Today is Pregnacy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Having lost 4 pregnancies, I can’t help but wonder, does that make me a mother?
Certainly the death of one’s children doesn’t take motherhood away. It doesn’t erase the time the mother spent caring for her child, feeding and clothing, supporting and loving. So it’s easy to say one is a mother as long as she cares for her child, for his/her entire life. It doesn’t matter how long the child lives, if it’s 50 years or 5 years.
What if the mother never gets the chance to care for her child? If the child is stillborn, for instance. She never fed or clothed him/her, but she was there for the entirety of the baby’s life. Will the death of the child, in this case, remove the mother’s title? Does it then mean, it’s right after birth, when the child takes the first breath, that’s the moment a woman becomes a mother?
If you answered yes, what if then this same child, only seconds after, stops breathing? How much different is this mother compared to the woman who gave birth to a stillborn?
If you say the woman birthing a stillborn is a mother too, then how much different is she to someone who lost her baby at 19 weeks, just a few days before it’s technically considered a stillborn? Are those few days what makes a woman into a mother?
If, instead, you think that no matter how far the pregnancy goes, the woman is a mother, I imagine that means it’s the pregnancy in itself that credits motherhood. When is that achieved? Is it when one feels the baby moving? Is it when one sees a sac on an ultrasound image? Or is it the moment one sees two pink lines on a test?
If you believe it’s the latter, let me ask you this: what if the embryo implants but dies before one is able to see those lines? Is this woman less of a mother than the one who sees the pink lines for a couple of days before them disappearing? If not, then is it at the moment of implantation that one becomes a mother?
If you agreed to implantation as the defining moment, what about the woman who goes through cycle after cycle of IVF, have many embryos fertilised in the lab but never manages to see them implant? Is she not a mother, although the one who lost the embryo only a few days later is? Are those days what makes this woman into a mother?
However, if you think the woman who endured IVF is a mother, because her eggs were fertilised, what do think about the many others who can’t afford these procedures, but try years on end? There’s no proof that a egg was ever fertilised. Are they then not mothers? Is it the accreditation of a fertility lab that makes a woman into a mother?
What about those who spent all their lives hoping and dreaming of babies but for one reason or another, were never able to conceive? Their eggs never met a sperm, although their minds made many plans? How are they different than I am?
And what about an adoptive mother? She for sure cared for and loved her child for his or her entire life, but there was never fertilisation of her eggs. Nevertheless, no one will consider her anything else but a mother. The woman whose egg was fertilised and gave birth to this child, is she not a mother anymore? Her child is alive, but she lost her motherhood the moment she handed her child over?
If you say they’re both mothers, then what would you say about a gestational carrier? She carried the child, her body supplied him/her of all the nutritional needs for nine months, much longer than I ever could. Is she a mother for this child too? Does the child have two mothers then?
Are we all mothers, no matter for how long we carry our babies, no matter if an egg is fertilised or not, as long as we love the babies we see in our minds or hold in our arms?
I’m sure that’s not how society sees me. I’m sure any woman who hasn’t been through infertility or pregnancy loss does not see me as a mother. I’m just a woman who happened to have miscarried, nothing more. In my heart, I want to think I’m more; but am I really?
I’d like to know from all of you, battling infertility or suffering loss: do you consider yourself a mother? If yes, at which moment you became one? If not, at which moment do you think you will become one?
At which moment exactly a woman becomes a mother?