Growing up, the word ‘mom’ was simple. It meant somebody that had a child she gave birth to and took care of. Becoming a birth mom has made the concept of mother more complicated. Some days I don’t feel like a mom at all. I don’t rock my baby to sleep at night. I don’t know what foods she likes and I’m not there when she learns new words. I feel like claiming to be a mom invalidates the woman who does all those things–she is the most amazing woman I know. I could never claim to be the mother of the child she has sacrificed so much for. My pregnancy seems surreal to me now–I wonder if the photos I have of the girl with the round belly are really me. How could it be? My life revolves around my course schedule, not nap time.

But then I see my stretch marks and remember that I have stayed up all night with this child. She woke me at 4 am everyday to kick me in the ribs and make me sick. I carried her for nine months, and went through ten hours of hard labor to give her life. I was there from her very first heartbeat. I have loved her longer than anyone else. I have given her everything–I gave her my blue eyes and light hair. I gave her my body that will never be the same. But most importantly, I gave her my heart. That little baby carries it with her every day. I sacrificed what I wanted for her good. I was her mommy; I wanted to take her home with me. But I knew what was best for her, even if it means I hurt. Because that’s what moms do.

I may not be her parent. But I am a mother. Without me, she wouldn’t have the best mommy and daddy in the world. She wouldn’t have life. Without me, she couldn’t be her. I am her mother (noun) because I gave birth to her. Her adoptive mom is her mother (verb) because she provides daily care for her baby. I matter. Her adoptive mom matters. We are both her “real” mom. A child can have two moms. Two women who will love and sacrifice for her the rest of their lives. What a special little girl to be loved so much. Desha Wood summed it up perfectly in my favorite quote: “[She] is mine in a way she will never be hers. Yet she is hers in a way she will never be mine. And so together, we are motherhood”.