I had two stints in the hospital, pregnant with Mabel. The first was a long weekend to determine why I had no fluid (her kidneys weren’t working) and meeting with specialists to determine her prognosis (poor). The second was the final two weeks of my pregnancy for monitoring- it was supposed to be longer, but she had her own ideas and labor started weeks before my planned induction.
Both times I had my nurses, doctors and midwives visit me on a daily basis, mostly just for talking because there wasn’t much more they could do. I essentially monitored myself, ensuring my baby was on the monitor when she was supposed to be, and the rest was just watching. I had many conversations about the direness of my situation, often crying about how unfair it was that this was happening to my first child, my only child. (not that losing a second or third or forth child is any easier!). I think I was lamenting not only the future loss of my baby, but the loss of the identity I was supposed to be taking- would I be a mother? I thought if only I had a child,I would at least (there are those darn words I dislike so much!) know that I would be a mother.
I’m not sure who it was trying to reassure me, but I heard a few times, perhaps from a few different people- “Just think, if you had a kid at home, you’d be struggling with caring for that child and this one.” At the time, I said, “you’re right,” trying to focus on things to be grateful for- that my only responsibility was me and this child.
This memory came back to me recently and it angers me. Of course whoever the speakers were, their intentions were nothing but good- trying to find a silver living, to help me find some gratitude. I am grateful that my decisions for Mabel were uncolored by any other life circumstances- they were made soley for her and us as a little family of three. But I think I respectfully disagree. I do wish I had another child. It wouldn’t make the pain of losing Mabel and less, but it would let me feel like the mother I so badly wish I could be.
(Disclaimer: I know having living children through loss comes with its own set of struggles. I in no way mean to say that having living children makes it easier- I’m sure in some ways it makes it harder. My only intention is to highlight how I still feel like I don’t quite belong in either world- the mothers and the not mothers. )
Do you have flashbacks to little details? Do you struggle with your identity as a mother?