It will be the first Mother’s Day I celebrate with my 10-month-old son, Skye. But I’ve been marking this holiday for a few years.
Before Skye, there was a baby my husband and I would refer to as baby S. He or she would be named Sage or Sara. In August 2018, at 10 weeks pregnant, I received a dilation and curettage (d&c) procedure due to an incomplete miscarriage. My pregnancy ended early on and the joy for baby S did too.
After my miscarriage, I struggled in my grief and the unintentional responses from relatives who knew what had happened. “You can try again,” “It was meant to be,” “It happened for a reason,” “It was God’s plan” and others. No one asked me how I felt.
My first Mother’s Day after losing baby S was hard. Not that I wanted people to wish me a happy day – I understand that for most people, Mother’s Day means you’ve got a living, breathing child and I had nothing to show for it – but I hoped someone would remember what I’d been through months prior and acknowledge that this wouldn’t be a normal day for me.
By my second Mother’s Day, I was empty-handed again. My second baby, a little boy named Sage, died earlier that year (in January 2020) shortly after his birth. Halfway through my pregnancy with him, he was diagnosed with a severe skeletal disorder called Thanatophoric dysplasia. I delivered Sage at 31 weeks, he lived for 61 minutes and spent most of that time in our arms.
Mother’s Day was one of the most difficult holidays that year. Although there were a few people who now acknowledged my motherhood journey, I still heard platitudes from relatives and could tell people didn’t quite know what to say or how to relate to me. I felt so unseen.
This year, even after the birth of Skye and the joy that comes with it, I brace myself for the continued lack of understanding of my identity as a mother of three. People will only see one child, and that truly hurts my heart.
The arrival of a healthy baby didn’t erase my pain, and remembering the two children I lost at different stages in pregnancy is important to me. I know it’s hard for others to understand, but for my husband and I, there are others that came before him.
Mother's Day is a day to remember all moms with both living and nonliving children. And as I’ve learned, it is also a day to remember and think of those who want to be mothers but for many reasons can't be or aren't at the moment, but wish they were. If you’re wondering how to reach out to someone who suffered a loss of a child or is in the waiting, one of the best questions one can ask is ‘How are you feeling?’ Asking at all is crucial to making support feel meaningful on this day.
Those of us who have experienced a loss are probably not going to feel “happy” on Mother’s Day, so a short message saying ‘Hey, I recognize it’s Mother’s Day, and I’m thinking about you.’ will also go a long way. <3