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Today is my birthday. And like each birthday before there is a part of this day that takes me to thoughts of my mother. Not the mother who raised me (alongside my father), who taught me to walk, talk, who celebrated all my accomplishments, and helped me tackle obstacles in my life with grace and perseverance. Instead, my thoughts turn to the mother who gave me life.

I am adopted.

I was adopted as an infant and never met my biological mother. I know next to nothing about her, except that she was 16 years old and not ready to be a mom.

Growing up I thought very little of this fact about myself. It was just another sentence I learned. “I'm adopted." It carried very little meaning to me, and I think it's because I was adopted into a loving and caring family who provided me with every want a child could ask for. I never felt different or like an outsider in my family. My mind never wandered to thoughts of another family, a 'blood' family.

As a child I was, and to this day, loved beyond measure.

Then I became a mom.

And my first birthday after becoming a mom it hit me like a ton of bricks—sadness. I have never been angry at my biological mother or have never felt abandoned or unwanted. But for the first time, I felt such immense sadness for her.

I thought, "How did she do this? HOW DID SHE HAVE THE STRENGTH?" I couldn't bear the thought of ever handing over any of my children to never see them again, to never know what would become of their lives, the people they would become, the joys they would experience and the suffering I would help them get through. I couldn't imagine my child roaming this earth and not knowing me and me not knowing them.

It's with that sadness that I also developed a deep sense of gratitude for what she did. And maybe she didn't feel the sadness I imagine for my own self as a mother giving up a child? There's a part of me that likes to think maybe she felt some happiness in knowing she was providing something greater for me than herself.

If I could meet her and know her today, it wouldn't be enough to thank her. She has my unconditional love for not only giving me the very air I breathe but for being able to say goodbye so that I could have the best life possible.

It's mothers like her who every day make what I believe has to be the hardest decision of one's life, to give up a child. A child who is nurtured from day one growing inside a mother to the moment they enter this world.

To this mother, I am eternally grateful and indebted to. And I may never know how easy or how hard it was for her to give me away, but she will always be dear to me, and on my birthday she will never be far from my mind.

Because with her goodbye she gave me my greatest hello.

Originally posted on World's Average Mom.

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Back when my husband and I were creating our wedding registry, it was a fun, low-pressure opportunity to select some new dishes and linens. After all, I knew a thing or two about stocking my home and making the "wrong decision" with thread count was the only thing that posed any risk to my sleep at night.

Fast-forward a few years to when I created a baby registry before the birth of my first child—and I found the experience to have a much steeper learning curve. Unlike those sheets, it felt like a bad swaddle or bassinet selection would be catastrophic. Unsure of what to expect from motherhood or my baby, I leaned heavily on advice from friends who already ventured into parenthood. (Starting with their reminders to take deep breaths!)

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Now a mom of three little ones under the age of four, I'm happy to be in a position to pass along some baby registry wisdom.

Go shopping with a veteran parent

As first-time parents, my husband and I barely knew the difference between a bouncer and a swing, let alone what specific features we would want. So when a mom friend recommended we head to Walmart to build my registry together—because she found them to carry the trendy brands she loved AND make registering a breeze during her pregnancy—I leapt at the chance.

By walking through the aisles together and actually getting to see the products, I was much more confident in my registry selections. Thanks to that quick, in-store tutorial from my friend, I understood exactly how to match a perfect infant car seat with an extra base and stroller—which is something I would have been clueless about on my own.

Include items at a variety of price points

When it comes down to it, a registry is really a wish list. So, while I had a personal budget for a stroller if it had to come out of my own pocket, this was an opportunity for me to ask for the stroller of my dreams. And, wouldn't you know it? A few family members went in on it together, which made a bigger price tag much more manageable.

At the same time, it's nice to include some of the smaller ticket items that are absolutely essential. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I was to skip buying my own diapers for those first few weeks. (With super cute patterns, these are also surprisingly fun to give, too!)

Think about the gifts you would like to give

The first time I bought a mom-to-be a gift after my own child was born, I knew immediately what to look for on her registry: a diaper bag backpack, which I had come to have very strong opinions about after battling falling straps with my first diaper bag. This allowed me to feel like I had a personal touch in my gift, even if I brought one pre-selected by her.

I also appreciate it when my friends clearly incorporate their style into their registry choices, like with adorable baby outfits or nursery decor—and there's no sweeter "thank you" than a picture from a friend showing your gift in use.

Ask for things to grow with your child

Even though it's called a baby registry, there's no need to limit yourself to gifts to use before their first birthday. (To this day, I still have people who attended my baby shower to thank for the convertible bed that my oldest child sleeps in!) Knowing that, I would have included more options with long lifespans into my registry—namely, a baby carrier that can be used during the newborn months, baby months and well into the toddler years. A well-designed baby carrier would have saved my back from serious pain because it would have allowed me to comfortably and ergonomically carry my toddler as she made her way into the 25lb+ club. One brand that's designed to grow with your baby and accommodates 7-45 pounds (up to about four years old) and offers both inward and forward-facing positions is Ergobaby. With several different design and style options, you can easily find one that caters to your parenting needs. From an all-in-one carrier, like the Omni 360, that grows with baby from the newborn stages into the toddler years or a newborn-specific carrier, like the Embrace (and don't worry you can later upgrade to a carrier for an older baby, I recommend the 360 Carrier). The best part? All ergonomic designs are supportive and comfortable for both baby and parent, offering extra lumbar support with breathable, lightweight mesh styles. Everyone (even grandparents!) can get a kick out of babywearing, which is a nice and welcomed break for parents. Having one of these on my registry would have certainly made those first few years so much easier.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

This article was sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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