Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
I don't have a story to tell. No story that is my story. I could tell you about holding my friends' hands, shedding tears together, alternating between praying and swearing at anyone who mentions God. But those aren't my stories.
What I can tell you is that parents in particular are terrible at relating to the parents of lost children, Because we always forget that first word... parent.
Not every woman who experiences a miscarriage considers herself a mother. But most have, and once you've become a mother there's no going back. You don't stop being a mother because you've lost a child.
I don't believe that life starts at conception, but I do believe that emotions have value. That experience has value. If it happened to you, if the switch in your soul switched, and you became a parent, you never stop. You always will be.
Janet of Tell Another Mom published a letter I wrote several months ago. I would like to share it with all of you today.
To An Invisible Mom
Mothers are good at finding each other. It doesn't matter how long ago it happened, the magical moment when something about us fundamentally changed, but we all know it. The moment that we began thinking of ourselves as mothers. And for almost all of us, there is joy and pride in that title. We see other moms at the playground or in the grocery store, and if we can we go a little out of our way to show ourselves. Look over here! I see you, and we're members of the same club! Look at my badge! Look at my scars! Let me see yours!
We speak the same language. It was an unassisted VBAC! Did you get EI for his SPD?
We watch the same television. Isn't Caillou the worst? I always dancey dance.
We sing the same songs. Twinkle twinkle little star...
But what about the women afraid to raise their hands? Afraid to pin the motherhood badge to their chests and wear it with pride?
There are reasons to be afraid. Not for me, with my children at my side. But for you, my friend, the mother who lost her child before birth.
Mothers seem to spend a lot of time knocking each other down these days. But no matter what choices I make, you always support me. No matter how much I complain about the mundane frustrations of parenthood, you let me me know what a great job you think I'm doing. No matter how many thousands of pictures of my kids I put on facebook, you're always there, hitting "like" a thousand more times.
Every Mother's Day your heart breaks. Every Christmas, every anticipated birthday. You count the days and years. You believe in your heart that someday, in heaven, a child with your features will greet you with love, with the weight of the missed hugs and kisses of a lifetime.
You became a mother before your child was born. You knew that as you stepped on the scale, compared nausea stories, decorated a nursery. You had plans. You were ready to open your life for the child you hadn't met. Your heart was as open as the sky.
You are still a mother. You still speak that language you studied so carefully, even if you're afraid to join in conversation.
And I know why you can't. Sometimes you feel like a shadow, or a phantom, and you're afraid of the looks on other mother's faces if you spoke your story. Afraid of their fear. It's easier to be invisible.
And all of this, this is more proof that you are a mother. A woman who cares so deeply for the feelings and well being of another person that it pains you. You look at children with love, as parents do. You take pride in your experiences of motherhood. You deserve your joy, you deserve your happiness.
Whether or not you hold your own baby in your arms, squirming with life and constant need, you are still a mother. With the weight of your loss, you are not diminished. You are not other. You are one of us- one of the club.
My heart breaks for you, the mother who has experienced the worst of all motherhood has to offer. And it breaks for you for having missed the most joyful. You have lost your child, as fully and truly as the parent of any lost child. And so many people neglect you, ignore your experience. Tell you that you aren't a "real" mom.
But you are. I know it. And more importantly, you do. You know you became a mother once, and there is no going back. No un-becoming. No erasing the changes in your heart and soul.
You're doing a good job, mama. Every day you do more than the rest of us can comprehend- you keep going. You keep loving. You keep giving.
You are a good mom.
Even when you're the only one who knows it.