There is a fantastic post over at Feminist Mormon Housewives about Mother’s Day for the Motherless and Infertile. Mother’s Day has been a very painful day for me for a long time, but not, fortunately, because I’m motherless. In fact, I have a plethora of mothers. Let me tell you about them.
First there’s my Mom. She loves me so much that she carried me the two extra months when I refused to enter this earth. She even loves me so much that when she finally did go into labour on December 7th, she kept begging for me not to be born on Pearl Harbour Day. I granted her desire, popping out on the 8th to say hello. She’s encouraged me in every pursuit. She indulged my book habit. She made fun of me when I needed to be made fun of, and laughed at my smart-alecky comments when I was a kid. We had some strain as I hit my teenage years, but what mother-daughter pair doesn’t? I’ve been proud of her all my life. She sets her focus on what she wants, and she goes out and makes it happen. She was the first female certified latent fingerprint examiner in the state of Georgia. She has her Ph.D. She has taught high school and college. She has published numerous books, including fiction and non-fiction. She loves me. And I love her.
Then there’s the Monster. You know, the wicked step-monster of fairy tale fiction. Well, not so much with the wicked, although we had a good stretch where we cordially disliked each other. I’m not sure when that began to change. I know that we both made efforts to overcome it, because obviously we were going to be part of each other’s lives whether we wanted to or not. She loves my Dad with all her heart, and I appreciate that. And she hides a soft, mushy heart under what can be a stern and off-putting exterior. I’m pleased to tell you that not only do I love her, I really like her.
My sweet mother-in-law is older than my other mothers. Where I was the oldest of 3 that my mother gave birth to, my husband is the 5th of 6 children. She has the softest heart I’ve ever encountered, and she loves all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I haven’t gotten to spend as much time with her as I’d have liked to, since we’ve lived far away ever since we’ve been married. When we are together, I see her loving tenderness towards all the family.
And now that I’ve told you about my mothers, let me tell you about my children. I know, I know. I don’t have any. Well, that’s not strictly true. See, for several years before the IVF in 2000, I knew that I was going to have a pair of twins, a boy and a girl. And I knew what their names were going to be. I was actually nervous about my son’s name, because I felt that his first name would be the name of my husband’s birth father rather than his step-father. I’ve never met Joe’s birth father. He passed away before I came into the family. And Joe didn’t necessarily have real great memories of him. So how could I tell my husband that I wanted to name our son after his father? So I kept proposing different names, and one day while we were in the car, Joe asked me a question. “What,” he said, “if I know our son’s name and you don’t?” I immediately said that he was the priesthood holder and the head of our family, and I would follow his inspiration in that matter. Then he told me that he felt our son’s first name should be his father’s name. I felt completely awed. When I told him what I’d been thinking, we were both very deeply moved.
So since I’d known for several years that I was going to have twins, a boy and a girl, I went into that IVF with perfect faith. I never, at any time, doubted that I would get pregnant and would have those twins. Even when it turned out only 3 eggs were viable, after my initial distress I calmed down. I only needed 2. And even when they were only able to transfer 2 embryos, I was okay with that. Because 2 were all I needed. Things were great for a few days, but I knew by the time I had to go back for my pregnancy test that I’d lost the babies. The test results confirmed my knowledge, and as I’ve said before, I was never able to try again before having to have a hysterectomy.
In the days and weeks after the loss of my two little ones, I was searching everything I could find for an official church stance on miscarriages. Because in my mind, it was a miscarriage. They may not have had a whole lot of cells, but they were growing for a few days. And I knew them so well. And I couldn’t find anything that brought comfort. I prayed and prayed and wept and prayed and wept some more. And I had the impression from the Holy Ghost that those two children would not be coming to me on the earth, but that they were waiting for us beyond the veil, and I am their mother and will still get to raise them. I asked Joe if he had felt that. He said that he hadn’t, but the Spirit bore witness to him that I was correct.
So every now and then I get to feel the presence of my children’s spirits with me. Not often, and not for long, and it always leaves me in a puddle of tears because I so much long for them. One of my best friends had her last son a few months before Tad and Ellie would have been born, and every year when T. gets another year older, I get a pang, thinking of where Tad and Ellie would have been, what they’d be like, what we’d be doing together as a family.
And that’s why I have such a hard time on Mother’s Day. Even writing this I’m sitting here crying. And I know that my heart will be so full on Sunday that I’m not quite sure how to handle it. I’m going to church. I want to. But I may have to spend sacrament meeting sitting in the foyer. I hope that’s okay. I’m not sitting there hating Mother’s Day because I don’t have children or because I don’t have a mother. Mother’s Day hurts because I do have children, but they’re not here. They’re not anywhere on the planet that I could go to and hold them in my arms and hear them call me Mother.
If you see me on Sunday and I’m crying or teary, you don’t have to worry about not knowing what to say. Just smile at me, give me a hug, let me play with your baby’s feet, let me cry if I need to, and just love me.