Monday, August 5, 2013


"Motherhood is a state of both the mind and the heart, a sacred place that is yours no matter the distance between you and your child. Not even death can take it away." ~ Dr. Joanne Cacciatore

I live in a large apartment complex, so frequently share the elevator with neighbors from my building.  Recently, I shared the elevator with a little girl, who looked about 2 years old, and her mom.  At one point during the elevator ride from the comfort of her stroller, the little girl looked at me, pointed up at her mom and proudly announced "my mommy".  She then looked around, saw that I was the only other person in the elevator, pointed at me with a bit of confusion and asked "someone else's mommy?" several times, while curiously looking back and forth between her mom and me.  I couldn't quite make out what she was saying at first, but after the second or third time of her repeating the question, I caught on.  I can only imagine how my expression changed, from a friendly smile into a face of stone, likely.  The mom laughed nervously and I just stood there, speechless.  It felt like I was punched in the gut.  How I wished I was someone else's mommy.

Back in June, after I first told my BFF about our miscarriage, she sent me a message encouraging me to take whatever time I needed to grieve and to not let anyone tell me that I don't have a right to mourn my lost baby.  She went on to tell me that "I am a mommy now and no one can take that away".  I remember feeling so stunned upon receiving that part of her message.  Up until that point, I hadn't thought of myself as a mommy.  In fact, part of why I was so angry and scared is that I thought I might never have the chance to be a mommy.  But after thinking about it, I realized that I was a mommy... a mommy without a baby.  At the time, I didn't realize that it was okay to feel that way.  I'd never held my baby -- I'd never even seen him or her except for the shadow on the screen during my first ultrasound.  I hadn't even heard his or her heart beat, though the sonogram tech did.  Medically speaking I didn't even know if I technically ever had a baby; I knew I had an embryo and possibly a fetus {depending on various opinions of when the embryo becomes a fetus}, but could I legitimately say I carried a baby?

It was only after discussing with other women who had been through similar losses that I felt comfortable thinking of myself as a mother without a child.  That phrase sounds like an oxymoron, but in fact it perfectly describes how I feel.  Before my pregnancy and before my loss, I hadn't spent a lot of time thinking about miscarriage.  Of course I knew people who'd experienced miscarriages, but I never stopped to think about how truly horrible such a loss would feel.  I am ashamed to admit this, but I guess I always assumed that miscarriages that occurred in the first few months wouldn't be that  hard or that  traumatic.  I always knew it would be sad, but didn't know it would be life-changing.  I didn't know how utterly in love you could fall for someone so tiny, so fast.  Logically, how could the loss of a 10.5 week old fetus hit me as hard as the death of my 91 year old grandfather, whom I loved for literally my entire life?  I guess I used to assume that since you didn't "meet" the baby before an early miscarriage that it wouldn't be as devastating.  But it was.  It truly was.

Coming to the realization that I am a childless mother in a way helped me admit to my feelings instead of trying to deny or rationalize them away, even if only to myself.  Only then did I feel like I could openly and honestly begin to grieve for my lost baby.  A baby I never did, nor will I ever, have the chance to meet has changed me forever.  In that brief period of 10 weeks and 5 days, I became a mother.  And now, a part of my heart will always belong to my first unborn child.

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