Awkward is not usually used to describe Mother’s Day, but it describes mine perfectly.
On November 16, 2012 at 12:16 am, I gave birth to my first child, my daughter, Saralynn.
She was perfect: 7 lbs. 12 oz., full head of brown hair, arrived on her due date and is just the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
There was not a dry eye in the room when Saralynn entered this world and I admire my husband for cutting the cord. Our lives were changed forever.
But we didn’t get to hear Saralynn’s first cry. We will never fight over whose turn it is to changer her diaper. We will never watch her get on the school bus for her first day of school or see her walk down the aisle at her wedding.
Saralynn was stillborn.
The day before I had noticed that her movements had slowed significantly. Everything you read online and people you talk to just say that the baby is moving down getting ready to make her entrance and not to worry.
I’m a worrier.
I laid down to do a kick count and did not feel a thing. Since Saralynn was very active the day before, I called my OB and he instructed me to go to the hospital. My Grandmother and I arrived before my husband did and the nurses immediately started hooking me up to different monitors.
As soon as my OB arrived, he started scanning me with the ultrasound machine and there it was.
Nothing. No heartbeat.
As soon as he spoke the words, “there is no more heartbeat” my husband came in the room. The look on my face must have said it all to him. The OB tried to introduce himself to my husband, but he pushed right past him to get to me.
In those 5 devastating words, we became parents to an angel.
On November 21st, our families came together to celebrate the short life of a little girlwho has touched more people in unspeakable ways than those who live out their entire life.
Fast forward to today and our lives are the same as they were last year, just with a big hole that is always present. A piece of our hearts is forever gone.
Still there are words that echo in my head that were spoken to me shortly after we lost Saralynn-
“Don’t worry. One day you’ll join the club.”
They were said with good intentions and did not bother me at the time.
Now, they bother me.
I am a mother.
I became a mother that fateful Saturday in March when I went to Walgreens and bought a bag of dark chocolate M&Ms and a pregnancy test.
I became a mother when I took the best care of my unborn child that I could so she could start her life as healthy as possible. I went through labor and delivery just like every other woman does.
I have a baby.
She was real. We held her, took pictures, and admired how adorable her little hands and feet were.
I am a mother.
Yet to those who do not know me, do not know the tragedy that I deal with on a daily basis, I am childless. I have it easy. I don’t have to wake up multiple times at night for feedings. I don’t have to clean poop off the walls from a diaper blowout. Raising a child is hard and I should enjoy my freedom.
Having to bury your child isn’t exactly a cakewalk either.
We actually had her cremated. One, so she can be with the rest of the family in Wisconsin when we feel the time is right. Two, we’re military! We PCS and I am not going to leave my child in some place that we just happened to live at that specific point in time.
I have come to the conclusion that there are 2 clubs when it comes to being a mother. There’s the “I had a baby” club and the “I actually had the opportunity to raise my child” club.
What hurts the most is that it is other mothers who make this distinction. Because I do not have a live child to parade around, I am limited to the first club. I am Saralynn’s mom, but not actually a mom according to them. Do moms who lose their child due to SIDS, accident, or disease suddenly stop earning the title “Mom?” No.
Even the military acknowledges the existence and loss of my daughter. The service member’s SGLI covers stillborns when it comes to the loss of a dependent child.
So this Mother’s Day, my first Mother’s Day, will I count to others? There is no handbook to instruct me, my friends, my family, or strangers on how to handle a Mother’s Day when it comes to someone who lost a child so early on. I won’t take offense if I don’t receive cards or text. My family celebrates Saralynn and that’s what is really important. If I receive cards or a text, I will be flattered and honored that I crossed someone’s thoughts. I will celebrate in my own quiet way as I reflect on becoming a mother to an angel.
Just don’t say I’m not a mother.
There is no denying that I am Saralynn’s mother and she is my daughter. Yet there seems to be some sort of disconnect when it comes to classifying me as a mother by others.
I know who I am. I am a mother. No one can take that away from me with their words or their actions – even inaction for that matter.
With stillbirths occurring about 1 every 166 pregnancies, the odds are someone reading this has an angel baby. This Mother’s Day, celebrate you.
Mother’s Day is meant to celebrate all mothers, with children living or deceased, biological or not.
Happy Mother’s Day.