Don’t Tell Me I’m Not a Mom

Saralynn 27
Our little angel wrapped in our arms.

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.

41 COMMENTS

  1. Happy Mother’s Day, Kara! You are a mother, and you will always be a mother. Thank you for sharing your story. Saralynn was lucky to have such a caring mother, and you are lucky to have such a beautiful angel waiting for you in heaven.

    • Thank you so much! I can’t wait to be with her again.

  2. kaisalina@Yahoo.com

    Brought tears to my eyes. You are a mother Kara and hate that some people dont agree. you are a wonderful person and mother, Saralynns prettt lucky to have u as her mother. Happy early mothers day Kara! thanks for sharing your story. Love ya.

  3. Dawnlynn O'Connor

    Kara, I am still at awe of your strong will! You too are strong, beautiful inside and out, and Saralynn should be so proud to call you MOMMY! HAPPY EARLY MOTHER’S DAY, and God Bless you and your Precious Angel, Saralynn! Love you and Miss you!

  4. Feliz Mother’s Day, Kara. I send my love and prayers to you and your family. Your story is powerful and I am happy you shared it. You are an awesome person. 🙂

  5. Happy Mothers Day, this was a beautiful post. While it doesn’t come nearly as close, I miscarried at 5 weeks this past month but while I was still pregnant I thought about how excited I was because I was going to be able to celebrate the day as a soon to be mom. Sending a big hug your way from a fellow Wisconsinite.

  6. Thank you so much everyone for the support and words of encouragement!
    Andrea, I’m sorry to hear about your loss. A loss at any point the during pregnancy is a loss and is devastating to those involved. Hugs are being sent your way.

  7. Happy Mother’s Day, Kara! Thanks for sharing your story! It conforted me! My babies are also with the Lord. Ethan, was the first one (10w) and later, Ian and Liam (29w+2d). Ian and Liam were called about three weeks ago to be with our Lord. During this time I’ve heard many well intention comments about being a mom again. We are moms no matter what other people think about it! We are moms since the very moment God allowed us to become pregnant! So thanks again for sharing! <3

  8. Happy Mothers Day. From another military spouse of a full term stillborn, I know what you mean. I was glad to see the VA come around and pay the SGLI now, they past it just 6 weeks too late for us. We will always be Moms as our little girls watch over us. My daughter will have been 5 in August and though it still hurts, it does hurt a little less.

  9. Happy Mother’s Day!!! Stay strong! It’s a difficult path but I’m convinced that all our sweet angels are playing in heaven. My little baby girl, Peighton passed early last year. We are proud mothers.

  10. I have two babies in heaven as well and I still count them among my children. I was pregnant with twins and lost them around 11 weeks. My husband and I have since had 3 more but they all know about our twins in heaven. May God bless and have a Happy Mother’s Day!!!

  11. Happy Mother’s Day, kara. You are absolutely a mother to Saralynn and always will be. Even when you have another child you’ll have your second child, not your first. I have three children, ages 15, 8, and 2.5. My little one, though, walks with angels, not with me…he was stillborn November 18, 2010. I am as much his mother as I am to the other two … and to the one growing and due in just a few weeks. Don’t let anyone take from you that glory of the day you found out Saralynn was growing and the 9 months you exclusively were blessed to know her so intimately. Celebrate you and Saralynn this Sunday – and everyday. Much love from one mommy to another.

  12. It’s so comforting to know that there are so many other Angel Moms out there! I wish you all a Happy Mothers Day and much love!

  13. I can’t say I didn’t tear up because I did. I’ve gotten the opportunity to know you and the beautiful, caring person you are. Hugs to you Kara and yes Happy Mother’s Day to you and others who like you so beautifully put it are Angel Moms. Thanks for writing about it as it is something not talked about enough.

  14. Not only are you a Mother but you are stronger than most other Mothers. Any Mother that has to hold a funeral for a child experiences one of the greatest pains in life. Just before Mothers Day 2007 was when I found out I was pregnant for the first time; that sweet baby became my angel 9 months later. Every other Mothers Day after that I have announced the rest of my pregnancies. God is so good! I pray for you and wish you a very Happy Mothers Day!

  15. Happy Mother’s Day to all! I believe the number one culprit is misunderstanding when it comes to non-angel parents. When it comes to people we don’t know, didn’t meet until after our ANGELversaries, or don’t know our stories is that they don’t know we are mothers unless we have other children. I am so glad that you wrote this article as another way to get the word out that words can be hurtful but also for us mothers/fathers to Angels to get courage to speak up and say “Yes, I am a mother” every time it is warranted. Stand proud and yell from the roof tops and celebrate our children along with educating the world. ~Mom to Becky and Tori 12/23/04

  16. Happy Mothers Day Kara!! I also have an angel, her name is Oryan Elizabeth she was still born on October 3rd 2009, I was 36 weeks pregnant. Our stories are so similar. My heart goes out to you and your husband!! You are forever Saralynn’s mommy!

  17. Happy mothers day to you, a very strong, loving, caring, passionate mother! I an so sorry to you and your husband for your unfair loss

  18. You sure ARE a mother and a valiant one at that!! So glad that someone told you about the SGLI benefit…that slips through the cracks so often. Also, I have been told that military cemeteries will move graves if families PCS…people may want to look into it.

    You may want to amend your bio to explain what AFC and AFCPE stand for…I have no idea what you are speaking of.

    • That’s interesting that the military will move graves, certainly something to look into for others!

      AFC and AFCPE refers to Accredited Financial Counselor through the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education… nothing to do with this story obviously!

  19. I want to first say Happy Mothers Day to you. I am also a military wife who lost a son 12-24-07 who was born at 24 weeks and lived for 15 days. You are are very strong women for writing this and I look up to you. I am so sorry for your families loss and hope that you get to celebrate this Mothers Day for nobody can change the fact that you will always be Saralynn’s mother. My prayers go out to you. God bless you.

  20. Kara-
    Happy Mother’s Day. I along with many other mothers will celebrate you and Saralynn. Thank you for sharing her with us. There are too many distinctions,especially within the ranks of moms that while meant to be caring and helpful can be and often are extremely hurtful. It’s sad because as you so eloquently stated we are all mothers. YOU ARE a mom!

  21. Happy Mother’s Day Kara i Along With Many Other Mother’s Will Celebrate with you and Saralynn i have 3 beautiful angel’s that walk beside me here age’s 6 and 4 and 7 months and a beatiful 7 year old son who walks above me who i will see again one day his 7 month old sister was born 1.6lbs and was almost lost the same way we lost him so i guess that was my miracle i have prayed for and asked for so long to know he is ok her still being here

  22. You are completely and utterly a mother. As a mom to 4 babies who never lived outside the womb, 3 who lived but only briefly, 2 who are currently toddlers, and one who is currently kicking from the inside, I can tell you that you, 100%, are a mother. Happy Mother’s Day and may your life be full of peace.

  23. Happy Mother’s Day Kara. You are a mother and don’t let anyone tell you you’re not. You have a beautiful little girl watching over you. Sending hugs to you this Sunday, and to all the moms of angels. I know we will all be thinking of our beautiful babies and wishing they were here with us.

  24. Thank you for sharing your story! It was like I had written it about myself. I lost my daughter, Joy Annette, at 40 weeks and 3 days in Feb. and I am also a military wife. Happy Mother’s Day!

  25. Happy Mothers Day a few days early Kara! Although I do have 2 living daughters it does hurt when people act like I only have 2 children and not 4. My son was stillborn 2 days after he was due, a beautiful 9lb 9 oz perfect baby, Ryder Benjamin. He was born 4 days after my Birthday January 2012, 2 days before mothers day I found out I was pregnant again. That July I found out that I had miscarried at 13 weeks. That baby was a girl, Neveah Star. Yes people celebrate their lives, but they are really a “part” of the family to most people. I am very sorry for your loss of SaraLynn. Big Hugs.

  26. I’m not sure what kind of response I was expecting from writing about our experience with Saralynn but I am certainly appreciative and overwhelmed by all of the comments and stories! I only knew of one other person (a relative through marriage) who experienced a stillbirth and now that I have been through it I have had the chance to meet so many other families (unfortunately of course) who have experienced similar. We are not alone, that’s for sure. A Happy Mother’s Day to all of you strong women!

    • Please feel free to look me up on FB if anyone would like to connect & share experiences. Be sure to include a message so I know who is trying to get in touch with me otherwise I’ll ignore ya, lol.

  27. Happy Mothers Day! You are an amazing Mother and have such a big beautiful heart! I bet your beautiful daughter is looking down on you proud to call you her mother! To me you are a mother. You carried that beautiful Angel and you birthed her! Raising a child doesnt make you a mother. Love does! I almost lost my son at birth and I thank God hes here today. Even with him having some issues and being special needs, your story inspired me and I am looking at life a totally different way. I am thanking God everyday for what I have. Again, HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!!!!!

  28. I as well had a miscarriage at 10 weeks. Even though some dont consider it a loss to me that is a human life I carried and my baby Sam (for a boy or girl) is with God. I often think how life would be with Sam in it. But I look forward and Im happy with my boys and very blessed! Happy Mothers Day to all of you!

  29. Thank you for touching so many people. Thank you for your words and for showing others a look inside your heart. I am blessed to have two little girls and three little angels I never met. It’s amazing how words have the power to crush me or encourage me. It would be great if everyone out there could read this so they would know what to say to others with your story or others who are mothers without their little ones here with them. Again, thank you for putting yourself out there and sharing, I know it’s blessed many!

  30. I’m not a mom… but I lost my mom in a horrible way and it’s a hard day- in so many ways. Happy mothers day to you precious one. Thank you for carrying for the little life you were intrusted with and knowing that she was full of life the moment she was conceived. Thank you for letting her live in you. Thank you for letting God use that little one in your life as you now stand up for so many mommies out there that don’t have the courage to speak. Thank you for baring your soul so the world can see that words can hurt. Happy Mother’s Day Kara.

  31. […] friend posted a link this week to a blog titled Don’t Tell Me I’m Not A Mom. It was hard to read but it’s important to remember. The truths from her situation are […]

  32. This just happened to my daughter on May 24, 2013! It was also her first child and she was 40 weeks and 3 days. She had told the doctor on her appointment on tuesday that something didn’t feel quite right and they decided to induce her the next week. Two days later, Titus had passed away and life will never be the same for her again.
    I lost my first child to SIDS at 4 months and now she says we are bonded in a way that no one should have to be. I wish everyone the best of luck and after 32 years, we are now going through this again.

  33. I, as well, have not met you in person but do work with your loving mother. I have not first hand experienced the loss you speak of so tenderly, but many have. I do however know there is nothing new under the sun, according to the good book. I am one of those people that want to say comforting words without offending, but some people do not understand or accept my position. I do not utter it at times but only pray. I am comforted by knowing our heavenly Father is with us all. Although I have never walked in your shoes I literally picture blessings from above as Saralynn and others immediately fall into the Father’s arms and never have to experience this world we live in. God bless and keep all.

  34. I also had a baby his name was Nathan. He wasn’t still born I was blessed to have had 23 hours with him before he passed. I wish you a beautiful mothers day and pray one day your with your little angel again one day.

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