Mother’s Day. It’s tomorrow. Just in case you’ve managed to avoid every piece of advertising that’s come through your letterbox for the last six or so weeks.
We have a chequered history, Mother’s Day and I. My first and second were right shitters, if we’re being honest.
For my first Mother’s Day we were half a world away in the UAE and my baby was still in the SCBU at three weeks old. She was fine, was always going to be fine, was just teeny at four pounds and six weeks prem. Everything about her being in there and me being at home felt wrong. And it was wrong. I mean, you’re not supposed to birth a baby and then leave the hospital without her. It’s just not how the story goes. So, Mother’s Day was always going to be tricky that year.
To complement this rich tapestry of hormones, homesickness, and emotional upheaval, my dear husband, in his wisdom, decided that it would be better to let the day pass by unmentioned. Technically it was Southern Hemisphere Mother’s Day and so just another Sunday where we were but I waited. And waited. Mid afternoon I reminded him that he’d best ring his own Mum since it was MOTHER’S DAY and all. He continued on his path down the hallway for a few steps before returning to give me a quick kiss and a ‘Happy Mother’s Day’. Cue postpartum meltdown. Bless his heart, he’s become wiser since.
Mother’s Day Two. Worse. Oh yes, worse. Again, the UAE. This time I had my first baby safely at home, but I had lost my second. Mother’s Day 2012 I spent in hospital after a miscarriage.
I’ve only told a handful of people about that. I’m not sure why, but we have this strange thing in our culture where we don’t talk about miscarriage. We don’t tell people we’re pregnant until we hit that magic twelve week mark and so it’s really hard to tell people when we don’t actually get there. No one knows what to say to you and if you say too much, you’ll cry. It’s somehow easier to say nothing at all, to stuff the grief down, out of sight, where it won’t make anyone uncomfortable.
How do you even explain the heartache of losing someone that you never met, anyway? As a mother, well for this one at least, as soon as you find out you’re pregnant, even in the earliest days, you start dreaming little dreams about who this tiny person that you’re growing will be. Names. What they’ll look like. The perfection of their downy little head fitting so perfectly beneath your chin when you gather them to your chest. And then all of a sudden they’re gone, and you quickly realise they never really were, not for anyone else, not really. It’s surreal.
I don’t dwell on it these days. Mother’s Day is a reminder. It doesn’t make me heartsick anymore. I look at my younger two and know I wouldn’t have one of them had my second pregnancy gone to term. I feel for people who never have the luxury of that thought.
Mother’s Days have, mercifully, improved for me since then. The handmade cards have been forthcoming this year and I have high hopes that tomorrow will bring a sleep in, walk on the hills and maybe a new pair of slippers. Sad, I know, but I am in desperate need, and the idea of husband having to select some is really quite amusing.
I know for some people tomorrow will be rough with all the reminders it brings: the women who mothered you, the children you mothered, the babies you dreamed of mothering, the ones you wish for now. I hope you find some comfort in thinking about the beauty of what was and what still may be.