Recently a woman I know split up from her significant other. The gist of their break-up was that he realized she was not "the one." As we talked about how she was doing, her anger was understandable. I have been there before and I know the hurt I felt as someone I cared about told me it was not to be. The difference between my experience and hers, though, is that we did not have a child together. The longer we talked the more I implored her to think of her child and remember that her actions would have a direct consequence on the baby. But the thing that struck me the most was that while she expressed feelings of failure and frustration towards herself for not being able to provide a full family for her child, she also said that it would be better off if her child was never born. I won't go into all of the specifics of our conversation, but suffice it to say she was serious and simultaneously felt bad for her child while also feeling that its presence would make her life difficult in certain ways.
The therapist in me recognized the difficult situation she was now in and the hurt she was feeling. The mother in me was shocked and angry with her for saying something so flippant. I wanted to say "you don't mean that" but before I had a chance to she expressed the frustration she felt towards others who tried to tell her that her child was the best thing to come out of the relationship and that she should focus on the positive and be grateful but she felt that it was "not true. I meant what I said." At that point I honestly wanted to tell her to get out of my house. I kept my mouth shut as part of me still felt like she didn't mean it and I didn't want to add to the drama or my own hurt at having heard that.
Over the past few of years I have been exposed to the world of child loss and the grief that parents feel when a child is lost in someway. I know people who have had a child pass away. I know parents that have struggled to conceive a child for years. And then there are parents who choose to terminate a pregnancy, mothers who choose adoption (and either lose their biological child or have their chance at a child taken away after investing their hearts in one), and parents who for a number of reasons have children who are alive but are not in their lives. When you are not able to experience the life and growth of your child for any reason, it is one of the most painful things a parent can go through. There is no end to the pain. And while every parent may not feel that pain on the same level of intensity, to say such harsh things, as the woman I know did, may have farther reaching consequences that beyond their own self.
Little Guy was not our first rodeo. The pain I felt at anniversaries of loss was something I had to suffer in relative silence. I have had some support through the years, but it is still difficult. Difficult to think about a child that could have been. Difficult to hear people say "well when you are a mother you will understand." Difficult to hear "I wish it was never born." And difficult as I prayed all throughout my pregnancy with Little Guy that nothing would happen again.
This morning, as I looked down at a smiley, healthy baby I thought about my own loss and the loss other mother's I know have suffered. I hugged him, kissed him, and told him I loved him. He was worth the wait and I am incredibly grateful for the chance to be his mother. Because of the loss I suffered I will never wish he had never been born. I will do my best to appreciate every moment with him (both good and bad) because every moment is short, one day I will not be able to easily fix his distress (or he may not want me to), and not all women get the chance to love their children in the flesh.
So moms everywhere, know that you are loved, appreciated, and supported today and everyday.