Sunday, 10 March 2013

Reflections on Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day. 
Five years ago on Mother's Day 2008 I got my first positive pregancy test.  That November I gave birth to the most beautiful, amazing, bursting with life, baby boy, who has now grown into a beautiful, amazing, bursting with life 4yr old boy.  He is burgeoning with independence and self-assurance and although still needs lots of mummy time, he is definitely not a baby anymore.

I have loved being his mother and he has brought me more joy than I can say, but mother's day is also tinged with sadness for me.  I had always planned on having a large family, but here I am with one child.  Although we had no issues with conceiving our DS we are one of the large number of couples struggling with secondary infertility. 

This is not a blog about our fertility story although I probably need to give some background so you know where I'm coming from. When our son was 18 months old we started trying for a second baby.  Still breastfeeding quite a lot at that stage things didn't happen immediately so I began to tinker with our feeding pattern and eventually reduced feeds significantly and 8 months later we fell pregnant.  I was overjoyed.  We had a 9 week scan - all was fine.  We had a 12 week scan.  All was fine.  I even started to feel baby moving.  But just before 14 weeks I got a bad feeling and then the movement stopped.  At 16 weeks I had another scan where the nurse turned to me and said, "Can you see what I'm seeing?"  I nodded as the shock started to descend.  "I'm sorry.  There is no heartbeat," she continued.
I don't think I can explain to anyone who hasn't been through it how that feels.  The induced labour and birth of my 6 inch baby boy followed and finally surgery for a retained placenta.  Miscarriage is devestating.  I mean that in the truest sense of the word.  Devestating!  I felt broken.  I had gone through labour and had no baby.  My arms were empty.  We had our baby's body cremated and scattered somewhere with meaning for us.  Months of emotional pain followed.  I had an online support group who I owe so much too but I ached to be pregnant again.  We begain trying again.  I spent hundreds of hours online.  I tracked, I took supplements, I searched in vain for a reason for what was happening to me.
My DS was almost 3 now, and knew that we had lost a baby.  He began to ask when another baby would come.  He started to express his desire for a sibling and I could see that no matter how many friends he had or how many playdates I could organise, he wanted someone to play with at home.  I really wanted to give him that.  I still do.
A year later we conceived again.   I was delighted but nervous.  At 10 weeks I started spotting.  We had a scan - same story.  We had lost the baby.  After naturally passing the clearly identifiable baby and placenta I hoped I would be able to avoid intervention, but this time the sac had been retained.  After several weeks of waiting I again had to have intervention.  This time we chose burial in our garden.
That was 6 months ago.
We are still trying.

What I really want to do in this blog is to make you think about people's individual circumstances today.  Before becoming a mother I probably assumed that people with 1 child made a concious decision to have 1 child.  But that's not always the case.
When we meet someone new, there is the inevitable, "Do you only have one?" or "Is he your only one?" or any other form of that question.  For me - desperately wanting another, each time I'm asked it is like a stab in the chest. The "ONLY" word makes me feel that my one child status is substandard in some way, and each time it is a dreadful reminder of my loss and of what could have been.  How do I answer that?  I just say "Yes" and swallow my pain inside?  Do I say "yes, but I've had 2 babies that didn't make it"? - No one wants to hear that, but at least it is a recognition of their very short existance.  They did live - albeit for a short time.  Then I've made the other person feel uncomfortable.  Should I pretend it doesn't affect me?

My heart goes out to those who have primary infertility.  It really does.  I know that I am wonderfully blessed with my son.  I feel it every day.  But when he asks me when a baby will come, or when he talks about how he would like to have a baby sister, my heart breaks.  When he talks about the things he would like to teach her and how he wants to be able to tell her stories, give her kisses and tuck her into bed, my heart breaks.
When I see him standing on his own, wanting someone to play with, my heart breaks.  When I have to tell him that I don't know if he will have a baby sister, although I hope so some day, my heart breaks.  And when I think about the 2 siblings that he had that didn't make it, that he could be playing with, arguing with, and learning with - my heart breaks.

Today is mother's day.  Many of us are mothers but our babies aren't here with us.  Many of us feel like we are mothers, but have never had our own baby to hold.  Many of us have children, but long for another and have empty arms today.

Five years ago I got my first positive pregnancy test on Mother's day.  This year on Mother's day my body has confirmed another unsuccessful month.  I wish for all of us who are longing for a baby that next Mother's Day our new babies will be in our arms.

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