There are parents without carseats, diapers or pacifiers. Mothers who do not have bedtime rituals or middle of the night feedings. Parents without hand-stamped necklaces or birthstone rings. These are the other mothers – the ones in our midst who are quietly hurting.
I am burdened for us ‘other’ kind of parents. I can’t shake the feelings of injustice, each story cutting my heart anew, every remembrance bringing fresh tears. My friends – people God has placed in my life – are suffering. And other friends are joyful, yet at times I feel unable to rejoice with them.
This Mother’s Day, I should have been the mom of four. My home should have been bursting with two preschoolers, a toddler and my one year old. I was supposed to be mom to all these babies, but instead I didn’t meet two of them. They joined throngs of other babies in heaven that were never held by their parents, countless babies that were held but didn’t breathe, and babies whose lives ended suddenly in tragedy. These are the babies I can’t get out of my head. These are the parents I can’t get out of my heart.
Because while carrying a teeny human is no small feat, and laboring is just that – labor – delivering a healthy squalling babe is the most taxing act ever accomplished, not doing these things is unbearable. On Sunday, I will wish the moms in my life a happy day with their beautiful families out loud, and I will quietly celebrate the other mothers. The ones who are living pain in loss. The ones who have yet to carry a babe. The parents of heaven babies. The women who, with tears glistening, shared the exact date they lost their unmet babies – some 50+ years ago. The parents with empty nurseries and still rockers. The parents whose adoptions fell thru or were abruptly reversed. The couples who grieve in secret, telling few. The ones with sacred tokens and mementos – keepsake necklaces, locks of hair, hospital bracelets – because that’s all they got to take home with them.
And honestly, these are the mothers I will celebrate on Sunday.
I will be quiet on Mother’s Day, on and offline. Yes, I will be celebrated, loved, cherished, and I will be absolutely covered in gratitude for my two beautiful children. But my heart will be with those mamas, grieving with and for them, and for myself. My mind will be caught up with Sam. Kate. Paula. Mary. Amy. Therese. Sally. Diana. Jen. Marcia. and many, many others. It’s not fair, that some women get babies and a day dedicated to celebrating them. It’s unjust and maddening and sad and unfair.
So today I tell you, parents of babies who are not in your arms. I remember you on Mother’s Day, and you are celebrated.
I celebrate you getting out of bed.
I celebrate you waiting to cry until after your newly pregnant friend leaves.
I celebrate you balling up your fist at the complaining of another parent.
I celebrate you enjoying a quiet evening with your spouse.
I celebrate you crying in the shower at the overwhelming unfairness.
I celebrate you scrolling thru Facebook, steeling yourself against adorable joyfilled photos of families.
I celebrate you going to church and the park and Target.
I celebrate you enduring tests and procedures and needles.
I celebrate you as you slump on the bathroom floor, allowing yourself to feel the cycle defeating you again.
And as you rise, choosing to do it all again tomorrow, I celebrate you.
I remember your babies. They, and you, are not forgotten. They matter. You matter. And on Mother’s Day, you, mother, will be celebrated.
–this post has been edited from the original published here in 2013. I will be reading a similar version at a service this weekend at our church called Unspoken. It’s to give voice to us, the other parents, the ones who have struggled with infertility, miscarriage, infant loss, inability to conceive, and the families who love us. If you’re local, you’re invited. —
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