Jen Stendell

I didn’t know what to expect on that day 15 years ago when I began my journey into motherhood. I had no idea how intense I would feel in those moments that culminated in you becoming a part of our lives forever. It was an occasion full of highs and lows, to be sure, but I’ll tell you one thing, kiddo: I wouldn’t trade my memories of it for anything, because the day you were conceived was the best day of my life.

It was such a beautiful and powerful experience. I had never realized just how wonderful conception would be.

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That said, I honestly didn’t know what I was in for. I’ve often wished my own mother would have sat me down and talked to me about it the way I am talking to you now. Conceiving was unlike anything I’d ever felt before. It hurt more than I expected, and it seemed like it would never end! But as I gripped the sides of the bed and my screams filled the room, I just had to remind myself that all this was leading up to one very special moment.

There were times, in the middle of it all, when I wasn’t sure I could take it and I swore I’d never do this again. But that night, as I bit down on my lip, dug my nails into my palms, and tried to control my breathing, my body did things I never could have imagined.

Conceiving you changed me physically and emotionally. As I lay there, I felt so vulnerable and exposed, but your father—that man was a rock. He wiped my brow and spoke encouraging words in my ear, telling me how beautiful I was and urging me not to stop. He was so amazing and supportive and there for me in ways I never knew were possible. Looking back on it, I realize he may have been just as nervous as I was, but he sure did his best!

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It may be hard for you to believe, sweetheart, but if you had seen me then you would have hardly recognized me—my hair wild and disheveled, my whole body shuddering and covered in sweat. Between the noises I was making and the way I was moving, I must have seemed like some kind of wild creature. And in a strange way, I felt like an animal, too. I’ll never forget clutching your dad and squeezing him with all the strength I could muster.

Gosh, it’s just a day you remember forever, sweetie.

Not everything went as planned, though. I won’t gross you out with all the details about bodily fluids, but there were some complications. Daddy and I weren’t quite sure what to do. He tried to help move me into a more comfortable position—on my side, on all fours, squatting. He even got me to try it in the tub, but nothing was working. All along, I had thought I would go the natural route and skip the drugs, but eventually I realized I needed them. I know it’s different for every woman, but for me it felt as though I might tear right in half!

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We had been up for hours, and exhaustion and dehydration were overtaking me. I was scared it was never going to happen and started to doubt whether we had made the right choice in deciding to do it at home. All I wanted was for it to be over so I could rest, but your father—so attentive to my every need—looked me right in the eyes, lifted up one of my legs, and reminded me that I could do this.

And then, with one last push, it was all over. Suddenly, motherhood was upon me.

Afterward, I was positively glowing. I felt a rush of happiness and relief surge through my body as I gazed into your dad’s eyes, his head resting peacefully on my chest. I think about that day all the time, honey.

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Thank God your father got it all on film.