My dear friend lost her child this week. She was 17 weeks pregnant and already every bit as much of a mother that I aspire to be each day.
I'm not interested in getting into a discussion on when life begins. I will tell you though that for me motherhood began when I started making choices for myself based on my baby. It was when you'd find yourself turning down that glass of wine because you 'never know', when you'd opt for cheddar instead of Gorgonzola 'just because' and when you could actually summon a smile when requesting decaf. It's when old wives tales would have you taking warm showers instead of soaking in hot baths. It's when you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, yet you still catch yourself rubbing your bump on the subway. Motherhood is instinctual, it is primal, and no matter how long it lasts, be it 1 week, 17 weeks, 3 years or until the end of your time on earth, it is with you forever.
In the 9 months before the rest of the world meets your baby, you are likely already best friends. You walk together, talk together, you do a lot of peeing and perhaps puking together. And, if it walks like a duck, waddles like a duck...well, it's already a mother.
It almost feels as though the actual 'having a baby' is when the rest of the world is let in on the joy but the private pleasures of motherhood begin way before. Nobody else in the whole world felt my daughter kick the first time. No one. And nothing can ever take that away from me.
It is this realization that makes me feel so strongly in the acknowledgment of the pain that mothers feel when losing their babies early on. Today, my heart is broken for my friend and I can only imagine that her ache is just as real and painful as if I lost my Olive tomorrow. Grief is surely just as much about the loss of what memories you didn’t make, as well as as mourning the ones you remember.
In fact, I felt a bit like I was running an egg and spoon race when I was pregnant, or playing a giant game of Jenga...if that makes any sense. The longer you go, the giddier you get and yet just seeing the finish line didn't hold any guarantees. It was my constant focus. Utterly all consuming.
Today was a reminder of not only what a gift life is but just how cruel it can be. My heart and prayers are full of love and strength to mothers today, no matter where your children are.