Last weekend, it was Mother’s Day in the UK and I was seeing various mums wish each other Happy Mother’s Day on social media. What left me with a weird feeling were the ‘Happy FIRST Mother’s Day’ messages. All these ladies had (close to) newborns, so it would be their first Mother’s Day, right? Except, maybe not – at least not by my definition… Because I don’t believe that’s where motherhood starts.
I consider myself a mother, because together with my fiancé, I created the start of a new life. To me, it’s not relevant when it ended. Most children outlive their parents, but when that doesn’t happen, it doesn’t make you any less of a mother, whether your child was eight years old or a six-week-old embryo.
Arguably, a lot of people consider birth the start of motherhood, but to me, it’s also irrelevant whether a child lived long enough for the woman to give birth. To me, giving birth just means that from now on, your child lives outside of your body’s protective fences. Denying that I’m a mother would be like denying that I ever got pregnant and carried a mini human inside me.
We were responsible for our Poppy from the very start of her life. That ever-present feeling of concern associated with parenthood starts well before you give birth. I was doing everything I could to protect her, just like I would have done if she were born. It was my duty. Except, with it being her ‘home’, I had to protect my body, rather than a separate physical entity. It was like she was me. This is a feeling all pregnant women know, regardless of whether they go through birth, stillbirth or miscarriage.
But it’s not just concern; you also feel proud of your baby, even if it passed away in your womb. Sadly, it’s often hard for anyone but your partner/family to share this pride with you. It will seem like a lot of people consider pregnancy loss a ‘mishap’. They will feel sad for you, but to them it’s not like a life is lost. And maybe you can’t blame them either, because they never ‘experienced’ your child – i.e. they weren’t pregnant with it.
No one would wish me Happy Mother’s Day because it didn’t occur to them that I was a mother. Even if someone would have thought of my miscarriage, the whole topic would probably seem too painful to bring up. Of course, Mother’s Day is confrontational and does hurt to think about. But you know what hurts more? The feeling that I’m not seen as a mother. That I’m treated like parenthood is a level I haven’t reached yet.
Yes, my experience as a parent is only a shallow glimpse of what life is like for those who did give birth. There is so much my fiancé and I have yet to go through as parents. But our Poppy’s life started the exact same way as their healthy, living children’s lives… So, why wouldn’t we treat it like the same is lost?