The first and probably more obvious choice would be to call myself a single mother. The associations and assumptions that come with that couple of words, however, isn't any way I regard myself, even though for all intents and purposes I am single.
Finally, I settled on "on my own." Ultimately, I am the only parent the boys have, so in that sense, the phrase is entirely accurate... Except that I find myself in a situation where I am surrounded by the most wonderful, miraculously supportive group of family and friends I have ever experienced.
Since moving to Portland in May, I have been invited to stay with friends - and since late June, those friends have been Korin and Ryan. They have opened their home and their lives to me and the babies and my sister. They have sacrificed their own daily rhythm in order to help me first get through my pregnancy, and then adjust to the demands of caring for Maxwell and Shoghi.
It was Korin who took me to the hospital at 1am when my water broke at 28 weeks. They have held my crying babies, nurtured me into motherhood, prepared meals, washed clothes, guided me in cloth diapering and nursing, and so very much more. Their families have embraced and loved us. Their patience and magnanimity have given us a shelter in which to become a family. How could one possibly convey the depth of gratitude that comes with receiving such a gift?
Korin stayed with me during the c-section while Laurie went with the boys.
Ryan with Shoghi in th NICU
Ryan with Shoghi in th NICU
Even before moving out here, one key relationship gave me daily support and championed my dream of being a mom: the relationship between me and my little sister, Laurie. After separating from my husband in October, Laurie moved in with me and was with me through every step of becoming a mom, from chosing a donor, to being with me for ultrasounds and comforting me at times when it looked doubtful that the pregnancy would continue. She and I would discuss hopes and dreams for hours, watching and listening to inspirational movies, books on CD, and songs. She packed my apartment and stepped out of her comfort zone to support me countless times. When it was clear that I wouldn't be able to make it on the cross-country drive we'd planned for months, she didn't make me feel guilty - instead she made arrangements to do the trip with a friend. After arriving in Oregon, her love and support became as much a part of my experience of becoming a mother as my own gestation and birthing of the boys.
She was the first person other than doctors to meet Shoghi and Maxwell, and she got to be the one to read to them their very first prayers - which would be the first words they heard after being born.
This is really only the base level of support I have received. Even my husband, who I remain separated from, has been incredibly supportive of me becoming a mother. He has gifted us with continued health insurance, which is only symbolic of the way he has gracefully and selflessly supported my choice to bring these boys into the world. My brother, my parents, my grandparents... they have all showered our little family with support.
I am also surrounded by the most amazing communities of friends - they believed in me and in this life at times when I never thought it would happen. Jennie; Melanie; Julie; Elizabeth B.; Atika; Doula Jessica; friends at CU ink; the amazing women from my baby shower; dear ones Hilary, Miriam, Jo, Kelly; Beemama; Wise Women Devon, Kate, Hilary, Zannalyn, River, Melanie, Sphinxie... friends who have sent cards and gifts and well-wishes and prayers... the list is so long, it overwhelms me! I love you all!!!
"On my own," then, doesn't at all describe my life. I am beyond grateful for this experience and the sense of abundance and possiblity that has blossomed in my awareness. I know that even if I am always and forever the sole parent for Shoghi and Maxwell, that we will always have an ocean of love and community around us.