Motherhood: the most challenging reward

Story by Patricia Merrick

Spring 2023

I never understood how something could be so challenging, yet so rewarding at the same time, until I became a mom.

I have a three-year-old son and seven-month-old daughter and they have shown me what love truly is, but also what it’s like to lose yourself in motherhood. It’s isolating but you also become part of a community.

I had an emergency C-section with my son Brandon and found out he had a cleft palate and Pierre Robin Sequence (basically, an underdeveloped jaw) after he was born. They took him away to the NICU before I could even get a good look at his sweet little face. The face I had been so eagerly waiting to admire for nine months.

Since then, it has been a bumpy road with our boy, from a major surgery to other medical issues and a diagnosis of Global Developmental Delay.

When I was pregnant for the second time, we were looking forward to having the “normal” baby experience. But not long into my pregnancy, they determined our daughter Summer also had a cleft palate and Pierre Robin Sequence. I will never forget that moment. My husband and I sat in silence and cried while the doctor explained to us what they saw on the ultrasound.

It took some time to accept that “normal” baby experience just wasn’t in the cards for us. We were having another baby that wouldn’t be able to come home for weeks. We would have to watch another baby go through the same painful surgery and all of the feeding and medical challenges along the way.

Being a parent of children with medical needs can be very isolating. We spend a lot of time at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and it’s hard to relate with other parents. But one little hug from my toddler or smile from my baby makes it all worth it.

Having little ones means being overstimulated most days but it’s important to give yourself grace at the end of the day. As hard as it is right now, I know I will miss these days – the days where I long for just one minute by myself but want my babies close all of the time.