I remember when I realized my Mom was one of a kind.  I had always loved her, with her soft hands and voice, the tender way she held me in the crook of her small arm, and the way she could make my birthday seem like it was only the one she’d ever celebrated.  But I think it was when I was about nine and we were fooling around in the kitchen that I realized that she was a mother made just for me.  I was getting ready to go to a friends house and we were running late as usual.  But for some reason we had an impromptu song fest, laughing so hard we leaned on each other.  My other Dad John took pictures and froze the images from that day in my memory; my Moms arms tightly around me, me in a fluffy pink jacket with a pink barrette, our smiles taking up most of the pictures.  In those moments I hoped that someday I’d be that kind of mom.

I was thirteen when I decided I wasn’t going to have any children.  My Mom and John had given birth to my sister Hannah that fall.  She was a gorgeous little baby with dark eyelashes and big beautiful eyes.  She also had a voice.  A very loud, high pitched scream that resonated from the house from about 6 to 10 pm.  Her very very tired parents tried everything to calm her; placing her on the dryer in her car seat and singing to her, driving with her around the neighborhood, running the vacuum on our hardwood floors for hours.  There is nothing like having a colicky baby in the house when you’re a teenager from keeping you from becoming a teenage parent.  Nothing.

When I was Fifteen my Mom gave birth to my sister Kaitlin.  By that time Hannah was a sweet toddler, and as much as Hannah had screamed Kaitlin would smile with bright blue eyes.  They were so different, but so unique and loved by me.  I distinctly remember the day my mom said that choices I made would eventually affect them.  They looked up to me.  That was around the time I had really started embracing my faith, and I started making better decisions.  I still was very adamant to my siblings, that there was no way I’d ever have kids.  I’d be the best big sister to Hannah and Kaitlin ever.  I’d be one of those super cool Aunts. And that was enough for me.

Then I met Chris.

It’s amazing how meeting the rest of your life, makes you think about how you want to live it.  He was everything I’d ever wanted and I wanted to live our life together to the fullest extent.  I never saw myself having children before because I didn’t see the other half.  But when I saw him it all came together.  I could be a Mom, as long as he was the Dad.

And then my sister Melissa lost two children.  My heart broke for her.  One Sunday I watched her sob next to me in mass as a baby was baptized.  I pled to God for her, kneeling on a hard wooden pew. In the most desperate and helpless prayer I told God that I would give up my right to have children if she could.  Within the next month she was pregnant, I assumed that was the answer to my prayer.  I could never have children, and I was okay with that.  I saw how happy she was, and I wanted her to be happy.  When I told Chris, he was not okay.  In fact, he was livid. But I’d said the prayer, my sister was pregnant, and I thought that’s how God worked.

Naive, right?

And then four months into our marriage we conceived our Jonah.  That was when I realized that God doesn’t make deals.  And since the day he was born I have loved being a mother.  Each day with Jonah, Daniel, and Micah is filled with teeny miracles.  Sure there are days when I feel unappreciated, smell like remnants of yogurt that Micah has wiped on my pants, or I don’t know if I can take one more time finding little yellow spots on the back of the toilet.  But those are the things that don’t matter down the road.  What matters are the hugs, the smiles, the I love you Mommy I hear a hundred times a day.  What really matters is how they hold hands during prayer.  The way they all have to raise their hands first at the dinner table to say their favorite part of the day, even when they haven’t even thought about what it is yet.

I don’t think many people were surprised when that Chris and I decided to do this again.  As I end my 11th week of pregnancy I am a whole mess of tired nauseous hormones.  I am excited for whoever this little person is.  I can’t wait to meet them.  But there is a lot of fear too, fear that radiates through my head and makes my heart hurt.  I have been really sick again, so sick I am now on the last resort medication.  Everyday I wake up and pray that everything will be okay. Please God, make everything okay.

I’m not naive as I used to be.  I’ve lost a child, and much later than 11 weeks. I have to trust that this eensy weensy miracle will thrive, and be healthy.  I think of my children, all of them…Jonah with his gentle and generous spirit. Daniel with his vivid imagination and sweet spunk.  Micah with his precious demeanor, brown curls, and zest for life.  My daughter, Mary, who will forever be my girl. And this little jelly bean, such a blessing, so loved already.

I wish I could be carefree as the little girl with the pink barrettes in the picture, safe in my mothers arms. But now my job is to wrap my arms around my own.  Maybe someday they will have memories of me, where I ran late for them.  Where we laughed so hard that our stomachs hurt.  Today Jonah told me I was the best best mom he’d ever had.  Today Daniel made me a card with pictures.  Today Micah cuddled with me after my nap, running his chubby hands along my cheek, whispering, “Gentle Mama.”  Today my girl’s pink roses bloomed bright and bold.  Today I threw up once, almost fainted, and prayed for all the miracles big and small.

I may never be that kind of Mom. Or maybe that’s all I ever been.  But I do know I carry that kind of love. The love from a Mother made just for them.