As we honor mothers, past and present, maternal figures in our lives and the feminine qualities that mothers embody, I recognize still another expression of motherhood. That is, the women who have had the experience of motherhood through miscarriages, stillborn births and the loss of a child before birth.
Most of us know someone who has lived through a miscarriage or stillborn birth. It is not rare and happens in approximately 15-20% of pregnancies in the United States *. I have an amazing 16-year-old daughter, Nicole, who is my light. I also experienced miscarriage five times, once at six months gestation where my baby girl was born prematurely and died. In the case of the premature birth, while I was put under anesthesia to undergo a D&C to remove the placenta, my baby was autopsied and incinerated. All without my knowledge nor consent. My husband and I were never able to hold our child, nor bury her. The autopsy indicated the baby was perfect. There was no medical answer to help us understand. Our perfect baby simply died.
The loss of a pregnancy and a baby is devastating. So are many of the comments women hear by well-intentioned folk who truly want to do good. I heard “it is for the best”, “it is what God wanted”, “you probably are not meant to be a mother”, “the baby was probably deformed/retarded/sick, etc.”, “why bring babies into the world anyway when you could adopt unwanted children”, and the list goes on and on. I also heard healing words that led me to recover and open my heart again. Those words were “I love you and am here for you”, “what can I do to help?” and “you are a wonderful mother to the child you lost- he/she only knew love.”
For all women who share the knowledge of this type of loss, I honor your motherhood. I am filled with gratitude for every experience of motherhood I have been gifted.
Let us pay homage to all children, those who were born and those who weren’t, for choosing to make us mothers; a truly wondrous and humbling experience.
*US National Library of Medicine statistic. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001488.htm