I found myself using the analogy of a magnifying glass this week to try and help a friend see how Mother’s day felt for me since losing our daughter Poppy at term in 2014. I used to think as each date passed that it would feel like an accomplishment, that it would suddenly enable me to more easily face the next one, and one after that, and so on. But instead I find that the passage of time just magnifies the loss more and brings home to me the ripples of our loss for the remainder of our lives.
It is always the time of year where I am constantly reminded by other’s to “look at how blessed I am with my other children”, to which I want to just scream! Such a comment implies that because I grieve for my 3rd child on such occasions (and every day) that I am somewhow ungrateful for my living children? It’s such a ridiculous thing to say! It’s as if Ethan, Megan and Alice make up for the fact Poppy died… or that my love for Poppy isn’t valid and would be best shared amongst each of my living kids instead!!
The truth is that yes I am a mother to 3 living kids – I know that, because it is my life! I birthed them, adore them, and I am a stay at home mum to them. Each of my children is unique and special just as every child in the world is. But neither can replace or make up for the other because they are individuals, each with their own unique character and interests, each with their own place in my heart and in our family. And so Mother’s day isn’t a failure to see what is right in front of me, it is rather a magnification of what I have and have also lost.
This day, just as Poppy’s birthday and other significant dates, are bitter-sweet, and will forever be hard for me – not because I don’t see what I have, but because that doesn’t make up for what I have lost.
Mother’s day brings lovely moments where I sit sleepy eyed on the bed with my now 3 tiny gorgeous faces glaring at me in sheer delight. Handmade gifts, cards, flowers, chocolate and pictures; all eagerly handed over and each one excited to see my joy for all they have given me. I am showered in loved, but I am fighting and battling with the soul wrenching pain that another year has passed without knowing, raising and holding one of my precious little babies. I miss the cards from her, the pictures she might have drawn, the scribble of her 3.5 year old signature!
In short Mother’s day magnifies our blessings. But it equally magnifies our loss, and that is something no-one should be shamed over!
Mother’s day is a great day to stand up and be proud that I am a mother! To relish in my motherhood and feel so immensely proud that I have 4 beautiful children. I am 33 and I have 4 kids – it’s nuts, but its brilliant too.
I love that Mother’s day is a great time to reflect on the excitement and anticipation we felt leading up to their arrival – the days we decided it was time to grow our family and how each one is such a lovely blessing in our lives. I love that I am their mother, and I love that I know them. I am forever changed for the better because of that. And so I love that on this day, out of all of the others, we get to be high-fived for our efforts and made to feel so special!
I love to think of how blessed we are with our own mothers and grandmothers and the amazingly strong women in generations before that too (that somehow impact me now as a mother), and I love to think of their sacrifices and examples to me of faith, courage, and strength.
Being able to be a mother, and know such great mothers is such a wonderful blessing in life, and I love how this day enlarges that reality and blessing. I love how I have time to be grateful in the fact that raising my kids, whilst challenging, is also a lot of fun!
Mother’s day is certainly a day to magnify our blessings and feel proud in what we do!
But I am also a mother to a child that isn’t alive and that concept is something I can never get used to. I miss her everyday, and whilst some of those days are more gentle and I am able to function and feel great happiness and sunshine, on other days the storms rage and I can’t see for the fog!
I always find that Mothers day rolls around and magnifies these foggy feelings and our loss – It’s approach brings a lot of anxiety and sadness, and I find as it is a day that celebrates Mothers and Motherhood, what is to celebrate when the child isn’t here? When the world only chooses to see who is here and now, and not who has died and is missing from all of these moments, I find myself closing up and wondering how I make my motherhood to her a tangible and living thing still.
In a nutshell Mother’s day magnifies my loss because it suddenly reminds me of my own motherhood, and my inability to mother my 3rd child because she has passed away. It’s a day where it suddenly feels more intense, and the hole in my heart feels wider and bigger, the gap in our family is enlarged, and as I see pictures of other mother’s, with all of their children and celebrating their day, and my smiles are turned to stinging tears because my loss suddenly feels so huge and obvious again.
I become frustrated that I haven’t got those pictures of me grinning with my 4 beautiful kids, and I never will.
I haven’t nursed her, taught her, played with her or had the adventures and snuggles like I have with her siblings. I left the hospital that Sunday night numb and heartbroken that she had gone before we could meet her, and I left that same hospital on her birthday empty handed and never to be the same again! I have carried that pain ever since, and no matter what I do it’s always there hovering beneath the surface.
And so now I look at Mother’s day, and whilst my blessings of 4 wonderful children are very apparent, and my love for them and hard work is acknowledged, I sit and wonder how the heck do I validate myself as her Mother when she isn’t here and few people even knew of her?
I want more than anything on these days for everyone to know I have had 4 kids, and that my amazing body made, carried and birthed each of my precious babies. I want them to see and know that even though there seems to be 3, there are in fact 4. But somehow stillbirth still creates an awkward barrier to that truth, and I back away and feel like I am weird or something. That feeling then feels like a scream that I want to shout out and tell the world that I am a mother to 4, proud of each one. I want to shout out and say that whilst I grieve I am strong, because life is incredibly hard to live without one of your kids. And yes, even though the others make it a happy and fun journey, full of wonderful and blessed moments – it is hard to have number 3 missing from them. And it’s hard to always fight for them all to be remembered, and for me to be validated as a mother of 4!
So how do I feel about my 4th Mother’s day after loss? Well I welcome the day to feel treasured by my little family, and look upon my blessing to hold the title of “Mother”, but I also dread the day because it hurts and enlarges all I have lost in our precious Poppy – another reminder of the ripples of loss!
There are mother’s all over the world that will be reading this and know exactly what I am saying. But there are also the mothers who unlike me, don’t have other kids to celebrate their motherhood with on this day. They don’t have the “other kids” to bring smiles and soften the blow of a painful reminder of loss. These Mothers need the acknowledgement more than ever – the chocolate, the flowers, the “thinking of you” momentos to say “YOU ARE A MOTHER TOO”!! But more so what they need, and what we all need, is some acknowledgement – Acknowledgement of our missing child. It is one of the greatest gifts one can receive and they need that often because they are mothers, and their children are real. They now have so much love and longing that can never leave, and it will always hurt. Yet despite that, they/we are still standing strong and surviving every single day without our beautiful babies here!
So “HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY” to all of you Mothers – may the day be gentle and kind!