Mother’s Day has been an emotional day for me for a number of years. It’s one of those days, like so many holidays, that can bring up a lot of hurt when you’re on the outside looking in. When you are a mother without her children here on earth or are struggling with infertility, it can be such a painful, hard day.
For years I tried to handle this day not by ignoring it altogether, but by focusing on celebrating my own amazing mom and the special women in my life. I made sure that I was surrounded by my family on that day every year, as often as possible. We were almost never home on Mother’s Day, choosing instead to spend it with my family or my in-laws so that my mind wouldn’t be on all that I’d lost.
We announced our first pregnancy to my mom on Mother’s Day nine years ago. I was so full of joy and excitement on that day, and boy was I naïve, too. Miscarriage was nowhere on my radar. I knew some women who had been through it, including my own mother. My mom lost the baby she was carrying after she had me, and she has always talked with us about that loss. She wanted that baby and was very sad when her pregnancy ended too soon. I know she still thinks about him or her more than thirty years later, wondering what might have been. I sometimes wondered what it would have been like to have a younger sibling close to my age, but I really never thought about miscarriage happening to me. I certainly never ever imagined that it would happen to me six times, and that my body would fail to support a pregnancy over and over again.
My husband and I were talking this week about how having Lily has changed things for us. She has changed everything, but perhaps not only in the most obvious ways. I told him how this Mother’s Day feels so different. In the past, I missed the babies that we lost so much. It’s a different kind of missing, though – not the kind where you miss someone you once knew and have a memory of their face or their laugh or something you did or shared together. I missed them in the sense of feeling an absence. My life was missing them, or to be more clear, they were missing from my life, and in their place was a huge, empty hole. Lily hasn’t taken their place, but she has filled that hole in my heart and fulfilled the desire that I had to have a child and be a mother.
In a way that I didn’t expect, though, she makes me miss the babies I miscarried from a whole new perspective. Now that I have Lily, it makes me realize much more clearly what was lost. We didn’t just lose six fuzzy images on an ultrasound screen. We lost our children, each one unique and special and loved. Now that I’ve seen Lily’s round, rosy cheeks, looked into her dark eyes, and heard her squeal with laughter; now that I’ve rocked her to sleep every single day for seven and a half months, I realize more than ever before that I will always miss the babies that we didn’t get to keep with us. She makes me understand how much I did love them and how much more I could have loved them every day. As long as I’m here and they are not, they will be missing from my life. And as long as I go on missing them, I will all the more appreciate the miracle that I’ve been given.
My perspective is very different this year for Mother’s Day. I suspected it would be so, but some of the feelings have surprised me. Most of all, of course, I feel full and happy and grateful. I don’t feel that emptiness anymore. I’m profoundly thankful and humbled that I have someone here who calls me “Mommy.” Well, she can’t talk just yet, but there’s a sweet baby girl whose face lights up when I enter the room and who thinks I’m the funniest person in the whole world (even funnier than Daddy!), and I can’t believe I get to be her mother.
Flowers, cards, and gifts are all lovely things, but I have my gift already. It’s so much more than I ever dreamed, and it’s more than enough.
As always… praying for those of you who are waiting, especially on this day.