Everyone rushes to assure me I am a mother. That I am still, or that I was the moment I got pregnant. They trip all over themselves to refute my opinion.

I don’t think I am. Rather, I do not view myself as a “mother.”

Being a mother entails having a child to raise. It entails parenting. My son is in heaven. He is not here with me. He is not here with my husband. We do not get to raise him. We do not get to teach him about cows and rapier and guns and archery and music and country life. We do not get to show him how to be a good man and a kind person. We do not get to see him off on his first day of Kindergarten, we do not get to cheer him on at Little League games. We do not get any of it. No baby clothes, no lullabies, no hugs and kissing of boo-boos. No family pictures for Christmas letters, no pictures of first dates and graduations. Nothing.

I am not a mother, and merely getting myself pregnant does not make me one. Is the woman who gets pregnant and gives her baby up for adoption a mother? The woman who eventually gets an abortion? If mere pregnancy is the sole criteria for being a mother, then I think we need to seriously redefine the criteria. Being a mother is more than being a baby-incubator, just like being a father is more than being a sperm donor. Being a parent is time, love, educating your child. It is caring for that child, and helping gently mold them into the best person they can be. It is being their role model, being their guide through this crazy rollercoaster ride called life.

My son is dead, and with him, those opportunities for “motherhood.” I am merely a woman who wanted to be a mom, but never got the chance. I had the most wonderful pregnancy a woman could ask for, but that’s the end of it.

God still refuses to answer my prayers to take away my desire for children, to help me through the pain and the fear. I don’t know why or for what purpose. No matter how much I beg and plead and cry and pray and wish to go back to being the girl I was before I held that positive pregnancy test — the girl who was ambivalent about the idea of children — the terrible ache for the things I see every woman around me enjoying remains. Even going on a month and a half later, when the hormones are fading and I am supposed to be “healed” and “normal,” I still long to be what I am not. He, in His infinite wisdom, has seen fit to ignore me. So I muddle my way through each breath of each minute of each hour of each day, fighting to make sense of my identity. Fighting the resentment when it seems like every woman in the free world is pushing a stroller. Fighting the jealousy when I see a new mother with her newborn. Fighting the nightmares that highlight what I’ve lost. Fighting the lingering fears and doubts of “did I truly do everything right?” Fighting, always fighting to regain the person I used to be, but who eludes me.

I do not grieve for the son I lost, because he is safe and happy and cared for in heaven. I know this. I believe this deep in my soul.

I grieve because I am not a mother. I grieve for opportunities lost. I grieve for my stolen sense of identity, for the theft of my innocence, my hope, and my sense of security.

I grieve for the dream that lies shattered. I am not a mom, and please don’t tell me I’m something that I’m not.


11 thoughts on “Not a Mom

  1. You may not be a mother here…and I understand your reasoning, but if you could ask your son…he would disagree, because a true mother, loves her child, and you did, and still do. I do not say this, to upset you, and forgive me if I cause any pain, not my intention to do so, I tell you these things, because I had a mother, who was never a mother to me, not from the moment I was born, until I escaped her, at the age of 14, when rescued by my father…that woman, that gave birth to me, never deserved that title…but in my eyes, you do, because you loved your son, and you always will…that is a mother to me.

  2. I’m so sorry you have to go through this, it is awful and nothing I can say can change how awful it is. Maybe it helps a tiny bit that a stranger on the other side of the world wishes you and your husband all the very best, future joy and peace and all the strength you need while you travel this difficult path to find them again.

  3. You have every right to feel what you do. I hate this for you.

    Maybe this isnt the time or place to say this. When my son ben was born, he was 2 lbs 10 oz. And very sick. When I was rushed at ohsu in portland for an emergency c section, I wolk later I had to ask ron if he made it. He did but over time i could tell he would not be like everyone elses child. And I had a lot of resentment about that.
    I have no idea what you are going though, and i hste that you have to go though this. I do know the death of a dream of a child that never would be the son I dreamed of. He is still here but I was bitter for a very long time. I prayed and prayed but the bitterness didn’t go away. Then one day I looked for the bitterness and it was gone. I couldn’t find it any more. But without the bitterness I have to move on to acceptance and that couldn’t happen until I was able to talk with other families that had been though the similar experience.
    Its a process, and a rollercoaster ups and downs and two steps forward and three back. You have every right to feel what you feel. I continue to pray everyday for you.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Sherri.

      It definitely IS a rollercoaster ride — I keep hoping that the ups and downs will even out here soon because I just feel emotionally sick with the constant jerking around…

      I like your point that you couldn’t move into acceptance without being able to talk about your experience. That’s why I’m writing, that’s why I’m trying very hard to not hole up under my little rock and bury it. Because that would be so, soooo easy to do…! But the urge to talk, to write, to get it OUT is stronger, plus, I always seem to feel *better* after… So I hope that one day I can look back on this nightmare and have it not hurt so bad and be okay with it, because I really do not relish hurting like this for the rest of my life (like some of the literature says I can expect)!

      Thank you for the prayers. 🙂

      1. I love your writing, singing but most of all your honesty. You keep it up and get it out!!!!!

  4. Alannah, you hit the nail on the head. This is what I have been trying to explain to Heather. Thanks you for your words. Heather is my only child and I feel her pain deeply as it is mine as well.

    Heather, God has great things in store for you. You just can’t see that yet. Be open to it…it will come in time…God’s time. You will be blessed with children, maybe more than you can imagine…just give it time. God hasn’t let any of your dreams die yet. He just had more important things in store for Michael. And believe me, Michael has kept those parents dreams alive. Feel proud that your son has saved lives, even though he has given his own for the cause. You are a mother in every sense of the word. It is life changing whether you have the child with you or not. You will never be the same again…being a mother does that to you. You are standing in my shoes now. Look around…it’s a completely different perspective from here. All those things you had different views on before you were pregnant have changed. You are now able to see the whole world for what it is…not just one half of it like before. Accept God’s will and you will be blessed again. God will give you peace in time…but you have to stop fighting him first.

    I love you and will always love you, just like you will always love Michael. Realize that your pain has spared numerous other people of the pain of losing their children, thanks to Michael. I’m sure in God’s eyes, you are strong enough to handle it and that is why he chose you for this task. How many times have you said, “I wish I could take away their pain”? Well, you have. Feel proud, Heather. Those parents may not know you, but believe me, they are grateful for your sacrifice. I wish you could see them or meet them…one day, you will.

  5. I am guilty of being one of those people who tried to give you comfort in saying you were indeed a mom, tho briefly, thinking that would help lesson the pain, not knowing it would only increase it. For that I am sorry. People mean well and don’t mean to hurt someone who is in pain. You have made a valid point and something to be remembered. Thank you for sharing your side.

    1. Don’t feel guilty, Teeny. It’s just that I don’t understand the reasoning. To me, being a Mom is like a job description — if you aren’t actively doing the job, then you aren’t a Mom…

      But slowly, I’m getting explanations out of people about what they mean when they say “you are still a Mom, even though Michael died” (or any of the variants). I’m slowly getting answers, and I’m slowly beginning to see where everyone else is coming from. Which is what I wanted: discussion and insight.

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