The phenomenal Erica Sage Johnson and Sage Michelle-Marie (4 months). Erica always wanted to be a mother. When other girls were planning weddings and fantasizing about dresses she was plotting names and numbers of children for her future. Always a planner, motherhood has changed that. She now knows that life is beautiful even if you don't know exactly what will happen next.
At 18, Erica was was getting ready to graduate from high school and was in a long term unhealthy relationship when she found herself pregnant for the first time. She made the decision to terminate the pregnancy and was nervous that it may have been her only chance. Still, Erica says that she is grateful she was strong enough to make that choice for her body and herself at such a pivotal time. She would not be the person she is today, the mother she is today, had she moved forward with carrying that pregnancy.
In 2014, Erica and her boyfriend of five years decided they wanted to "not" not try to get pregnant. Within a month they found themselves with a baby on the way. She was extremely ecstatic but extra protective the entire pregnancy. Always in the back of her mind worried about one thing or another. As if somehow she would be punished for a decision made earlier in life. And she found it difficult to watch her body change in ways she could not control.
Erica planned to have a natural birth and 11 days post dates after 4 days of labor, getting stuck in transition and having to fight back the urge to push for over an hour, she successfully delivered her daughter without medication. She was overjoyed with her delivery and labor and felt empowered, courageous, and more womanly than she ever could've imagined.
Everyone describes new babies as perfect. 'Perfect little face', 'perfect little toes', a perfect baby. But what if they aren't born perfect? Despite what others said, Erica knew immediately that something was physically wrong with her daughter. After five doctor appointments before she reached a month and a half in age, she has been diagnosed with coloboma of the retina and microphathalmia. Sometimes with conditions of the eye, other organs can be affected. Luckily all tests have come back negative -pending a final genetic screening to ensure her eye condition is not genetic and hopefully the only hurdle she will need to overcome. Erica says they will continue to see opthamologists, ocularists and optometrists regularly for the next several years and she is currently staying home to focus on mothering and ensure her daughter is getting the best care. Erica is also exclusively breastfeeding and says that she has no doubt in her mind that her determination to have a natural birth and her commitment to breast-feeding despite initial struggles, have helped Sage remain healthy despite her condition.
Erica says, "I go back-and-forth with feelings of guilt. But I do what's best for my daughter every single day. We take things as they come now. I enjoy moments instead of ideas.
I still struggle with ideas of expectation and I'd like to prove to myself and Sage that we our own kind of perfect. A new definition I'm sure other mothers experience. We don't need to fit into any other ideals. We just need to be."