I read an article last night about women in my situation. They called us "unfinished mothers". We are the unfortunate few who became mothers and then had our children tragically taken from us. Empty arms, empty cradles and broken hearts are all we need to garner both this wonderfully confusing label and membership into the world's most horrible club.
What confuses me most is that I'm not sure at what point I'll be finished, or if I'm even supposed to be. Aren't you always a mother once you give birth, no matter how long your child lives? Once a tiny soul has flickered to life within you, aren't you a mother - aren't you a mother right at that very moment and forever more?
I guess I should read the article again. Maybe it offers more clues on the second reading.
I've been thinking a lot about my experience as a mother lately. I remember feeling so lost and confused when I first had Thomas because I knew I was a mother, but I didn't know how to go about being one without my child. I kind of hoped that would get easier - if not easier to understand, at least easier to bear.
But it hasn't really. I feel like I'm going to forever be on the outside looking in, steaming up the windows of mothers who have their children with them. Those women know how to be mothers. I know I love Thomas every bit as much as any mother loves her living child, but that's all I have in common with my stroller pushing sisters. I've never changed a diaper, I've never been woken up to the sound of hungry cries in the night, I've never soothed away a bad dream or felt my child instinctively sink into me seeking comfort and the protection of my embrace. Thomas and I never had that - we didn't have any time to be mother and son.
So the question remains: what kind of a mother am I? Is love alone enough? I just still can't help feeling like a bit of a fraud - claiming the title without any of the responsibilities.
My God, I know we had our fill of responsibilities after Thomas was born, and I know in his 20 hours we had to make the hardest decision parents can make - a decision most parents never have to make - but it was all a blur of doctors, nurses, pain and tears. Believe me, I'm not minimizing it - it will take a lifetime for me to deal with just how large it all was - I'm just saying that despite it all I don't feel like I had a chance to really be his mother. I didn't have the chance to be a mother.
I was robbed.
And I hate the feeling of being a mother in name only. I really hate it. I feel so left out and so inept. I want to mother - I want to be able to do all the things I should be doing - all the things I was waiting to do for those beautiful 9 months. I want to feel like I'm part of the stroller pushers club. I don't want to be different anymore.
I wonder if this is what it feels like to be an amputee or a paraplegic - and I mean no disrespect what I say that. What I mean is that they're people just like everyone else, but deep down they know they're different. They know what they're missing and they know that in some ways they'll always be on the outside looking in. They know there's nothing they can do to change that and they know people will always look at them just a little differently.
I know differences are what make people beautiful, but there's nothing beautiful in feeling different because your baby is dead.