Saturday, April 30, 2011

Am I A Mother?

Often, people don’t realize how difficult Mother’s Day can be for so many: those who have lost their mothers, who have a strained relationship with their mothers or with their children, those with children who have made poor choices, those who are dealing with infertility – and for those who have had a pregnancy loss, especially if they have no other living children.  They may ask, “Am I a mother?”  Am I a mother if I am not raising my child?  If I never got to hold my baby?  If I have no physical evidence that my child existed beyond a positive home pregnancy test?  If my children died as embryos in an IVF clinic before they were even placed in my womb?  Am I a mother?

If this is where you are at, here are a few suggestions for surviving, and even celebrating, Mother’s Day this year:

  1. Realize that yes, you are a mother.  Your child may not be with you physically, but he or she was alive from the moment of conception.  Your life was changed from the moment your child came into existence, and it will never be the same again.
  2. Plan for positive activities.  If you can, focus on celebrating your own mother.  You may also choose to celebrate the life of your baby in heaven with a balloon release or a private candle-lighting ceremony.  Plan an enjoyable activity with your husband, one you can look forward to.
  3. Protect your heart.  Especially if your heart is raw from a recent loss, don’t put yourself in circumstances that will pour salt on that raw wound.  If your church makes a big deal of Mother’s Day with baby dedications or distributing flowers to mothers, you can stay home or plan a different kind of worship that day.  It’s okay, really.
  4. If you have living children, consider how you will answer the question, “How many children do you have?”  It’s not a betrayal to just mention your living children.  It’s also okay to say something along the lines of, “One on earth, three in heaven.”
  5. Remember that for most people, Mother’s Day is simply a day to celebrate.  They aren’t intentionally overlooking you or minimalizing your grief.  This will not remove your hurt, but remembering it can help you not to take it as personally.

If you are a family member of someone preparing for Mother’s Day in the shadow of pregnancy loss, I encourage you to read the article, “What Grieving Moms want for Mother’s Day”
for some ideas of how to gently reach out to and encourage your loved one. You may also send a loved one a free Healing Hearts e-card specifically designed for pregnancy and infant loss.

If you are a pastor planning your Mother’s Day service, please consider how to make your church activities of that day sensitive to those for whom it is a difficult day, keeping in mind that 1 out of 6 couples deal with infertility on some level, and that at least one-fourth of all pregnancies end in loss, a topic addressed in this open letter to pastors.  Those in the church often speak of motherhood and fatherhood as “God’s highest calling” – a tantalizing and frustrating target that seems out of reach to many.   A simple mention of this from the pulpit or in a prayer goes a long way toward helping such couples feel included, their pain acknowledge and valued.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you. It is hard to express how much this means.