I remember sitting in the back of a Child Psychology class my junior year of college while my professor (who remains one of my favorite people ever) began talking about child development from conception. After the sperm and egg meet, the process of cell division occurs. Most of us remember from high school science what cell division looks like, but she introduced the class to an entirely new concept: cell differentiation. (Stick with me, I promise I'm going somewhere with this). Now, I'm not a science-y person by any means. But this new term stuck with me- I was fascinated by it. Basically, after the fertilized egg begins the process of cell division, cell differentiation takes place, where individual cells start taking on the characteristics of the specific cells they will become. In fact, a clump of cells will start randomly beating to form the baby's heart. No one knows how or why these cells, which are no different from any other cell, instinctively know to begin pulsing. They just do. This was the first time in my life when I thought of pregnancy as a seriously divine process.
Fast forward about six years. I found myself knocked up and experiencing all the ups and downs of this process. There were days when I hated being pregnant. Most days, if I'm being honest, I hated what I sensed as being a lack of control over my body. But every once in a blue moon, I would have this moment of clarity where I realized that my body knew exactly what to do. Without any effort on my part, my body was feeding, growing and nurturing this little child in my belly. It was as if there were some sort of divine being presiding over the process and controlling each step as it happened.
Then came the delivery. From a purely physical standpoint, the fact that every single day since the dawn of humankind, women have been able to push out a watermelon-sized human out of a grape-sized hole is a miracle in and of itself. But this was not what truly struck me about Charlie's birth.
For weeks and months I was terrified that my lack of maternal instinct and kid-friendliness would doom me as a mother. I felt a complete disconnect with the little parasite growing inside my womb and I feared I would be the first mother in the history of ever who would never be able to figure out how to love her child. Even as I moaned, groaned and screamed my way through pushing my child out- there was zero attachment.
Then it happened. Charlie was born. He cried that first cry and I was hooked. Through absolutely no effort on my part, I was hopelessly in love. Not familial love. Not romantic love. But an all-consuming, unconditional, I-would-do-absolutely-anything-for-you kind of love. Toward a person I had known approximately one second. The only way I could describe it, is that the instant Charlie was born, it felt that someone reached into my body and grew my heart three times its original size. (Just call me the Grinch). All of a sudden, I had this enormous capacity for love, without losing the love I had for Chuck, my family, my friends in the process. It was miraculous, sublime and divine.
I am not the kind of person who regularly recites Bible verses. I attend Church maybe once or twice a year. But becoming a Mom, experiencing the miracle of pregnancy- has been all I will ever need to convince me the presence of an all-mighty, omnipresent, loving God. I honestly wouldn't know how else to explain this new love of my life.
By the Grace of God alone, I am one blessed Mommy.