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Becoming Mothers: The Joyful Surprise of Motherhood

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I remember when I found out that I was going to become a mother for the first time.  And during that magical 9 months, I heard many stories.

“That was the most pain I’ve ever been through, including the time I had a root canal, kidney stones, and a herniated disc at the same time.”

“I had no idea that could happen.  I’ll never be able to pee the same way again.”

“If that man comes near me one more time, I’ll….”

Well, this is a family blog, so I won’t finish that sentence.

I didn’t have one of those stories.  Oh, sure it hurt.  Men dismiss it, but if you ask them what they think it might feel like to push a kidney bean out of an indelicate place, they get a little pale and quickly change the subject.

As a mother of three, you can bet I have some stories.  But my favorite was when my third, my daughter, was born.

Let me preface this by saying that she was our joyful surprise.  We already had a boy and a girl and had discussed at length whether or not we wanted our family to grow any more.  My mother always said that families should have an even number so that “everyone has a partner on the roller coaster.”  And after a lengthy conversation with my hips when they both said, “Woman.  If you make us have four we’ll boycott you in a way you don’t want,” my husband and I decided that two was enough.  So when I found out I was pregnant with my third, already battling two willful toddlers, I found myself crying.

For 9 months.

I really don’t think I realized that I was actually going to have a third baby until I went into labor with her.  We had been preparing a room, buying diapers, and obviously I was “in bloom,” but I don’t think I really knew she was coming until she came.

As most women will say, when getting ready for the first child, you read every book, buy every piece of equipment you can get your hands on, and prepare yourself for the unpreparable.  By the time you have your second, you’re a little more seasoned and just use what you already have.  Any child after that…well…

That kid can walk out of you if she wants to.  You just hope it’s not in the middle of something important.  Like a new episode of Modern Family.

My daughter started making her appearance when my water broke at church as I stood up for the Benediction.  Being the professional mom that I was at that point, I had taken “precautions” so as not to embarrass my husband with a large release of fluid in public.  And, being the professional I was, I knew one thing for sure:  Once you get to the hospital, they don’t feed you until that baby is born.  And that could take hours.

I leaned over to my husband as we were getting ready to leave the sanctuary and whispered, “My water just broke.”

And of course he said, “Okay.  Let’s get the kids, leave them with your mother, and head to the hospital.”

I shook my head and said, “Oh no.  We’re going to brunch.”

We collected my two oldest children from the nursery and then headed to breakfast where my husband and mother watched me like a ticking time bomb as I blissfully ate my waffles and scrambled eggs.  And after dropping my kids off with my mother at our home, we calmly made our way to the hospital.  My husband, who was in the process of buying a new car, talked on his cell phone, trying to negotiate a price.  I heard him say, “Well, I would come by today, but my wife is having a baby right now.  Can I come by tomorrow?”

We were pros.

After getting checked in (and I received the necessary drugs), my husband and I watched the Pittsburgh Steelers game until Sarah decided to make her appearance.  And when she did, I felt silly for all of the months of worrying I had just been through about how we would make this work.  Because I knew the first time that I held her that us having a third child was just meant to be.

You know, you don’t necessarily become a mother when your child is born.  Childbirth is just a technicality.  You become a mother when you’re up all night because someone you love more than yourself has a tummy ache.  You become a mother when you lay blankets out in the backyard on a summer night to watch the stars come out.  You become a mother when you hug someone because they got their feelings hurt at school, when you punish them so that they’ll ultimately grow up to become the person you know they can be, and when you smile driving down the road because you’re remembering something funny they said a year ago.

I know this because I’m a mother of three.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Catherine Tidd is a writer, widow and mother of three. She is the founder of, a free peer support website dedicated to anyone who has lost a significant other and has a Facebook peer support page under the name Widow Chick. Along with being published in several books on grief and renewal, Catherine is also a humorous motivational speaker who focuses on “finding joy in a life you weren’t expecting.” She also writes a blog on parenting and NASCARing called NASCAR Brady Bunch.

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Author: Catherine

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  • comment avatar Amber Johnson May 9, 2012

    OHMYGOSH, this is why I love you. I wish I’d have been smart enough to think of going to brunch after my water broke. HILARIOUS!

  • comment avatar Gretchen White May 9, 2012

    Loved this story!

  • comment avatar Daria May 9, 2012

    I totally get this! My 3rd was the same way. I pretty much ignored that I was pregnant until it was time to deliver and we fell in love immediately – she was also a girl after a boy and a girl.

    I too made sure to eat dinner before meandering to get the kids’ stuff gathered and chatting with Grandma as we dropped them off. Amazing the difference between the first and the third. 🙂

  • comment avatar Sarah May 9, 2012

    I love your definition of a mom, it is true and beautiful. I didn’t feel like a mom the second my son was born, maybe that is why!

    • comment avatar Catherine May 9, 2012

      Sarah…I remember feeling that way as well when my first child was born. I thought there was something wrong with me! It took a while for that motherly instinct and bond to kick in. And when I talked to several friends years after our kids were born, I found out that I wasn’t alone. A LOT of them felt that way…but no one talked about it because I think we were afraid of how it would sound.

      But once that motherly instinct kicked in, it was like it went into overdrive! :>)

  • comment avatar Lori Lavender Luz May 9, 2012

    You are a lady who has her priorities straight.

    First, eat.
    Second, let Husband get good deal on car
    Three, get thee to the hospital.

    Love your penultimate paragraph.

  • comment avatar Catherine May 9, 2012

    Listen…my husband knew that the only thing that made me crankier than childbirth was hunger. I’m sure he thought of that brunch as his only chance for survival!

  • comment avatar JoAnn May 10, 2012

    What a great story! 🙂

  • comment avatar Lisa - Laughing Yoga Mama May 11, 2012

    Can’t decide if my favorite part is your description of being “in bloom” or the expressions I imagine on your face and that of your family’s as you said, “Oh no, we’re going to brunch,” and then savored every bite.
    Love it!!

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