My Transformation Into Motherhood
Clara Fernandez Lopez
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 24 No. 6, November-December 2007, pp. 262-263
My mother was a nurse at the time she got married. She studied medicine afterward. I was born during her second year of studies, and my two brothers were born during her fourth and sixth years. She worked as a nurse in the mornings and attended university classes in the afternoon. She managed to study at home, raise three children, and keep up good grades. I still treasure memories of my mother picking me up from school, bathing me, playing with me, and reading stories to me.
My parents raised me with the idea of attending university and becoming a professional. My aims and dreams were to seek responsibility and look for a demanding career. I thought that only by being a great professional would I be able to find fulfillment in myself as a person. I wanted to have children, and always loved every child that crossed my path. Motherhood was, in some way, included in the package of being a woman, but was neither the priority nor a goal.
Things in Spain are quite different than in other parts of the world. Here, people postpone marriage until they are older. Very few people who have studied at university get married before the age of 30. Having a child at age 35 or older is quite the norm. People want to move their careers forward as much as possible delay maternity until they have achieved all their professional goals.
My husband and I were married at the age of 25. Even my mother could not believe it. She used to tell everybody that I was 26 because she was kind of ashamed that I would get married "that young." I got pregnant when I was 28. Everybody at my work was very surprised. At that stage, I was just starting to be respected as a lawyer and would lose much of that respect if I became a mother. However, I made the decision on purpose, as I wanted to be a mother and I knew things would be difficult in regard to my job if I waited any longer.
Soon after I became pregnant, something deep inside me just changed! I suddenly felt myself fulfilled. I felt a strong bond with my baby, soon to be born. I felt myself powerful, full of life, and happier than I had ever been before.
The doorman of the building where my law firm is located is a very friendly man, always very nice and helpful. I had not told him that I was pregnant, but one day he realized and said, "Oh God, you are pregnant! Now I am able to understand your happiness. I have noticed in the last months that you are transformed. Your eyes shine and you don't look the same."
Well, it was true. I was feeling privileged to become a mother, to carry a baby in my womb, to experience the magic of pregnancy. Every time I saw my baby in the ultrasound scan, I felt overwhelmed. I could not understand how some women give up on the prospect of motherhood in favor of careers. Nothing could compare to the personal satisfaction I felt as an expecting mother.
I read a lot of books about bonding with baby during pregnancy. I talked to my son, sang him songs, read him poetry, and caressed him through my tummy. I knew things would never be the same after my baby was born, as my job now took second place on my list of priorities. My baby had become number one.
After my son, Juan, was born, I experienced a strong need to be with him. I loved spending time with him, playing with him, and reading to him. I adored talking to him and cherished holding him in my arms and breastfeeding him. Whatever I did with him gave me great joy.
Now that Juan is 20 months old, a lot of people criticize me because I don't leave him with my mother to go out. I do not choose to have a "weekend getaway" with my husband without taking our son with us. I am seen as a strange mother who spends too much of her free time with her baby and who does not want her "willing to do so" mother to baby sit on weekends.
Fortunately, I am able to cope well with criticism. I understand that some people see my attitude toward motherhood as strange. Becoming a mother has made a great change in my way of thinking. I know it is a great responsibility to raise a child and accompany him on his way to adulthood. I think it's so important that I'm looking for ways to reduce my work schedule without losing my job and causing our finances to suffer.
In Spain, most of the mothers wean their babies when they return to work after their maternity leave. Some don't even realize that breastfeeding and working are perfectly compatible -- that breastfeeding gives employed moms a way to connect with their babies quickly at the end of the workday.
I'm proud of being a successful, employed, breastfeeding mother. It's my hope that my story will help and encourage other women who are finding their own way as mothers.