When your child dies, you don’t stop being a parent.
There is a trending tag in social media right now, #thisismotherhood.
This tag is usually accompanied by photos of mothers with their children, and statuses describing one or many of the difficulties that comes with being a mother. While I think this is a great movement, I can’t help but notice that there is a certain kind of mother that is not represented in these hashtags.
It’s the sort of mother I am, a mother with no living children.
My only child, a son, was born still at 38 weeks 5days. My husband and I delivered our son in the hospital, we held him, we named him. We fell so deeply in love with him on the day he was born, like all parents do.
We experienced all the things that most parents do, the only difference is that we didn’t get to take our son home.
Instead, our journey of parenting began with searches for answers, with long talks with doctors. It began with calls and arrangements, with meetings at funeral homes. It involved picking out a cemetery plot, designing a headstone.
Parenthood began with grief, and it continues with grief.
Despite what many people seem to believe, when your child dies, you don’t stop being a parent. Just like my son doesn’t stop being my son. We are tied, we are family, forever. Motherhood for me involves caring for my son’s resting place, it involves talking about his life. It involves tending to and nursing his memory daily, rather than his physical body. My motherhood looks different from the average motherhood. Motherhood for me is having to defend my motherhood, when people try to strip it from me for having empty arms.
I am an invisible mother, and this is motherhood.
This is motherhood, too.