I am a mother. This statement might confuse those who see me often. I don’t have a baby in my arms or a child clinging to my hand. I don’t have a rounded belly. I’m not likely to have any of those things anytime too soon either.
Still, I am a mother. I’ve joined the ranks of an often misunderstood, even more often silent, group of women. I’ve joined the ranks of childless mothers. We smile. We hope. We live our lives. Inside, though, we bear a pain that will never leave us. It’s the pain of a child we never got to meet, a smile that never filled our hearts with joy, and a heart that stopped beating far too soon or maybe even never beat at all.
We are mothers. The world may say we didn’t lose much. It was a clump of cells, that’s all, not even a stillbirth. We know this isn’t true. We know what is true. We are mothers.
On October 26th, I broke a promise I made to myself. I took a pregnancy test before the six week wait was up. Every month for nearly a year I had promised myself I would wait. Every month I had broken that promise. Every month the answer had been “no.” This month, my hands shook as I saw the two lines promising a baby.
I was so excited I couldn’t wait to tell my husband. I hurried to his school and found him during one of his planning periods. I remember the way his face brightened into a slow smile as he realized what I was telling him. He had become a father.
We found out we were parents that day. One month later, on November 26th, I lay on a cold examination table in a cramped dark room as a doctor coolly told me my baby had no heartbeat. She shuffled us out and moved on to her next task. She moved on to the living, and I left carrying death inside of me.
Many people would tell me that I’m still young. I still have time. They are probably right. Truthfully, though, I don’t care. I care about this baby. I lost our baby at 8 weeks but carried her for nearly 3 weeks more. During that time, I would place my hand over my womb and remember how I used to make that same small gesture while dreaming of greeting a new life this summer. Instead, I now thought of how that life was replaced with a death that was slowly leaving my body. Yes, I may get another chance, but I will never get this chance again. I want this baby not all the other chances.
I want to know what shade of blue her (or his) eyes would’ve have been. Would they have been greenish-blue like mine? Or would they have been dark blue like her father’s? Perhaps they would have been bright, dancing blue like her paternal grandfather’s. What color would her hair have been? Would she have had freckles? There are so many questions I’ll never get an answer to.
Recently, a friend who lost her husband a few years back posted a meme on Facebook. It was one of those pithy saying on a supposedly inspirational backdrop about how if God takes something away from us it means he has something better in return. She questioned the truth of this statement. She trusted God’s providence and goodness but also didn’t believe that he took away her husband because being without him was better.
The Bible promises that God will never withhold good things from us. Within our finite minds it’s a struggle to reconcile that thought with the loss of a loved one. I don’t understand why God took away my child. I do though, know that he wasn’t surprised at my baby’s death. He is in control. My baby’s life wasn’t a bad thing. God created it. He doesn’t necessarily have something better to give me in return. He does, though still have good gifts for me. Even our child’s life, as fleeting as it was, was a good and perfect gift from him. Any living children God might bless me with in the future are additional gifts, not a better replacement for this gift.
I suppose that’s where I rest right now, in the knowledge that I received a wonderful, blessed gift from God. I surrender that gift to his hands and trust his infinite mercy, but, like my friend and her husband, just because God took it doesn’t mean it was never a gift. And just because he has future gifts for me doesn’t diminish the beauty of this gift.
We found out our baby had died on Thanksgiving day. I expect that day will always be shadowed by the memory of our child’s passing. But I also think it was a good day to find out such horrible news. It reminded us to be thankful for the gift of this child.
I recently read these words from another mother who had gone through a miscarriage, “It’s going to hurt a lot for a little while,” she wrote. “And then it’s going to hurt a little for a long while. And there’s another side of this where you are OK again – not the same person you were, not “over it” – but OK again.”
Right now, I’m the first two of those things. Eventually, I will probably get to the last. I will be OK again, not the same, but OK. Loss has changed me. Motherhood has changed me.
I carried this baby alive for less than two months. I never felt a kick. I never was able to share the joy of her life with anyone but the closest friends and family, but she was a gift from God.
And that’s why, in the midst of a pain I can’t understand, I choose to focus on and thank God for one simple truth.
I am a mother.