This piece originally appeared at ModernLoss.com under the title “Call Me A Mother.” Understandably, it was edited and trimmed down. Here are my musings on my losses and what the hell to call me, in full ramble.
“What’s on your mind?” asked Facebook.
The empty box sat there. Staring at me. Prompting me to say something. Do you say something? What do you say? Who are you now?
Mother’s Day, 2014. Not seven days earlier my husband and I lost our first baby. Perhaps we should zoom further back.
My husband and I got married on 3/10/13 (I have a thing for numbers). The moment we got married, the questions started. When are you going to get pregnant? Are you pregnant?
We decided that after a short 11 months of knowing each other before we got married that we would take a year of “just us” time before we started trying for a family. I would tell everyone who asked me “my husband demanded a year of marital bliss first” and that seemed to work. But after our first anniversary, the voices got louder.
On 4/4/14 (see, numbers) I found out that we were expecting our first child. Welp, that was easy, I thought. Until a month later when I started bleeding and cramping… On 5/5, the loss of our baby was confirmed at almost 8 weeks. On 5/7 I had a D&C (dilation and curettage) surgery to complete the process. On 5/11, Mother’s Day, I felt bombarded.
Beautiful babies and proud mommies filled my newsfeed. “Thanks to my baby girl for making me a mom!” “Happy Mother’s Day to the amazing moms I know!”
The whole week prior I just wanted to crawl under a rock. I stared listlessly at the tv screen and computer, unable to rally myself to any action. But something about Mother’s Day made me want to speak out. So, for the first time, I told the world (aka my Facebook friend feed) that I was a mom. For only 8 weeks, I carried a baby in my belly but I still felt like a mom.
Fast forward through the doctors’ visits and the “actually it happens to one in four women” conversations, my husband and I were lucky to get pregnant again. We found out the day after my husband’s birthday, 6/25. But by 8/15, we found out that we had lost our baby again, this time at nearly 12 weeks.
By now I feel like a mother, though I’ve never held my babies in my arms. But what would society call me? They don’t seem to see me as a mother because they’ve never seen me push a stroller down the street. Someone close to me, who also lost a baby, said to me one day, “you know, they have a word for when you lose your parents and they have a word for when you lose your spouse but what do you call a parent who has lost a child?” She had brilliantly encapsulated exactly how I felt that Mother’s Day, staring at the Facebook prompt “what’s on your mind?”
WHAT AM I?
And it seems I’m not alone. There are numerous articles and questions floating around the internet about this. One in particular struck me. A woman, who lost her 19-year-old son, titled her blog “Always A Mom Of Four.” I know that even though my sweet babies were lost before I met them, I am now a mom to two and my future (G-d willing) children, will know of their siblings lost. Why? Because that is life and it’s our reality.
But again, what do you call me? Some circles have started using the Sanskrit word “Vilomah.” It literally means, “against a natural order” and not entirely out of the blue to use since the origin of the word widow is also Sanskrit. Some use the Greek, “Tethligons,” which means, “bereaved parent.” In Hebrew we have, “sh’khol” (שכול) and perhaps that is the word I am searching for. There doesn’t seem to be an English equivalent. It is often translated to “bereavement” but that is not accurate. It is an adjective used in relation to the loss of a young family member, thus for a child. So that would make me שכולה אם – em shakula – a mother who lost her child(ren).
But really, I just want you to call me a mother and respect the journey I’ve been through. Not to trivialize my loss since they weren’t born or to tell me I’ll have that same kid another time. Not to tell me my feelings aren’t real since I never met the babies. To respect my unfortunate expertise here.
Oh and please don’t call on 12/13 or 3/3. Those will always be important dates for me (their due dates) but, this year at least, I will probably be staying under the covers with my puppy and husband, avoiding all Facebook prompts.