October 15, 2014

A woman's maternity through the lens of child or pregnancy loss

Because today is set aside to honor all our little babes who have been lost as infants or through miscarriage I wanted to share this post that I originally wrote while fresh in my grief of having lost Peter Mark in December 2007.

I recently received the Sisters of Life's Winter 2007 newsletter. The entire thing is about adoption and one of the articles shares their thoughts about adoption.

Despite the fact that they are speaking of women who place their babies with adoptive families, some of their comments struck me as a woman grieving a miscarried baby. Three points in particular were especially affirming and poignant:

Maternity is forever. Once a woman is pregnant, her maternity can never be given away. She will always be a mother. There will never be a day in her life when she is ever, in her mind, someone who does not have a child. She is a mother and that is forever... One lives her motherhood all the days of her life. She knows how old her child is, always. She may not have seen the child in years - it has not affected one iota of her maternity and the reality of her active motherhood, which is real.

This statement describes how I feel about our first child. As Peter Mark's due date approaches (Jan 15th) I think about how big I would be at this point. While most other people do not think of our first, I think of him every day. I wonder about his personality, how he would have looked. I picture his fingers and toes and potbelly. I imagine holding and nursing him. And I wonder how one "mothers" someone who is experiencing life in the fullest.

She needs a lot of support, to be loved, to experience her own goodness. She needs to have others delight in her so that she can draw upon those deep reservoirs of goodness within herself. She needs love and laughter and distractions in her worries. And she needs lots of time. She may need to cry her eyes out for months. And we need to be comfortable with that.

I have found this to be very true. Not that I want to forget the pain, but I definitely do not want to be alone. Working on the house has been a blessing in disguise as it brings friends and family to us every weekend. Seldom do I speak of how I'm really feeling to these people - sometimes because it would be awkward and sometimes because it's just not needed - but it is good to chat, catch up and laugh with people. And it does feel good to be loved and cared about so that people will give up their Saturdays for us.

She will live the long loneliness, really, of experiencing and knowing a love that she cannot express, but it is not the absence of love.
This is probably the worst part of it all. I know how to love my husband, family, friends and the baby in my womb. But I don't know how to love this saint child of mine. At this point, the only thing I can do to communicate my love for him is by crying. Which I suppose is sufficient.

If you have lost a baby please know that I am praying for you and holding you close. If you have a specific request related to infertility or child loss you can share it with me here and I would be honored to pray for you in memory of my son. 

If you are looking for ways to support a miscarrying mother, here's the list of things I found helpful.

If you are wondering why I am pained when people tell me that my son died because "God needed another angel," you can read my thoughts here

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  1. "She will live the long loneliness, really, of experiencing and knowing a love that she cannot express, but it is not the absence of love."

    Oh, how very true this is. I feel this way not only for the baby that I held in my arms for 6 days but also for the one I lost in miscarriage at 9 weeks. I will always be a mother to 4 even though the world only sees me as a mom to 2.

  2. This is really beautiful, Bonnie. As someone who has experienced miscarriage and secondary infertility, this speaks straight to my heart. Thank you for sharing it.

  3. "She will live the long loneliness, really, of experiencing and knowing a love that she cannot express, but it is not the absence of love."

    This is so poignant and true. I deeply miss the opportunity to express my love for Gregory. I am sad when I don't feel comfortable acknowledging him for whatever reason (i.e., I just met a person and don't want to reveal something so personal for my own akwardness or theirs).

    This is a beautiful post and I love the words you share from sisters of LIfe.

  4. A close friend of mine just entered with the Sisters of Life last month, and she is so excited. I love thinking about the ways she will be serving mothers like you and me from the unique perspective of chosen celibacy and the surrender of her own capacity for physical motherhood. I wonder if that makes them more receptive, in some way, to the needs and the sufferings of grieving mothers? It's such a mystery. Anyway, love that you quoted them. Peter Mark, pray for us!

  5. Beautifully said. Thank you so much for sharing.

  6. Beautiful. Many of us share the same sentiments today.

  7. So beautiful and the words from the Sisters of Life are so powerful and good. I'm going to share this on FB so others can read these beautiful words too. Thank you for sharing.