The Question That's Hard for Me to Answer as a Grieving Mother
I was in my early 20s, and my mind and soul were free. I hadn’t a worry in the world. I was just married, and life was beginning to make sense. Talk about starting a family was in the air and quickly became a reality.
Effortlessly, I was pregnant and began to feel like a mother more and more as my tummy grew. I was reading all the latest pregnancy books, and the baby’s room was filling up with furniture and blue baby things, as the news came I was carrying a boy. My pregnancy was going smoothly, and I couldn’t have been more excited.
Heading into the last stretch of my pregnancy I began to feel horrible. Something changed. My stomach felt like it was in knots, and finding a comfortable position was unheard of.
The midwife at my doctor’s office assured me I was feeling Braxton Hicks contractions. A few days later and still terribly uncomfortable, I began to worry. I couldn’t shake the sense of something wrong. “I don’t think I felt the baby move today,” I remember thinking. Just like that, my clear mind became jumbled with concern. My doctor sent me to the hospital to check things out. It didn’t take long before the nurse knew the uncomfortable sensations I was experiencing were contractions. I was in full-blown labor and only 25 weeks pregnant. I was terrified.
I was admitted to the hospital and immediately put on strong medication to stop my fast labor, but it wasn’t stopping. Things were happening so quickly, and so many conversations went on around me. I could hear the nurse telling my doctor I should be airlifted by helicopter to a hospital better equipped to handle such a small baby. I could hear her say I wasn’t going to make it in time. I was loaded into a ambulance and rushed an hour away from home to the nearest hospital.
Doctors and nurses hooked me up to machines from head to toe. I couldn’t breath, I was stunned from fear. How did this happen? How did I get here? The lights around me were blinding, but my world felt dark. Life suddenly changed. I grew into someone who would forever fear the worst case scenario. I began to wonder endlessly about the many what ifs. After two weeks bed rest, my son was born at 27 weeks by c-section. He was small and in bad shape. He too needed to be taken to another hospital that was more equipped to care for him. As I sat beside his incubator day after day I had a lot of time to think and reflect, to question every second of my life., to view this world differently. A part of myself disappeared with every hour that went by.
A month after his birth, he passed away. The life as I knew it and everything else were gone. Still in my maternity clothes, I left the hospital empty handed. With a shattered heart, with distorted beliefs, with a story I never wanted to speak of.
“Who am I?” I wondered.
“Who will I be now?”
“How will I ever do this?”
I’ve had two children since the death of my son. But things have never returned to normal. Although my heart still works, with every beat I can still feel the gap that was created after his death. I still have a hard time with many things, for instance the question that seems so simple to most.
“How many children do you have?”
I want to scream, “Three!” But to do so would mean I have to reveal a painful part of my life. Your face will instantly have an uncomfortableness about it. Our eyes will both struggle to avoid eye contact. Your smile will turn to pity, and the air will be filled with sadness.
So, feeling like a liar, I answer, “Two.”
Deep down in my heart I want to tell you about him, I want him to exist in this world in other places than just my heart. How quickly this world has already forgotten him. I can’t help but feel somewhat responsible for that. I learned that my grief made other people uncomfortable, that most people wanted my heart to heal faster than was possible, that the majority of the world couldn’t comprehend this dimension of pain.
I greave quietly to this day. After 15 years, I still long for someone to ask about him. I want to comfortably be able to speak his name. After 15 years, I still juggle with the right and wrong time to answer that question truthfully. It’s not easy. My journey into motherhood started 15 years ago. It’s a novel not everyone will read. It’s a book with missing pages, and it’s still being written.
In my heart I know the truth. What I really want to say… what I really want you to know… is that I am a mother of three.