Mother’s Day. It’s the day we dread when we are missing our babies who died, the day we anticipate for weeks and make plans to avoid and breathe a sigh of relief when we have gotten through it once more.
And then, we get pregnant with a baby that lives, and everything is all better, including Mother’s Day, right?
Not so fast.
We know the truth — that, while our friends and loved ones may hope that this baby will make it all better and get us back to normal, our new normal will forever include the children who are not with us and while a living baby in our arms is a huge solace and a balm to our spirits, that does not mean we stop grieving, missing, and longing for the babies who are not in our arms.
So. Enter Mother’s Day, the holiday I still have an uneasy relationship with, and the holiday that brings out a cacophony of emotions – which, like a lot of other things about loss and pregnancy after loss, I have found out is totally normal.
Especially if this is your first Mother’s Day being pregnant or parenting after loss, maybe these six Mother’s Day emotions will resonate with you, too.
Joyful. Because your baby is alive! Alive! It is okay to be happy this year and to look forward to getting a Mother’s Day card!
Sad. Because you miss the babies who are not with you, and a day and season that is totally focused on moms and their kids can make you acutely aware of what and who you don’t have.
Guilty. That you get to enjoy this day this year in a different way when you know plenty of women who aren’t (it’s not your fault). That you are forgetting your children in Heaven (you aren’t). That you aren’t wearing a t-shirt to let the world know you understand what it is to have Mother’s Day be painful (you don’t have to).
Anxious. How should you react this year? Should you look forward to it? When people ask about your children or pregnancy, what should you say?
Mad. Because this isn’t your “first Mother’s Day”. Because you deserved to be recognized last year, too, and so does every other bereaved mother. Because you feel like your other children have been forgotten. Because no matter how you observe Mother’s Day, it will still be painful to others. And that stinks.
Confused. Because it’s a simple holiday for so many people, and for us it brings up such a mix of emotions – like so many other ways that life changes when you have been through loss.
If you are feeling these emotions and more, rest assured – you are normal! And you will get through this day. Here are a few ideas that may help:
Wear something to remember. One thing I do every Mother’s Day now is to wear a bird’s nest necklace I got with seven beads in it – one for each of my children, both in Heaven and on Earth. Because each of my children has taught me something and made me the mother that I am today.
Be gentle with yourself. If you still feel like you just can’t do the “normal” Mother’s Day activities this year, don’t. It’s okay. Plan something else for your family and don’t beat yourself up for that.
Extend grace to others. The people around you who have been walking this road with you may not know the “right” thing to say to you this Mother’s Day. They are happy for you, and they want you to know that, and at least one of them will say something this weekend that is not the right thing to say. Smile graciously and say thank you. They are trying and unless and until someone walks this road (which we would not wish on anyone) it is just hard to know what to say and do.
I pray that you each have a blessed and peaceful Mother’s Day, rejoicing in the life entrusted to you on earth, even while you remember and miss the little ones who are not with you today.
What other emotions are in your heart as Mother’s Day approaches?