My first Mother’s Day is gone from my memory, fried out, no doubt by several factors.
My only baby had died just 10 days before.
At church that Sunday, all the Mothers were told to stand, and while I have no idea if I stood up or not, I’m pretty sure I probably did something awkward, embarrassing, and uncomfortable for everyone around me. In fact, I’m pretty sure I left sobbing.
Nobody knew what to say or do. Card or not? Flowers or not? I had to hole up and wait for sunrise Monday before I felt it was safe to communicate with anyone without disappointment or upset.
Here’s what I wish I had known that first Mother’s Day, and what I’d do differently.
Remember that I am a mother. A nice piece of jewelry would have appeared with a lovely birthstone, even if I had to order it myself. It’s easy. Here’s an excellent place.
Spend the day with my child. Fill out a memory book. Or write in a journal. Or just go to a place I might have gone when baby was ready for parks or picnics.
Send notes to all the mothers I know, regardless of their baby status — to let them know I remember who THEY are.
What I would not have done.
I wouldn’t have made reservations at some restaurant where my lack of a high chair might make the waiters ignore my status.
I wouldn’t have gone to church. It’s painful when they have the children come up and take things to their moms or give them a hug. It’s hurtful when they ask the moms to stand, and you don’t know whether to do it or not (and for the women who are infertile or single and older but wanted children–I mean, come on. Let’s stop this.)
I wouldn’t have been silent. I know not everyone is willing to put themselves out there. I wasn’t either, at first. But now, you can be for darn sure I’d be sending out e-cards and posting graphics like these to my page. I’m a mother and I won’t let anyone forget it.
As you go through this day, silently and at home, or publicly and with a mission to help others learn how best to be around other baby loss moms, remember the most important thing:
A mother isn’t counted by the number of diapers she has changed, the car seats in her mini van, or the crayoned pictures on her fridge.
It’s counted by the memories in her heart, the love she carries, and the protection that surged inside her from the first moment that she learned a new life had begun within her.
Comment on this post to win a copy of In the Company of Angels: A Memorial Book on Mother’s Day (US holiday, May 13.)
This book is designed just like a traditional baby book, but it is meant for our babies who did not live to be born, or who died very shortly after birth. Unlike the traditional baby milestones we will never see, this book has gentle prompts asking about our hopes and dreams for baby, the moment you found out you were pregnant, and the days you were carrying the baby. It also has a section for the sadder moments, when you found out the baby was lost, and places for memorials and anniversaries.
The book is especially designed so that if you do not have sonograms or pictures, you can tug those pages out, so no page in your baby’s book is blank.
I know this week is bittersweet for many of us. You’re here because at least one of your sweet babies didn’t make it into your arms.
Mother’s Day is forever a mixed blessing for me. My first one, just two weeks after losing Casey at 20 weeks gestation, was so terrible I have blotted it from my memory. And even now, 14 years later, I still feel the pull of emotions in both directions as I think of the babies I lost (Casey, Daniel, Emma) and the ones that I got to keep (Emily, Elizabeth), and now, the one we’re trying for (our friends call him Thor even though he doesn’t exist yet…)
I want each of you to remember that whether that baby is in your belly, in your arms, or in the sky—you’re still a mother. It doesn’t matter who recognizes it or who doesn’t—your baby most certainly does.
I’m kicking off a week of give aways! You can comment here or on the Facebook page for chances to win! Feel free to comment both places—I’ll be giving away items both here and at A Place for Our Angels.
The first give away is a new book of poetry about infertility, pregnancy, and loss that came out just a few weeks ago by Nicole Breit, called “I Can Make Life.” This collection was a finalist in the Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize this year.
Check it out below, or if that’s too small on your browser, click through to check it out bigger here!
All the mothers who win any of the give aways over the next few days will be notified on Mother’s Day this Sunday (if I remember! If not, on Monday.)
UPDATE: The three Olsen angels won the movie credit!
Over at A Place for Our Angels: Memorials for Miscarriage and Stillbirth Babies, we’re having a HUGE Mother’s Day contest. We’ve already given away several books to moms on the page.
At midnight on Friday, May 13, we’ll be giving away something extra special. We’ll donate $100 to the movie Peekaboo in your baby’s honor to get the baby’s name in the Thank You credits. You will also get a DVD copy of the movie when it comes out.
Peekaboo is a movie about a mother who loses her stillborn triplets. Read more about them in the post below.
To enter the contest, go to A Place for Our Angels and post a PICTURE of anything that reminds you of your baby (bear, jewelry, sonogram, photographs) between now and 10 P.M. Central Time on Sunday. Don’t forget to tell us his or her name!
Find a picture and click on the image below to go!
And bloggers, feel free to post them in your own blog posts to help them spread. They are free to use for personal use.
Even if you aren’t close to some of your Facebook friends, take note if you saw things happening to them this year. Do something. Remember. Reach out. It’s amazing what a difference such a simple thing can make.
At this site you will find information and a place to come in your dark and frightened hours. The special features of the site are listed in the next column, as well as topics ranging from causes of miscarriage, to prevention, to when to try again for a new pregnancy.
The only person who can really tell you what is happening to you is your own doctor, who peers into you with a light and a speculum, who samples your blood or urine, or who presses a sonogram paddle into your belly. If you are in trouble, bleeding, scared, or more depressed than you think you can handle on your own, you must find help. Read and research all you can, but remember that the one-on-one assistance of a real doctor is the only thing that will give you answers that count. If you don't like or trust your doctor, then find one you can.