Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day Musings: Empty Arms

     [Photo credit CarlyMarie Photography]

To those with empty arms this Mother's Day: I'm thinking of you. I'm praying that God will wrap His arms of comfort around you and that you would feel His presence. You are not forgotten. On this day that serves as a reminder of what you DON'T have, let me assure you you are not alone. You are loved.

I was a child myself when I had my first child - I went straight from my parents house to my husband's (well, to his parents' house for that first few months). I confess I cannot relate to the devastation of not being a mother when you long for it so deeply.  I have been a mother far longer than I have known the value of it.

Because I know the value of motherhood I am able to empathize with the longing to have a child, the ache of empty arms.  I do, however, know what it means to try to conceive for years, yielding only negative pregnancy tests month after month. Grateful for the child I do have but longing for the one I have yet to hold. Cursing my body, my endometriosis, and myself - wondering what I have done wrong.

Not only is my own Mother living, I have TWO really wonderful Mother-in-Laws, AND 3 grandmothers (my mom's mom, my dad's mom, and my husband's mom's mom).  I do not know the grief of losing a parent (although I miss my Grandfather dearly).  I can only imagine how much one would miss their mother on this day.

I do know too well the all-consuming, heart-wrenching pain of losing a child. The joy in knowing there is a life growing inside of you. The love you can't stop yourself from feeling for that life. The pain of my heart physically breaking when each one is gone. The horror of going to the hospital in pain and awaking to find the doctor has removed the baby and the tube (ectopic).

The absolutely heart-stopping, life-changing moment my daughter is on the ultrasound screen - dead. No heartbeat, head crushed in due to a hemorrhage. The pain beyond-compare of delivering a dead baby, of holding her knowing you cannot leave the Birth Center with your child like all the other moms on the floor.

The overwhelming flood of pain and fear when the 2nd baby no longer has a heartbeat. The mixture of anger (over the lost baby) and appreciation (over the living one-Bruce) I feel each time I see twins.

My cup runneth over; I have FOUR precious children to kiss good-night. To play with, to pray with, to parent and to provide for. This does not remove the sting of loss. Each and every child is precious to me - there is no replacement for the ones I cannot hold.

Mother's Day makes my arms ache with emptiness for the babies I will never hold (here on Earth). I deeply and overwhelmingly love my children. Julia, Taylor, Dean, and Bruce give me great delight. I enjoy motherhood and my appreciation of the gift of my children is with me daily.  Being a Mommy is so much fun. It is rewarding and exhausting and beyond compare.  I am quite tired and stressed out these days, but I would never never never trade in my Mom title. (I could be talked into giving up my mom body though - stretch marks and all.)

However, there is a small part of me that cannot help but miss the others (there are 9).  This is generally the day I remember to miss them. Not to dwell on the grief but to acknowledge it is there. You never forget your losses but you do move forward - forever changed. My babies are always a part of me, of who I am, of how I parent, and of why I cry. So this day, I will allow myself to love them, be grateful for the time I had with them as their mother, and to miss them as well.

Here's to you - those who share in empty arms; I'd hug every one of you tonight if I could.

(All that said, I am opting for no guilt over always hating Mother's Day and finding myself more irritated than usual today by the extreme overwhelm I am feeling about life. I feel like I'm not allowed to feel stressed and frustrated but if I'm being honest I DO need a break from sky-high laundry, endless poopy diaper/underwear changes, and screaming children. I can both be grateful I have a home to clean AND be tired of cleaning it nonstop and the same time.)