What Is A Mother?

December 2007 I found out I was pregnant. Jared was in Grad school and we were living in Indianapolis, IN. I remember that day. Nothing really changed, I had technically already been pregnant for a few weeks, but knowing changed everything.

February 2007, the look on the ultrasound technician told me everything. Nothing had changed really, I had already lost the baby, but knowing changed everything.

Piper & Gretel Andersen — Twin Girls with Williams Syndrome


Mother’s day 2007, was I a mother?

It was a weird limbo feeling. Yes, I had experienced pregnancy, to some degree. Yes, I had that moment of realizing, for the first time, your body is creating life. Yet, I didn’t have a baby. I shunned the baby isle at the store. I dove deep into things I thought pregnant woman couldn’t do. I tried to celebrate not being a mother, as I had convinced myself I was, indeed, not a mother. This was  based off of the fact that I had no child.

May 2020, I have three children. Am I a mother? Technically, yes. I have birthed children - two at the same time.  

Here are the cold hard facts about my children:

  • all of my children have learning disabilities. Gavin has dyslexia and the twins as a by-product of Williams syndrome
  • all of my children have speech issues. Gavin has been in speech therapy since he was 18 mo. old. The girls also due to Williams Syndrome 
  • all of my children have or will have an IEP: Individual Learning Plan though the school system.  This is a plan developed with the help of specialized teachers and aids to give your child the tools they need to succeed in school, since the mainstream approach simply will not be enough.  
  • all of my children have feeding issues.  Gavin’s feeding issues are in conjunction to his speech issues.  The girls’, again, from Williams syndrome. Our meals look different from “normal”.  
Piper & Gretel Andersen — Twin Girls with Williams Syndrome

Are my children typical? No. Have I felt the desire to shelter my children and shun the world as I did the baby isle at the store? Yes.  

My children have needed help from the outside. They have had to learn to adapt. And adapt they do. 

They go day to day making big or micro adaptations to accomplish what they desire in their heart- to be kids who play and laugh with all their “typical” peers.

Gretel’s run is stiff and her knees don’t bend as they should, but she runs in her own adapted way. Are my children less than? No. Just because their bodies don’t do what they are typically prone to do, it does not mean they are any less than.  

Being a mother of special needs kids has its own arena of emotions and hard.  

Being a mother of twins has its own arena of emotions and hard.  

Being a secondary infertile mother has its own arena of emotions and hard. 

Being a mother of just one child has its own arena of emotions and hard. 

Being a mother of no children has its own arena of hard.  

I can speak personally for all of these. 

I am left with no doubt being a mother of 6 with the 7th on the way would have its own arena of emotions and hard, same for blended family mothers, step mothers, foster mothers, etc. 

The dome is motherhood. Within the dome are endless arenas. No arena is harder than the other. All have positives and all have difficult.  

Hold on, you say? A mother of no children?? 

Yes. A mother of no children. 

The woman whose soul mothers but her body doesn’t create children. A Special Needs Mother: A woman whose body does not do what it is typically prone to do. She is no less a mother than my children are less than any other child. The infertile mother may need outside help. She may need to make adaptations. But she mothers in her own way.  

My children have taught me this. How I wish I could go back and tell my 2007 self this. I didn’t need to shun the isle. I didn’t need convince myself I wasn’t a mother because I didn’t fit into one definition. I was not less than. Nothing would have changed, but knowing would have changed everything." - Jackie Andersen from @jackieandersen

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