I always knew (on some hypothetical level) that this day is difficult for a lot of people. I imagined what it would feel like for those missing moms who have died, for those missing children who have died, for those who are actively dealing with infertility, and those who can’t or choose not to have children (for a range of reasons, with a range of feelings about it.) This year I am one of “those.”
Sean and I lost our first pregnancy last week. We were still in the first trimester, but as cautious and aware as we were of the usual risks and statistics, we were already pretty attached to The Bean. I had this (hormone induced?) feeling that there was something good happening, there—that this was a very good Bean indeed. Even knowing that this kind of miscarriage usually means that there was something inherently wrong, something that would have kept the Bean from ever developing any further … even now I feel like there was something good, there. Something worth mourning and missing.
Our first positive pregnancy test was kind of funny. The line was faint enough that we couldn’t be absolutely sure it was really there. We used to make fun of those commercials for the expensive digital tests that say “1 in 4 women can misread a home pregnancy test.” And there we were, among the utterly confused 25%, buying one of those expensive digital tests. When that came back solidly positive, we scheduled a blood test. And then another, for comparison purposes. When all that came back positive, we still wondered and worried. I said to Sean, “Pregnancy is rough for people who want instant gratification.” He laughed and said that I should try to get used to it, because parenthood isn’t really an instant gratification thing, either.
I wanted to know everything I could about The Bean right away: I wanted to know if it was a girl or a boy, what we’d name it, if it was healthy, if it was going to make it through to the 12 week mark, when we planned to tell our friends and family. If the pregnancy had continued, there would have been even more questions without instant answers. Not really an instant gratification thing, parenthood. It’s a risk, a constant question with no instant answer.
Being open to that risk, those questions, that ambiguity and lack of instant answers—that’s pretty amazing. That’s worth celebrating. So this Mother’s Day, with new appreciation, I’m celebrating my mom. And because these holidays are totally arbitrary, I’m celebrating my dad, too. My parents dared to hope for a miracle when they were told their only child had less than 6 months to live. When I was cured they realized I was still just a big bundle of risk and unanswerable questions: as the crisis ended, the questions and the risk remained. And continue.
I’m celebrating my friends—parents or not—who take the risk to offer unconditional love and care, without any promise of instantly gratifying answers. I’m realizing that knowing people doesn’t mean I know their stories—miscarriage is common, but talking about it really isn’t. And so I’m also publicly celebrating the risk Sean and I took as we tried to add to our family, a risk we hope to take again someday. It is worth celebrating in the midst of our mourning and missing.
“You may fear that you could never survive another loss. But you are probably more resilient than you think. And you will probably gather up the courage to try again” Deborah Davis, "Empty Cradle, Broken Heart."
Sunday, May 8, 2011
This date, last year
Soon I will post a very cheerful synopsis of Mother's Day, 2011 ... but today my mind is lingering on Mother's Day, 2010. These past few weeks have been full of difficult anniversaries ... I would wake up and think, "a year ago today is when it started," "a year ago today is when it happened." A year ago today I posted the following note on facebook, titled, "Why I'm Celebrating Mothers Day." I'm posting it again here because I do want to mark these anniversaries somehow; I want to remember where we were and think about where we are now. This is posted with thanks to The Bean--you taught us so much in such a short time.