Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Unrecognized Mothers

After I lost Elliott, I realized how taboo of a subject it was to talk about losing a baby or struggling with infertility.  About a week after I found out that Elliott had died, but before I actually miscarried, I decided to go out to eat with a group of people.  It had been a week of pure despair and I convinced myself that dinner with friends would bring a little bit of joy into my world.  As the group of us sat at dinner, there was a very uncomfortable silence and the unspoken "elephant in the room" was obviously regarding my baby.  As I forced back tears the entire meal, I kept hoping someone would just say something.  I mean, these were supposed to be my friends, but no one could even muster the courage to say, "I'm sorry".  It wasn't that I wanted the attention on me, because that was the last thing I wanted.  It was that at that moment in time I needed someone to say they cared.  Eventually the topic came up and one person said, "Oh, I don't want to talk about that".  I will never forget those words because at that moment I was determined to change how I react to people who are going through difficult times.  Needless to say, I left dinner in tears, but I also learned the importance of talking about that "elephant in the room".

As the weeks went on following my miscarriage I still had many awkward moments where people just didn't say anything to me when I expected them to.  However, I had to keep reminding myself that just a month ago I would have been reacting the same way if my friend or co-worker had lost a baby.  I think it is safe to assume that anyone that has not lost a loved one, especially a baby, or isn't close to someone who has, does not realize the importance of talking about that child.  As mothers we want validation that our child was "someone" in this world.  We long for people to recognize that our hearts are broken and that we are mothers, despite not having a child on this earth to prove it.  I think this too goes for women who can't have children.  Deep down I know that every female has a desire to be a mom and when they can't, then that pain is just as deep as those who have lost a child.  Just a few weeks ago, I was talking to a lady in her 50's about her struggle with infertility.  The numerous conversations we had before this night she had always joked about how she wouldn't have been a good mom.  But that was a coverup, because as we talked on a more personal level, tears came to her eyes as she shared her desire to be a mom and how it never happened.  My heart just broke for this lady and it made me realize that the pain never really goes away.

So with this being said, I encourage everyone to step past their insecurities and to open their hearts and eyes to those people who are unrecognized mothers, whether they have lost a child or can't have children.  We want to talk and we want people to realize that despite not being a mother to a physical being in this world, we are mothers in our hearts.  My dearest friends never even flinched when talking about Elliott, and they still comfortably bring up his name when we hang out.  They are a rare group of girls that took my pain into their own hearts and have shared in that burden of loss with me.  I will forever me indebted to them for not shying away from something awkward and taboo to talk about.  And I encourage everyone to follow their example because I know there are many women (more than people realize) that are hurting deep down in their hearts because their desire to be a mother is more than they can handle alone.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so grateful for the people in my life who recognize with candor the fact that we've now had three children instead of just the two "visible" ones. Every time someone brushes aside that second pregnancy (e.g., my OB's nurse who spent my entire third pregnancy calling it my second) or who assumes (for good reason) that this new baby is my second son and not my third, I experience a stab of pain all over again. Most of the time it's just easier to go along with it and not explain the truth, but it hurts every time. And it will probably always be that way.