Just like the journey we are all on, this post took an unexpected turn. I had promised a childbirth educator’s perspective on the stages and phases of labor with a unique focus on pregnancy after loss; today’s specific topic would have been on active labor. However, it’s May and Mothers’ Day and four years ago on May 5th our daughter Vivian was stillborn nearly at term. It was a day that I knew in the moment would profoundly change my life, and it did. It’s still changing the way I live, breathe, love, parent, and remember. This month has been foggy, like it can be when grieving, but it has also brought a one thing into focus that ultimately lead to a new direction for this post.
In some ways this month has been just like every other month since Viv died. I witnessed and supported diverse families in my community; some never touched by pregnancy loss, some finally welcoming their babe after years of hardships, others not personally touched by loss but grieving as a friend, and yet others just embarking on this terribly beautiful path of loving a baby gone too soon. I honor each one of these families and feel deep gratitude in being able to support them along the way.
But this month was different. Harder. Sharper. I found myself missing Viv and also consumed with worry that I was “doing it right”. As the years pass and my rainbows grow, it feels easy to get lost in the shuffle of our busy lives. There are times that I simply cannot manage the balance between being present with my amazing littles and simultaneously wishing that Viv was here in the sandbox with us. I can find myself suspended in the state of not being good/caring/present/loving/remembering/honoring/perfect enough.
And then I left a birth where the mama, having never been touched by loss personally, was holding her beautiful, healthy, wet, 10 second old daughter and saying, “I was so worried. I’m so lucky. You’re here. You’re okay”. And then I left a postpartum with a mama and her tiny weeks old newborn where she sat and cried because she didn’t know how to teach her; she was worried that she didn’t have good mothering instincts because all she did “ was sit and stare at her”. And then I left a tea date with a mama who just sent her baby over the rainbow and was agonizing over the picture to place on her headstone, saying “it needs to be as perfect as she was”.
It hit me. We are all mothers and we are all worried. Our worries are different and they evolve as our paths unfold before us. But the uniting, loud-and-clear, undeniable fact is that we are all good mothers and therefore we are all worried. It’s the hardest and most blessed thing to love something so much, whether growing in our arms or in our hearts.
So, just like I worry about the perfect school for my oldest daughter and the best way to get my youngest son to start potty-training, I worry if I’m honoring my Vivian in the truest way. It’s the unique skill we hone as parents of children both over and under the rainbow. It doesn’t make us less or different. It doesn’t make us better or harder working. It makes us mothers.
My rainbows, giggling in bed together.