I Became A Mother, But Not the Way I Hoped
I reconnected with a friend from high school after we both miscarried our first pregnancies. We sent texts and cards to each other. Prayed for one another. Encouraged one another. One day, one day soon, we would both be mothers of living children.
And then, nine months after my miscarriage and fourteen months after her miscarriage, we were both pregnant again. What pure joy, we thought, to celebrate our rainbow babies together.
“I’m so sorry.”
That was the first thing the ultrasound technician said.
I was twenty-four weeks and six days pregnant with my rainbow baby. I’d thought my dream of being a mother was finally coming true. It did…but not in the way I’d hoped.
My baby had no heartbeat.
The next morning, eight and a half hours after the first dose of induction medication, I held my perfect son in my arms. He had his daddy’s nose and big feet. He was already thirteen inches long; he would have been a tall boy. And he was already an angel.
I’d thought a first trimester miscarriage had been hard. Your heart breaks. But when you labor to birth a baby you know is already dead, your heart shatters. When you hold that still, tiny body in your arms, the remnants of your heart splinter and somehow break again. You’re a mother. You’ve even given birth. But you have no child to raise.
We’d gotten a crib, a stroller, and a car seat. We’d stocked up on clothes and toys for our little babe. He’d been growing well. Every checkup had shown a healthy baby.
Until one didn’t.
Five months after my son was stillborn, I got third positive pregnancy test. And a third angel baby.
My three babies. My three angels. I miss them. So freaking much. Only one of them has a name. Only one of them was ever born. But he was born without a heartbeat. And that, my friend, is a grief that few understand.
I’m a mother. And yet, I’m not.
My dream, years in the making, has and yet hasn’t come true. And even if I could ignore this and live as if my life is the way I want it to be, there are daily reminders everywhere I go that women the world over keep getting my dream for themselves while I am still left grasping for it.
Every pregnancy announcement I see on social media makes me sob.
Every pregnant belly I see, makes me sob.
Every baby I see, makes me sob.
Every time I visit with my friends and their babies, I know that I’m welcome and yet I just don’t quite fit. I’m the only one without someone to call me Mama.
I pretend I’m fine. Unless I tell you, most people wouldn’t guess that I’m gripped by this grief. I pretend I’m not holding the tears in and shoving the sob to the bottom of my throat. I sit through parties and pretend to enjoy myself. I shake hands at networking events and give vague answers to intrusive questions about my family. But then, I see pregnant women in the grocery store. I walk past mothers with babies or with kids close to what would be my Hudson’s age at the park. And I have to try so hard to keep going, to keep pretending. To make whoever is around me believe that I’m fine. That there isn’t a hole within my soul.
Tears and driving a car in rush hour traffic don’t go well together. And yet, when I’m driving, my mind sneaks through the cracks in the barriers I’ve built there. Those barriers are meant to stop dreams and thoughts of what might have been and questions like ‘why her and not me?’.
I’m consumed by that gaping hole in my life, consumed by what might have been, consumed by jealousy. Grief and jealousy go together. This I’ve learned as more than twenty of my friends and family have announced pregnancies in the year since my son was born sleeping. I’m happy for them because I know how much someone can want a child. And yet, I’m supremely jealous of them, for getting what I have been praying for so many years. I’m jealous that they get an earthside baby on the first or second pregnancy and that I’m still waiting. That they get another child and another, and that I’m still waiting.
Exactly one month after my son’s birth, my dear friend gave birth to her rainbow baby. She sobbed with me the first time I held him. Our boys – they would have been best buds.
I’ve only seen that baby boy twice in the last year. I want to watch him grow up. And yet, it hurts so much to see him. It hurts so much.
Trisha Loehr is a freelance writer and editor. She spends a ridiculous amount of time reading novels and writing about them for her book blog, trishajennreads. She wants to edit novels for a living and one day finish one of her own manuscripts and pay someone else to edit it. Trisha lives in Calgary, Canada with her husband and dog.