Over the last few years, my life has changed in numerous and tremendous ways. However, none of these changes was as intense as the transition to motherhood. Becoming a mother teaches me so much about life, but most especially about love. Today I reflect on the beautiful gift of a child and the way it transforms how I love as well as my understanding of love.

1. Love is life-giving

From the earliest moments of a child’s existence, when sperm meets egg and a new human being takes shape, changes begin in the mother’s physiology. Within a matter of days, these hormonal shifts are distinct enough to elicit a positive pregnancy test. I remember so well the day that we found out that we were expecting. Two pink lines evidenced that our lives were forever changed. We were parents. God had seen fit to take the love between my husband and me and create a new life from our love.

For the next eight or so months, my body was a vessel of new life, nurturing and growing a baby. We followed his progress, learning the new things he could do and the ways in which he was developing with each passing week. When we discovered our pregnancy, our little baby was the size of a poppy seed and each week he grew bigger and stronger and more ready to be born and enter the outside world. My love for this little one was giving him life.

Even after his birth, my baby still relies on me for everything: comfort, food, warmth, and care: I am his world and he is mine. My love continues to give him life, nourishing his little body with milk and ministering to his every need.

2. Love is demanding

Pregnancy is no easy task. In the first few months, I felt so tired and queasy. In the last few months, I felt so uncomfortable and big. The physical and emotional stress of carrying and growing a new life takes its toll. Yet every discomfort, ache, and pain goes to a most incredible cause: a child. Love for the baby I’d yet to hold made it all worthwhile.

Then it was time for labor and delivery. I’ll admit that I dreaded this stage throughout my pregnancy. It was this huge barrier that stood between me and holding my baby. While it was excruciating, I only felt joy and love when my newborn son nuzzled into my chest. Holding him in my arms moments after his birth made every bit of pain more than worth it.

The first few months with a newborn are a lot of work. It is utterly exhausting; sleep deprivation becomes a way of life. Babies need care around the clock, leaving new parents drained of energy. Yet looking at that sweet face, totally dependent on you, you are filled with love for this little person. Although the challenges of parenting will change as our son grows, there will always be lows along with the highs. It s both a huge responsibility and a tremendous privilege to be entrusted with another life.

3. Love is transforming

Love changes us for the better, pushes us out of our comfort zone, and enables us to do difficult things. Our very identity is defined by the ways in which we love. Love for my parents makes me a daughter. Love for my siblings makes me a sister. Love for my husband makes me a wife. Love for my child makes me a mother.

One of the most amazing things I’ve witnessed is the transformation that took place in my husband as he undertook the role of father. There are two moments while we were expecting that particularly stand out to me. The first was the look on his face when he saw our baby on the ultrasound monitor for the first time. The second was when I placed his hand on my belly and he felt our baby kick in utero. In both those moments, he bonded with our unborn child and fatherhood became real to him.

As much as my husband and I loved each other before our son was born, that love grew exponentially with the addition to our family. The way he looked at me when he held our newborn in his arms confirmed what I felt too. We were more than just husband and wife. Love had transformed us into mom and dad to our infant as well. Our love was growing deeper and more intense by being shared with this little one. We took on our new roles, drawing from God’s love to strengthen us where we were lacking. We continue to draw from that superabundance, allowing His love to fashion us into ever better versions of ourselves as we grow and answer His call to holiness through the vocation of marriage.

4. Love is beautiful

A wave of love washed over my husband and I as we saw our baby’s image for the first time via ultrasound. Barely weeks old, our little baby was visible on the monitor, moving around, his little heart beating. We have the sonogram picture framed in our living room to this day. At each subsequent visit, we were able to hear his heartbeat and it reinforced our connection with our little one.

One of the most incredible parts of pregnancy is feeling one’s baby kick and move and even hiccup. At first, I could only feel his movements within my abdomen, but soon enough, he grew strong enough for my husband to feel as well. Each flutter reminded me that I was carrying another being within myself; a separate life was growing inside me. Love surged within me for my tiny son.

Now, I have a beautiful little boy. His smiles and laughter fill me with inexpressible joy. He stops his wiggling and squirming to be still in my arms and burrow his head into my shoulder. He gazes into my eyes and holds my face in his hands. Wordlessly, he expresses his love for me. Overcome with emotion, I can’t believe he’s mine. I hold him close and whisper, “I love you so much, baby.”