isn’t that what it’s all about? Love. It’s all about love. The most intense and wonderfully beautiful love.”
Jessica Driver, Labor and Delivery Nurse
“Since becoming a mother in 2013, it has opened my eyes to an amazing new world. My girls inspire me to be a better person and nurse each and everyday. It has taught me both patience and compassion. I now have a better understanding of how quickly life passes by. You must stop and embrace every moment.”
Mieneke Maher, Labor and Delivery Nurse
“Every time I have the honor of witnessing a birth it still instills awe in me that it is going to work again.”
Angela Pratt, Labor and Delivery Nurse
“The power of birth is the single most life changing event a woman will ever experience. To shift the focus from self to baby is a wonderful transition that changes the world.”
Marti Churchill, Certified Nurse-Midwife
“I feel incredibly honored to be with women and families as they become mothers, fathers, families. It is truly a sacred time – a time that demands sacred presence. Being a midwife and witnessing many, many births with families gave me the strength to be ready for my own births – and yet I, too, was awakened and born as a mother in a way in which I never would have been able to be fully ‘prepared’ for. It is a powerful transition into parenthood. These three wise children teach me still – into their teenage years. But we all, as mothers, must be open to that teaching of our children and have a willingness to stay true to unconditional love and acceptance.”
Karen Camp, Labor and Delivery Nurse
“As a labor and delivery nurse, I am amazed at the inner strength of my patients. To be the one to foster that strength and help a patient realize their full potential is very rewarding. I recently had a mother to be say ‘I will be getting an epidural. My friends and family all told me I wouldn’t do it without one.’ As she labored that day she was doing such a great job, I kept encouraging her to go a little more, before she knew it she had delivered her baby without an epidural. After, she was shocked at how strong she was. I praised her amazing strength and reminded her to trust in herself not how others see her. With tears in her eyes as she thanked me and I thought ‘this is why I do what I do. Motherhood….the most difficult job you will ever love.’ When that little one wraps their arms around your neck and gives you a wet sloppy kiss your heart just melts!”