A couple of things came to my attention this past weekend that made me think about what ties me to my son, what sustains this seemingly unbreakable bond we share. I read this article in the Huffington Post, which explores the lengths that women are going through to to carry a child themselves and give birth against all odds. I also watched a couple of episodes of a new television show, "The New Normal" that features a same-sex couple using a surrogate to make their dream of having a child come true. How do the two relate? They both made me realize that being pregnant and giving birth has very little to do with being a parent.
I used to think that when my child was born that I would look at him and just know, I would know that we belonged to each other. Maybe that's how it is for some people. Maybe it's because his birth took a left turn and he came out on the other side of a curtain, but when I first saw him, I didn't think about the fact that this was the life I had carried. I just had an overwhelming sense that this little person needed me, and I would do whatever it took to take care of him.
What happened in the hospital that day is not what makes me his mother. I am his mother because I have fed him every day for the last five months, I have comforted him when he cries, changed his diapers and done everything I can to help him grow. Other than breastfeeding, my partner has done the same, and he's just as much a parent as I am, regardless of where he was positioned in the delivery room.
My son doesn't look anything like me. But it's not the way that he looks, it's the way he looks at me that confirms that we're family. He looks to me for help and support, and on a more basic level, he looks to me for food. If I couldn't breastfeed, I would have to find some other way, because he needs me. I'm his mother.
I feel incredibly fortunate that I was able to get pregnant and have a child without a lot of heartache or effort on my part, but I know that if that wasn't the case, if I had adopted, used a surrogate or became a parent by any other method, I would be just as much a mother as I am today. Being a parent is not a matter of biology, it's a question of love, and love is available to anyone who is willing to give it.