Last year, right before Mother's Day, I wrote a blog post. One I loved. One I never published.
Today, I muster the courage to do what I couldn't bring myself to do a year ago.
May 5, 2009
Mother Nature's Day
Three years ago, I was mere days from what was supposed to be my first due date. It would have been a lovely time to give birth to my first girl (yes, I knew it was a girl), a few days shy of Mother's Day. But, alas, Mother Nature had other plans.
I had gotten pregnant so easily, on that very first try. And I was both nonchalant and thrilled. We'd seen the heartbeat at seven weeks. Things looked good. At ten weeks, two weeks short of that proverbial safety zone, I broke down and spread the good news. Ever the modern woman, I announced via email: I was expecting! Now I was among the very first of my friends to go the baby route, so people were surprised and excited and showered us with congratulations. I lapped up the well-wishes.
One week later, Husband and I moseyed into my OB's office for our next checkup. In the waiting room, I waited, giddy with anticipation to get another picture of our baby. I flipped through baby name books. I peed in a cup like a good girl. And when the nice nurse called my name, I hopped up and followed her back to our little room.
And even though I was trapped in the fog of my own excitement, I remember my doctor's face and how it turned that ominous shade of white as she ran that wand over my belly.
There was no heartbeat.
Utter surprise. Anger. Devastation. Embarrassment. I got to go home and send another email. An update.
At the time, I was so mad at myself for jumping that good old gun. But, now, I look back and think: sending that email was one of the best mistakes I've ever made. Why? Because my pain was raw and real and good friends knew about it. And, no, they didn't know what to say (because no one ever does), but they helped me through.
Today, covered in my second baby's spit up, I can talk about my miscarriage without shedding a tear. Of course it was sad. And still is. But Mother Nature had her way and things are okay now. Better than okay. I have two little girls. My two little girls.
But back then, I felt confused and alone. I didn't know miscarriages happened all of the time, even to young and healthy women. Why? Because no one talked about it.
So, here I am, talking about it. Why?
Because one of my best friends just texted me that her epidural is in and she is about to welcome her first girl. Because my third Mother's Day as a mom is coming up. Because Toddler just handed me the stunning and sweet card above. Because this is life. Because words, however impulsively uttered, or clumsily expressed, can be cathartic. And helpful. And true.
And maybe, like I did when I sent that first email three-plus years ago, I will regret this. And regret it deeply. And knowing me, I probably will. I will file it away as another big, bad cyber-mistake.
But I have a feeling that this too will prove one of the best mistakes I have ever made.
Yesterday was Mother's Day 2010. Husband was in North Carolina attending his sister's business school graduation. He returns this morning. Yesterday, my girls and I had an amazing day. We spent the morning in pajamas watching cartoons. We had a turkey bacon breakfast on the deck. The sun was bright and the wind was bold. We ended up at my own Mom's house for dinner. The day was good. Because I was here. In my Now.
With my girls.
Today, as I reread my words from one year ago, I am able to go back. To the heavy silence that should have housed a heartbeat. To the suffocating confusion. To the sting of goodbye and its inscrutable aftermath. Today, I reread my words and forgive myself - and fully - for not publishing them when I first wrote them. Because I wasn't ready. Today, I reread my words and am struck by a realization, at once simple and far from it, that blogging and parenting and living? These things take constant courage. To put selves and sentences out there. To tell our stories, little and big. To love our creatures even when they are ideas in our brains and cells in our bodies. To love them unconditionally once they are here. To move through our days with an appreciation of their simultaneous fragility and force.
All of these things take courage.
Today, I am struck by another realization too. That it is so important that we do just these things.
That we allow ourselves to tell our stories - divine and difficult - on blogs or in private. That we talk. That we reveal the suffering and struggle that do not need to be kept secret. That we permit ourselves to acknowledge the stuff, the hard stuff, that unites us. If we let it.
That we parent with open wounds. Open minds. Open hearts.
That we live consciously and creatively and courageously, embracing our heartaches along with our happy days, revering the fact that all of these things, all of them, comprise the lives we are lucky to lead.
So, today. Today I follow through on last year's vows.
Today, I talk. I tell.
I have two girls whom I love impossibly. Fiercely. But once upon a time, I was expecting a different girl. One who didn't make it. And today, as I sit here flanked by the two blue-eyed girls who did, so healthy and so happy, I am ready to talk about it. Because it happened. It did. To me. And maybe to you or someone you know?
This year, I got a new card. A few, actually. The first was a beautiful card Toddler made at Preschool with the help of her wonderful teachers. I am struck by the joyful candy apple green, the imperfect globs of glitter. The purple glitter. Purple is her very favorite color.
And inside, there are words. Words that Toddler dictated. Inside, it says: Dear Mommy, I love you because you are fun. I love playing with you and getting ice cream together.
And then. This morning, as per Husband's instructions from afar, the girls and I opened the gift he left. In the box, there were two little cards on top.
One from Baby. Full of artful scribbling, a regal red heart, and the outline of a chubby eighteen-month-old hand.
And one from Toddler. Decked in whimsical watercolor swirls, the outline of a three-year-old hand, a rectangle of paper ornamented with scissor cuts, and more words. Dictated this time to Daddy. I love you so much. Words a certain little girl whispers in my ear countless times a day.
And last, but not least, there was a card from Husband. A card that made me giggle. It has a little arrow-toggle-thing on the side and when you rotate it, the Wife's tee-shirt changes from Hottie to...
...#1 Mom to...
And I'm not sure whether I qualify as that Hottie/#1 Mom/Super Mom hybrid, but boy oh boy do I try.
I hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day. I wish you all the courage to show your cards and tell your stories.
[This post was inspired by the Courage topic of Momalom's Five for Ten. Click over today and tomorrow to find links to many more posts about courage and to learn more about how you too can participate in this wonderful writing challenge.]
- How did you spend your Mother's Day?
- Did you give or receive any particularly meaningful or amusing cards?
- Do you have any stories that you have a hard time mustering the courage to tell? Any blog posts you love that you haven't been able to publish?
- Have you or those close to you kept quiet about a pregnancy until twelve weeks? Why or why not?
- Do you agree that many of the most important things in life take continuous courage?