Losing our son was the single worst experience of my entire life. Losing our daughter was a little easier. Miscarrying our third seemed almost routine. They have all been hard, but with each loss, I’ve also lost more and more of my hope and optimism. My motto of “keep moving forward” is getting harder and harder to follow. It gets harder every day to believe that I may someday get to be the mother I’ve always wanted to be.
It doesn’t matter how much time you’ve had with your child, every loss simply sucks. But to have three losses back to back to back in a matter of ten months has caused us to compare and contrast each one. Obviously losing our son was the hardest, because we lost him a week before his due date. The nursery was all set up, we had more supplies than we probably needed, and the carseat was already secured and ready for him. We were blindsided. We were ready to love and then were suddenly left with nowhere to direct that love. We had to decide what funeral home to use and where to have him buried and when to have the service. We had to pick out clothes to bury him in. We had to see him one last time and say goodbye.
With our daughter, the loss wasn’t quite as sudden. We found out at fourteen weeks that she had swelling in her lymphatic system, then found out a few days later that she had Trisomy 13. We found out that same day that she was a girl. An ultrasound with the specialist a few days later showed growth in the swelling, and a confirmation that we would likely lose her sooner rather than later. We chose to do a D&C, just to get it over with, and the recovery was easy. The first funeral home we called could do a cremation for us, and it didn’t take much thought to know we wanted to spread her ashes on her brother’s grave. We hadn’t even bought anything for her.
Finding out we were pregnant the third time was a complete surprise. I went in for a follow up ultrasound for an ovarian cyst, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that the cyst had gone, but a baby had appeared. We hadn’t expected to get pregnant that quickly, but we felt like maybe it was meant to be. Unlike our second pregnancy, we let ourselves get excited from the very beginning. They always say “third time’s the charm” and we knew it was applicable then. At least until I went to the bathroom five days later and found that I was bleeding.
We got to see our baby’s heartbeat one last time that day. It was still so strong. We never got to hear it, but at least we got to see it again.
In comparison, you’d think the third loss would have been the easiest, and in some ways, it has. But after stacking three losses on top of each other, it feels a bit like I’m drowning and can’t get my head above water. I read stories of parents that lock their children in the trunks of their cars, or in basements. Parents that abuse their children or leave their babies to die in plastic bags. It makes me wonder why the hell these people get to be parents when they clearly don’t deserve to be. Why can’t we, the mothers who would love our babies to no end, be parents instead of those people? Why can’t we have these babies instead, and save them from a life of hurt?
I know I am not the only one that has lost more than one baby. And I know there are women who have lost one or a few, only to be told that they should not or cannot try for a baby anymore. That’s shitty, and it’s unfair. Every pregnant woman we see is like a punch to the gut. Not that you aren’t excited for them, but I know you can’t help but wonder why they are worthy and you are not.
But here’s the thing, sweet mama. You are worthy. All of us in this loss community are worthy. It’s not hard to tell that you are, and always have been, a mother at heart. You care for people, you are kind to people, and you have more than enough love to spread around. No one would deny that you are meant to be a mother, and no one would deny that you already are. Whether you had a few gestational weeks, a few minutes on Earth with your baby, or just dreams to one day get pregnant, you are still a mother. The love you have for the child you lost or the child that has yet to come to you will never go away, and that’s what makes you a mother.
It takes a special, strong kind of person to love their babies from afar, and to love them so fiercely, when all you have is their memory. You love them as much as any mother loves her child; it is shown through your words, your actions, and the way you allow yourself to remember them.
I know it feels like you are drowning. Every brick that gets laid on top of you makes life heavier, and makes it harder to want to live through. But you can do it, mama. It won’t be easy, and the hurt will never go away, but mothers are the strong, and loss moms are even stronger. Keep going. You don’t have to do it for yourself, but do it for your children. I know, after all, that they are your reason for everything.