11 weeks + 2 days pregnant
So it’s Mother’s Day today and it feels like a stark reminder of my absent little girl. I’ve wanted children for a long as I can remember so this isn’t the first year that I’ve felt this empty hole in my heart. Holidays like this one can have this unfortunate effect- the Hallmark perception of an idealistic life can make us feel inadequate, unwhole, defected. And we are bombarded with these images-on tv, on advertisements, on posters, signs and messages, and on social media with picture-postcard versions of the perfect family life.
I quit Facebook the day we lost Nieve. I couldn’t bare to exist in a competitive world which hid its daily struggles behind a wall of beaming selfies and flamboyant status updates. I was raw with an open wound and could no longer operate in a world where I was pressured to portray only the best of myself. I also felt a deep envy of all mothers everywhere and wanted to break free from exposure to that airbrushed image of idealistic family life. I couldn’t look anymore.
I’ve spent almost the whole of my adult life yearning to be a mother. Before meeting Matthew, I was in a relationship that spanned over a decade and that person was adamant that having children was a very selfish act. For a long time, I echoed his philosophy on parenthood. I was naive and impressionable and I’d had it instilled in me from a very young age that to love meant to sacrifice your own needs and desires. I gave up on me and invested in him instead, and I thought that that was what love was. Externally, I mounded myself into the person he wanted me to be but internally a voice began shouting to be heard and over the years it got louder and louder until I couldn’t ignore it any more and I walked away.
As a child I’d learned to accommodate my father in much the same way. Sundays through my childhood were governed by his moods and from very small I learned how to be placid, agreeable and quiet in order to appease him. He wasn’t a fan of overtly emotional displays; no crying or fussmaking- a difficult feat for any young child. We were condemned for laughing at the dinner table- be happy but not too happy. I tried my hardest to avoid rocking the boat on his ever-stormy waters. I learned to silence my own wants and needs to cater for his, so it’s no wonder this was a pattern I replicated through my relationship in my twenties.
When I finally began to listen to my own mind, I was 32 and terrified that motherhood had passed me by. I lived with the regret that I may have left it too late and mourned for the children that I had missed out on over the years that I’d allowed to go past. Since losing Nieve I’ve realised that there are so many people in the world who want to parent but are denied that privilege because of biology, society, economics, or a whole host of other reasons. I know that I was blessed to be able to experience at least some the joys of very early motherhood, even if my baby wasn’t for keeps. The elation at the pair of parallel pink lines signifying the beginning of new life and the start of my journey into motherhood. The magic of seeing my baby twisting and turning on an ultrasound and captured in photographs to treasure and show off to the world. The sensation of her kicks and wriggles reminding me of her presence and reminding me that she was real and that I was indeed, a mother.
Mother’s Day every year, and not just this year, reminds me of what I feel I should have in my life, what I don’t yet have, what is missing. It’s a day that reminds me of my advancing age and draws my awareness to the deafening tick of my biological clock. This year it feels all the more solemn because I am a mother without her child. There are no flowers or chocolates for me because in the eyes of society I’m a mother but not-quite. It’s a somber reality that I am forgotten because I don’t yet have the living proof of a child. Today I hide from the television and other forms of media, from witnessing that connection between mothers and their children because it makes my heart ache for a parallel universe in which I’m the one creating the picture-perfect family image, holding my own beautiful living daughter in my arms.
Society doesn’t recognise me as a mother. There are no Mother’s Day cards for angel mummy’s. Being a Mother seems like something you do rather than something you are- a verb instead of a noun. With no child to mother I feel redundant and like my title has been banished.
But I am and always will be a mother, even though my arms are empty, the family photo frames are bare and there were no flowers or chocolates to wake up to this morning. My daughter was real- she existed, and I was…I am, her mother. “I carried you every second of your life and I shall love you every second of mine.”