Wishing you courage

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying 'I will try again tomorrow'."
- Mary Anne Radmacher

Thursday, July 15, 2010

How does a babylost mama mother?

The women around me who are newly pregnant with their second children really have me on edge lately.  Now, I know that I don't have to discuss babies, or pregnancy with them and it's ok to even avoid them entirely, but the levels of poor self-worth and the number of self-judgments are getting out of control.

I'm reading about mudita which is the ability to be truly happy for the good things that happen to other people and I'll write more about it soon because it is good stuff, but the point that sticks with me most right now is this:

The happiness and joy that others experience does not lessen the happiness and joy that I experience.

There is not a limited amount of joy that all inhabitants of the world must share; joy is not a resource that we have to compete for.


I was walking behind someone who I suspect is pregnant with her second baby, kind of critiquing her outfit (short skirt with tennis shoes), then wondering how she has such muscular calves when she has a child under 2.  And that is how quickly self-judgments happen!  She has a beautiful family and shapely legs while I have no family and am struggling with my weight.  I made myself feel inadequate by comparing my life to hers - she did nothing!

Then I remembered "her joy does not diminish my joy", and that really did make me feel better :)

Then the train of thought jumped to thinking about what it would be like to mother a child and then I remembered that because I had a son I am a mother, but the action of mothering a missing baby is very different than caring for a living child.

What does a babylost mama do to mother her missing baby?  Are there any tangible mothering activities?

Here's what I do:
1.  I raise money and walk in the March for Babies.  This is something that I do to remind people that Toren existed, raise awareness that sometimes - too many times - pregnancies do not end with a new member of the family, and to help prevent future parents from bringing home a memory box instead of a live baby.

2.  I let Toren know he is loved.  Ok, this isn't so tangible.  I don't know what happens after death.  Heaven?, reincarnation?, nothing? - this is just a question that is too big for me, but I know what personal mix of these gives me comfort so that is what I go with.  Anyway, believing that Toren's soul is out there somewhere I let him know that he is dearly loved.  I don't know where his soul was before he came to me and I don't know where he went to or where his journey will take him.  Living can be so hard sometimes - there are people who are not loved and treasured as much as we all deserve.  Whatever path Toren's soul takes, at least for his time here on Earth with me he was loved unconditionally, and he is deeply loved still, and he will be treasured as my dear son forever.  Perhaps it means something.

That's all I've thought of so far.


How do you mother your lost baby or babies?


Catherine W said...

That point is very true, other people don't walk around with MY happiness, they have their own. But I often find it hard to keep that truth in the front of my mind. Good old envy and bitterness and self loathing come along and elbow good sense out of the way!

Having one of each, as it were, I think the physical actions might be different but not the underlying nature of the mothering. I know that I cannot let G know that I love her in any tangible way, not in the same way that I can love her sister. But still, she is there in my thoughts and I think of her with the same constant care and worry and love. There are many similarities in the mothering of my girls, more than I would ever have imagined.

You are right. I think that there are many people who go through their entire lives and are never loved and treasured. Even if they live long, long lives. But Toren was cherished and loved. And, in my opinion, that means more than something. It means everything. No perhaps about it in my mind.

I'll go and write on my own blog now. Sorry about the long comment, this post got me thinking and that is always a dangerous thing!

Anonymous said...

I like your new mantra. So true yet so hard to practice sometimes.
I've been thinking a lot about Riley lately too. How do I mother a daughter that is not with me? I think that I've become a more loving and compassionate educator to my K-2 students. They get the tangible love that I cannot give to Riley. And my weiner dogs.. they get lots of TLC too.

Amy said...

THank you for this post. I am struggling with all of this right now too. I just composed a blog about finding peace with the fact my across the street neighbor is pregnant.

And all the other new pregnancies and births that have occured in the last month have me really searching for joy and peace again.

I need to work on the idea that another person's joy does not lessen mine. That is a difficult one.

Thank you for this post. It touched me deeply today.

Anonymous said...

Oh Anna, I love the quote about joy. True... me shall not forget.

I estimate mothering a dead baby equally tiring as a living one. Hardly any sleep in the first year, hard to make a living, loads of self-doubt... and no first smile in exchange.

How do I mother my son?
By writing the blog. By creating art to help me heal. By remembering him, talking to him. By talking about him with other BLMs. That's a tough question and I'll have to think about it more. The heat is getting the best of my brain...


Meg said...

I love that idea about joy. There's enough for all. I'll keep that in my mind. :)

Ya Chun said...

that does sound like interesting reading.

And what makes someone else happy might not work for you - and what you see as making someone happy (because you want it) might not make them happy at all!

and I think keeping Serenity's memory alive is my way of mothering her. And also trying to take good care of myself. I don't know how that works, but I try to not let her death make me a worse person or less healthy. Does that make any sense?

Reba said...

i like the mantra.

when the fountain came out, hubby and i went to see it at our local indie movie theater. have you seen that movie?

my main way of mothering the twins is through decorating and visiting their grave, their memory garden, their rosebushes and trees in our yard.

i get the same feeling seeing the plants flourish that i do when i feel the ham has gotten slightly heavier or taller. some weird pride in growth.