Mother’s Day, for me this year, was a time of reflection. I thought alot about what type of mother I am – what I do well and what I’d like to improve upon. I thought about the mother I’m blessed to have and how to best learn all I can from her. I also thought about the son I lost, before the two I’m blessed to have now, and how I’d like to help others who have experienced infant loss to navigate the hard road they unfortunately find themselves on. Here are a few of the pearls I came away with.
On BEING a Good Mom . . .
- You have what it takes. I remember talking to one of my best friends when her son, my godson, was born. I told her I did’t feel like I was ready to be a mom yet. She said, “that’s because you never feel ready”. Somehow that comforted me. I believe it is true. Motherhood is very much a learning and growing experience. No one enters with all the answers. Trust yourself enough to go for it.
- There is no cookie cutter. It is easy to get caught up in comparing yourself to others, especially in the realm of raising children. Especially with the host of information – helpful and otherwise – available online and via social media. Gathering or sharing ideas is valuable. Take them all with a grain of salt, and understand that what works swimmingly for one family may mean complete chaos for another. Put as much of your unique self into your mothering style as you can. Your children will remember most the things that stood out as true to you and your family.
- Ask for help. Seriously, do not skip past this point. When I had my now 3 year old son, I’d been on bed rest and restrictions during the pregnancy. I was so excited to have him, and take care of him as people had (thankfully) been caring for me. A week after he was born, I ended up back in the hospital for complications from my c-section surgery. I found myself away from my week old son, and back to being a patient. I was devastated. I needed a lot of help right off the bat. Thankfully, that rough experience taught me early on to recognize when I needed help; and not to be scared to ask for it.
- I could never repay her. I always thought I had a great mom. Even when I was a teenager and thought she would never really understand me (wrong BTW), I recognized that the love, effort and grace she pointed in my direction were pretty endless. Now, after seeing for myself what motherhood actually entails, I know with certainty I am in her debt for life. And that’s cool with me because she’s awesome. The best I can do is be thankful for her, spend as much time with her as she will allow, and attempt to pamper her whenever I can. I don’t have to do anything to make her proud because for some strange reason, she’s already proud of me (truly astounding).
- Even she was scared. I tell people I was born in Houston, and I was. The whole story is far more interesting. My parents were not living in Houston at the time. My young adult parents were living in San Antonio, a place we’d end up living again later on, since my dad was in the Air Force (lots of military bases in San Antonio). My Mom came home to the Houston area to have me because her mom was here. After me, my mom eventually had two more children and went on to travel all across this country and overseas as a military wife and mom. She got it down to a science, professional level moming, but that first go round had her nervous (ask my dad what part he played in that for a funny story). The point is, even the best moms have scary moments. Find someone who can encourage you while you walk through; and keep moving, learning and growing.
On LOSING a Baby . . .
- You are not alone. Infant Loss is so tough in an all encompassing way. Unfortunately it can also be a very lonely feeling place. Those closest to you may feel they either do not know what to do or say, or that you should be given space. While both are certainly understandable reactions, what is created can feel like a vacuum of sadness, that only you are experiencing. Statistics certainly show otherwise. PILARI quotes that 1 in 3* pregnancies ends in (some kind of) loss. So if you find yourself, like I did, lost in this life changing place please reach out to some one. Ask a loved one to just listen, even if they won’t have an appropriate response. Seek out resources (like PILARI, Greive Out Loud, and many others) and support groups. Consider counseling. Feel free to talk about your experience and feelings. You’ll be surprised who may relate. And know that hope, healing, and happiness are all waiting for you if you can just find the strength to keep seeking them out. Do not give up. You are not alone.
*Other sources may interpret statistics as closer to 1 in 4