To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you
To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you
To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you
To those who experienced loss this year through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you
To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.
To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you
To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you
To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you
To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you
To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience
To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst
To those who have aborted children, we remember them and you on this day
To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children, we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be
To those who step-parent, we walk with you on these complex paths
To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren, yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you
To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you
And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you
This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.
This weekend is Mother’s Day. It is a day honoring some of the most important women in our lives, letting them know our appreciation for their everyday job. It can also be a day filled with grief. Today’s blog is about celebrating mothers of all kinds; mothers who have children to celebrate with them, ones who lost children and some who only dream for children. Before my own mother passed, I loved this holiday because my mom was my best friend. Who doesn’t like honoring and doing something special for their best friend? She was the most important person in my life and has made me who I am today. This weekend is my 7th Mother’s Day without her. It is an extremely hard day for me and my siblings. Just like her birthday and anniversary of her death, it is a constant reminder that she is no longer with us. I’ve met several people who have lost their mother and have expressed the same emotions regarding Mother’s Day. Today is a day of grief for those children who lost mothers.
I try not to focus on the sadness; but to focus on all the wonderful women in my life who have made an impact in my life after my mom’s death. These women include my grandmother, several aunts and my mother-in-law. These women have taken me under their wing and taken care of me. They always reassure me no one will ever replace her. This Mother’s Day is very different for me however, because this is my first Mother’s Day as a mom. I have mixed emotions because I am trying to celebrate every day I have with my daughter, though I know there is a very good possibility I will not spend Mother’s Day with her next year. I want to do what every mom-to-be would be doing; registering for baby things, setting up a nursery, buying cute onesies, etc. I am putting this on hold because the one thing I’m sure of, surgeries or not, Cora will not come home with us from the hospital for a long time, if at all. I am in a unique situation because of the information I have about Cora’s future and the uncertainty that hangs over it. Because of this, I want to shed a light on some other “unique situations” that are usually not recognized on this holiday. I want to learn how to be a light to the women who have encountered heartbreak while trying to conceive/adopt. People treat mothers with such reverent honor, that some women who have had trouble conceiving or lost babies might feel lost or irreverent on Mother’s Day.
This post is not meant to offend any of the mothers I know. I just want to highlight the other side to this weekend and how we can help our sisters heal. Our society, and Christian society in particular, puts a huge emphasis on motherhood. God’s design and purpose for marriage is the blessing of children. Infertility and childlessness are along the same position as widows and orphans in Biblical times. I think this is more a societal problem than a Godly problem. God doesn’t consider infertility or childlessness as a curse. When couples try to have children and cannot, then the biblical call to trust God means following His leading. It may mean pursuing medical treatment. Or building your family through adoption. Or choosing to live without children to serve the Church. Childlessness can be the doorway to great spiritual fruitfulness of a different kind. For me, I’ve found that this increases my faith in Jesus alone, to bless me in whatever way He deems for His kingdom. As women, we should stop trying to define ourselves by our roles, such as mother, daughter, sister, etc and start defining ourselves in God’s image of us. He envisions us as daughters, precious to His kingdom.
Personally, children have been a huge part of my family planning before I even met Josh. I chose the career I did because of the hours and the flexibility for family life. I think because of societal pressure coupled with the pressure I put upon myself, not being a mother at all would be devastating for me. During a radical series at our church, “All-In”, Pastor JD Greear told us to think about the most important people/goals in your life. Now imagine we lost the person/dream (essentially: how much are we placing happiness on other things/people outside of Christ). During this series, Josh asked me if I would be ok without having any children in my lifetime; was I making having children an idol? I can’t speak for most women, but I have this innate drive and passion to have kids of my own/adopt children. I absolutely love caring for others’ kids but it’s just not the same as having your own. I had to tell myself last year that I may not be able to have or adopt children in this life. If I am making family an idol, God definitely has the right not to bless me with this particular desire. Why would He encourage my idolatry? Making children an idol, I am putting this need for children ahead of my contentment in Jesus. When we started trying to get pregnant, I prepared my heart subconsciously for what I feared most. This was just a couple of months before I got pregnant with Cora.
Miscarriages occur in 20% of all pregnancies. Many women hide their miscarriages from everyone. Miscarriages and stillbirths happen more often than people realize. Honestly, I have not put myself in these women’s shoes until recently. 4 years as a ultrasound tech later, I am more aware of the multitude of women going through miscarriages, difficult pregnancies and infertility. I have scanned several patients facing miscarriage; some who keep trying even though they’ve had 10 miscarriages in their prime “childbearing” age. I have witnessed a few women have “uncomplicated” pregnancies until the last month and then have a fetal demise (loss in the 3rd trimester) or stillbirth for an unknown reason(s). I have seen women, younger than 30, get that chromosome test back unexpectedly confirming Down’s Syndrome, Trisomy 18, or other issues that are usually reserved for women in their later years of fertility. I believe these women can feel left out during the celebration. A result of my knowledge of pregnancy complications, getting pregnant was scary to both Josh and I. I see the worst of the worst at my clinic, abnormalities most people see once in a lifetime. Because of this blog, I have had several women confide in me their own experiences with miscarriages or complications. Some of these women were friends and I had no idea of their pain. It’s so important to remember that you are not alone. God gave us the church and shared experiences to share one each other’s burdens. This is the reason I will never ask a pregnant stranger about their pregnancy unless they bring it up, because you just never know what that person is going through. Some women told me they thought they were alone in their grief when this happened to them, but you’re not alone. Our adversary would have us believe that we’re alone, lost in our grief, but God has given a different message.
Unfortunately, I think this is where the church, too often, fails these women. Churches should recognize there are women who are going through these experiences and have support in place for these women. I think it’d incredibly beneficial for pastors and the church to have special events, speakers, sermons that touch on this issue. Some churches recognize mothers by having them stand in their seats or pass out flowers/corsages. What does it say to those women who have experienced loss? Do they stand? What recognition for your struggle is there, when you’ve told no one. It’s very hard to get away from this commercialism of Mother’s Day, even in church. The church body should recognize this and at least say something briefly on the subject of loss. The women reading this blog, need to stop shying away from awkward conversations and simply be there for these women. Some of the women don’t even know how to grieve their loss. They may not have known the gender of their baby at the time of loss. There might not be a name or any momento from the birth. Then, Mother’s Day rolls around and no one says anything to them, including me. I don’t say “I’m thinking about you today” or give a hug of reassurance. In my experience with this pregnancy with Cora and my mom’s passing, I believe not saying anything at all to acknowledge a loss is worse than saying something that might sound stupid. Not recognizing a loss of a child is can tell that mother that no one cares or remembers. I don’t want Mother’s Day to pass again without acknowledging these special lives. Because of Cora, I want to make a conscious effort on Mother’s day to recognize the women I know who have experienced loss of a child or the loss of the promise of a child due to infertility. I can’t even imagine how it must feel to pick up the pregnancy test, time and time again, and watch it come out negative. Wanting something so much, it is literally painful trying to conceive. Some of my patients get that joy taken from them in pregnancy after pregnancy. They know what the heart beat and fetal pole are supposed to look like on ultrasound, because they have had so many and they can tell me when the heart’s not beating before I can mention it. I usually just respond with a lame “I’m so sorry.” As a friend or family member, a simple card, a facebook message, a phone call, can do so much to help someone get through the unknown. A prayer, selfless and heart felt, can tap into a grace filled God and renew the spirit of one suffering.
For me personally, I want this Mother’s Day to be one of celebration. Cora is alive and moving like crazy. I want to always remember this Mother’s Day. I am a mom for the first time ever. Next year will be a totally different story. For this weekend, I am celebrating the fact I am and always will be Cora’s mom. I may never see her grow up into a woman, but she has taught Josh and I and so many others so much already and I am so honored to carry her.
I want to share some of the inspiration for this blog I got from articles I researched on the subject. This is a blog post from a women who experienced her first Mother’s Day after a loss of a child: http://desiringvirtue.com/2012/05/when-mothers-day-is-painful/. This next article is written on the church’s treatment of Mother’s Day and the wide range of mothers we should celebrate (http://www.messymiddle.com/2012/05/10/an-open-letter-to-pastors-a-non-mom-speaks-about-mothers-day/). The excerpt at the beginning of the post is from this article.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15
In addition to celebrating the amazing little girl and being a mom myself, I celebrate the one to whom I owe my love of children: my mom. No one will ever replace her. Everything I want to be as a mother, I learned from her.