My husband and I went through the loss (miscarriage) of our first baby at just five weeks. Afterwards, I knew I was different.
Research shows that pregnancy changes a woman’s brain. My desire to nurture was intensified. My longing to have a baby increased exponentially. I felt I looked at children differently. Still – I didn’t really “feel” like a mother. So when the first Mother’s Day rolled around after our loss, I was thinking more about my own sweet mom than my situation.
We happened to be away from home that first Mother’s Day. My husband and I traveled up to Washington state to visit his family and attend the wedding of a friend. We were at the reception, and I got up to get something. On my way back my sister-in-law caught up with me. “Laura,” she said, “I know something about you.” That’s it. That’s all it took. Cue the tears.
We hadn’t talked much with my husband’s family about the miscarriage, aside from calling my husband’s parents the night it happened, but I knew they had shared the news with my husband’s siblings. My sister-in-law reached for my hand. “I want you to know,” she continued, “that when you become a parent, it changes you, no matter the age of the baby.” I remembered then that she, too, had experienced the loss of her first baby. I looked over to where her husband and two beautiful girls, aged 4 and 2, were sitting talking happily. “I would have had a seven-year-old,” she said, and there were tears on her face, too. I would have been almost to my due date, I thought, ready to give birth.
We just stood there holding each other’s hands and weeping together for a moment. It did my heart so much good. We had been well cared for by both of our families as well as our pastor and his wife; but though we had no lack of love and support, there was something about sharing sorrow with someone who truly understood that undid me emotionally. It was also her kind words and letting me know that I wasn’t forgotten which helped my heart to heal.
I have never forgotten that conversation, or the particular poignance with which it hit me. I did not know it then, but I would go through another loss and experience two more painful Mother’s Days before we welcomed our miracle baby into the world; and Mother’s Day still brings along a lot of mixed emotions for me. I am so thankful for my wonderful mother and mother-in-law. I am so grateful that I get to be a parent to a living child. But I will always remember the two babies who made me “mother” first.
If you are someone who is going through a season of sorrow this Mother’s Day–perhaps you have endured loss, are wrestling with infertility, or for some other reason feel sad and invisible on a day when so many around you are joyful and celebrating–I hope there is someone in your life today who can show you kindness and share your sorrow. But even if there isn’t, I want you to know, I see you. I understand. And you are not alone.
Originally published May 2018.