Wednesday, May 02, 2012

On love and loss - my four children

I am the mother of 4 children.  You may not know that.  You may only see the two I get the privilege of raising, but my love for each of them is no less.  Our second and fourth children were too small to know their gender, but we have decided that they are a boy (the 2nd) and a girl (the 4th).  It helps me think of them and love them and I even have potential names chosen that I kind of call them in my head when I think of them.  It is real to me, my love for them.  And yet, it is a secret.

Part of motherhood is sometimes the loss of a child.  When that baby or child is big enough to have a funeral and be mourned, there is a validation to the sadness.  A place to give it focus and hone the emotions into words, tears, recognition of a life, and to receive comfort from a community.  But when the baby is unborn and so small that they never passed the cellular level, the loss of them is faceless and formless.  There is no focus for the grief.  And so it gets set aside.  "You can try again.", some well meaning person says and while it is true, there will never be another baby just like the baby I lost.  Even naming them is complicated.  I have these few names that I love.  Names that I would like to say out loud to my son or daughter for the rest of their lives.  And should we have another child I may want to give them this name.  So I hold back from giving a true and final name to my lost children.  And they remain nameless, faceless, formless and lost.

The first time I lost a baby, Valentines Day 2010, it seemed I was welcomed into a quiet and yet disconnected group of women who had also lost a baby.  A club that no one wanted to be a part of and so kept secret.  The other members were not known, but there we all were, unwilling initiates whose grief had been the dues we paid.  I would say I had miscarried and a friend would gently say, "Me too."  Friends that I had know for years or family members and I would sit there in quiet anguish that I had not been able to help them through that sorrow and could not now, lost as I was in my own. 

This time, Valentines Day 2012, I lost my girl and immediately reached for help.  I knew I would need it.  I knew I was lost without other moms and friends to come around me and love me and my family.  I needed help to sort through the heap of baby girl clothes I had been saving, I just couldn't face them, so I sent out the call for help.  What I got in response (in addition to help) was emails from mamas who had also lost a baby, but didn't feel like they could talk about it at our MOMS Club events with all of the pregnant mothers around.  It's too painful or too awkward or would worry the pregnant mothers and I remembered that the silence is the pain. 

So for all of you mamas out there who have lost a baby, this is for you.  Your children are not forgotten.  You can talk about them any time.  Don't worry about the awkward silence from those who don't understand.  I pray they never do.  Know that there are others who do understand, but might not be able to talk about it yet and in their silence lives the pain.  Motherhood does not always equal a baby to hold, but it always means that my love has multiplied and gone out to another in a way I could have never imagined.  And talking about my lost children helps my heart to heal a bit more.  I hope yours will too.


Kendra & Tobin Kirk said...

Thanks for your post! I always say that I am a mom to 3, a parent to 1. I know my loss was different than your loss(es) and I can never fully understand what you have been through but we are all moms...I read in a book once that the greatest loss is your loss and it's so true!

Erin M said...

What a sweet and profound post. Just beautiful. I love you mama.

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