It's time for Mother's Day again, a day that is often so painful for those of us who live with infertility and/or pregnancy loss.
This year the holiday has found me in a different place. It is the halfway mark of this pregnancy, 20 weeks, and in more ways than one I feel halfway there. I still feel as though I have one foot in and one foot out.
This year I will be wished a "Happy Mother's Day" by people around me. Obviously I think that's a very sweet sentiment. I don't want to hold back my feelings of joy and celebration about this little miracle inside! I feel like I've been climbing a rocky, steep mountain for almost a decade. As anyone would do when they can finally see the summit, I feel the excitement of it and cannot wait to reach that point. A sweet friend who climbed her own mountain told me something wise that has stuck with me for a couple of years. She said that the longer we climb, the more our perspective changes as we work to get higher and higher. It's true. When I look around, I see things differently than I did 2 years ago, 4 years ago, 6 years ago. There are some who have to climb much higher than I will, and I'm sure the view will be different up there.
As excited as I am about being halfway through a pregnancy, a goal we feared we might never, ever reach, I can't forget that my path along the way is marked by six tiny crosses. Although our babies don't have actual graves here, we live with the memory of them as we move forward. This baby I'm carrying won't replace the ones we've lost. Of course we will welcome her with so much love and so much joy when she arrives, so much so that I can hardly imagine the complex emotions that I'll be feeling on that day, but we will always remember how much love and how many hopes each of those lives represented. We wanted all of those babies and we love each of them so deeply.
I guess what feels funny is that this year, at 20 weeks pregnant, people will observe me and declare me a mother. I haven't tucked my own children into bed at night or sent them off to school or cooked them a single meal... yet. I don't feel like more of a mother than I did on Mother's Day 8 years ago, the day we announced to my mother that we were having our first baby. That, to me, feels like a lifetime ago. I am so much closer to my dream of bringing home a baby, and that does mean so very much to me. But all these years I've felt like a mother without her children, the kind of mother who only gets recognized by those closest to me, those with particularly sensitive hearts and sympathies, and those who have walked this same lonely road.
I wish we lived in a world that recognized a 6-week pregnancy as just as real and just as loved and wanted as a 20-week pregnancy. It's so sad to me that so many women who have been through pregnancy loss are excluded from this day. And there are those who spend their days hoping and wishing for a pregnancy that hasn't happened yet. I believe that they are mothers, too. I've met a lot of people who haven't had children and yet have the heart of a mother. I wish Mother's Day could be a day where all of those beautiful women felt recognized and appreciated.
So, this year I feel halfway there. My heart is overwhelmed with joy at the idea of holding my precious baby! I still can't believe this is the year that it will happen.
My heart is also saddened because of the sweet babies we didn't hold.
And it's saddened because so many are still hurting and still waiting.
I want to acknowledge all of the mothers out there, whatever your story, and all of the amazing women who continue to climb mountains. Happy Mother's Day to YOU, sweet friends.