So. Today is Mothers’ Day. A day when mothers around the world are feted, celebrated and fussed over by their husbands and/or children. Restaurants are packed, flower shops are sold out and your Facebook feed is filled with posts and pictures of your friends/acquaintances surrounded by their adoring children.
But things are different for you. Instead of smiles, tears wet your cheeks. Instead of joy, your heart is twisted with pain. You can’t celebrate Mother’s Day. You don’t have children. Not because you don’t want to … but because you can’t.
I know how you feel. I’ve been there.
Nine years ago, in 2008, I got a text on Mothers’ Day that nearly split my heart into two. It was from an old college friend, who I’d just reconnected with. The text itself was innocuous, standard Mothers’ Day fare. Something like:
“Your children will call you blessed …”
What she didn’t know was that I had just had a miscarriage, which I was still recovering from. I was almost 15 weeks pregnant in April, 2008 when I started having severe pain. My husband and I had just celebrated our first anniversary and we were both excited to grow our family. I’m the youngest of four daughters and the sixth of seven children. Throughout my childhood, I’d had an affinity for children and I grew up wanting a houseful, a large family just like the one I was raised in.
I wanted to have children right away, but my husband was content to wait a little. When I got pregnant nine months after our wedding, I was overjoyed.
Yes! Finally! It looked as if all my dreams were coming true.
I couldn’t wait to become a mother. That little plus sign on the pregnancy test held a world of possibilities. Looking at it made me happy, so much so that I tucked it away in a little corner of my bathroom drawer. It was a reminder. A token. A symbol of the joy that I carried in my heart.
Until that day in April, 2008.
My husband and I had gone out for an anniversary dinner on April 21st. Shortly after, I started having severe cramps. It felt like period pain, amplified a thousand times. I woke up early the next morning and water gushed out of me, soaking my pajamas. I remember seeing a pinkish tinge and thinking to myself: “This can’t be good.”
So, we called our OB/GYN and she asked us to come in immediately. I had an ultrasound and even I could see that something was wrong with the baby. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I went into pre-term labor and our son was born at 15 weeks.
I still see him clearly. The tiny body curled in the stainless steel bowl.
He looked perfect. He was perfect. He was also dead.
Oh. My heart. If ever a heart could break, mine broke that day. My son! My son! My son!
I wept. I wailed. I screamed. I raged at God. At my husband. At life.
Then, I learned how to live with pain.
It was the hardest, hardest, hardest thing I have ever done. Moving on from the depression and the pain. But, I learned something during those dark days.
I learned that I could live with a broken heart. And I learned that I could still love a God who didn’t say ‘Yes’ to all my prayers.
But, it was a process. A very long process. So, when I got that text from my friend on Mothers’ Day, it ripped open the barely-healed scars. My wound bled again and the pain was revived. I couldn’t celebrate Mothers’ Day. My dream of motherhood had been destroyed, my son ripped from my body by circumstances outside my control.
So, while others danced, I cried. While they basked in the love of their children, I hid myself in my room and wondered if I would ever become a mother.
Fast forward nine years later, and my Mothers’ Day experience is drastically different. I have three children, who adore me, and I adore them in return. Now, pictures of me surrounded by my adoring kids may be one of those flooding your timeline.
But, I haven’t forgotten. I haven’t forgotten what it feels like to weep when others laugh. I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to dream of holding your own child in your arms.
If you find it tough to celebrate Mothers’ Day, I know how you feel. The tears will come and pain will sting, but hold fast to hope. And as you do, don’t forget that there’s more to life than having children. Find the bigger purpose, find the thing that will keep you going and embrace it.
And maybe, just maybe, your pictures will flood my timeline next Mothers’ Day.
Then again, maybe not. Many women are dealing with infertility to an extent that they may never have natural children. Some may decide to grow their families through adoption and some may not. I don’t have all the answers, but I know someone who does.
God has a plan for you, whether you have children or not. Talk to him today, and trust him with your future.