Day 19: Something I Learned Because of You

August 19, 2017

By Sanda Rathamone

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 19


"The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children." - Jessica Lange

This might be a bit bizarre of me to say, but something that I learned because of Elijah was how to be a mother.

Now, how can this be? How can I be and know how to be a mother to child that "never lived?" How is this possible? How could I claim to know anything about motherhood? 

Before you tell me that I know nothing about being a mother, before you tell me that I never raised my son, or that I have never fed, clothe, bathe, swaddled, rocked, soothe, changed, burped him, and even stayed up late in the night because of his cries, before you tell me that I have no experience in motherhood - whatsoever - let me tell you why I became more of a mother, more than when I was pregnant and before loss. 

It all started from birth. 

Being in labor was the most physically painful experience I have ever had. I have never known what contractions were, moreover, the pain of what mothers go through while on the verge of birthing a child. I have never felt so much pain shooting from both sides of me that it caused me to clench my hands and shut my eyes so tightly in my entire life. It was as if I was being shocked and electrocuted and tortured in a torture chamber, by my own body. Those hours felt like an eternity and I felt like I was drowning in my own breath, not being able to breathe through each wave of pain.

Although, I birthed prematurely - a smaller than average sized baby - he still, nevertheless, was and had to be pushed out of me. 

But, this doesn't mean that just because I experienced childbirth and lived to tell the tale, that it now makes me a mother. It is the fact that I would do this all over again, just to hear my baby cry. I would go through hours and hours of labor again and again, just to have a live baby in my arms, who I can bring home and live happily ever after. 

When your child has no chance at life and dies at birth, this in no way, diminishes your motherhood. You are a mother at the moment of conception and will always be. 

In fact, I have learned that who you become after pregnancy and child loss will either be your own worst enemy or the mother you were truly and deeply meant to be. And in between those two transitions, there lies the opportunity to become more or less aware of what needs to be healed, released, or changed. 

In simpler terms, it is truly up to me in seeing loss as a dark tragedy or a beautiful struggle. 

Another thing is that I realized how naive I was when I was pregnant. I really knew nothing of motherhood; I was merely curious and eager. 

Surprisingly, my stillbirth has taught me more about being a mother than the books or tradition ever could. There's just something about pregnancy and child loss that shows you something hidden about motherhood, that even a mother who has never lost, wouldn't know or understand.

It's mind-boggling how some mothers who have never lost can also have a hard time empathizing with mothers who have and it's such a shame! Not all mothers are treated "equal." However, it is simply the fact that they could never imagine what it would be like to lose theirs or fathom the thought. This only showed me that even our motherhood - the bereaved motherhood - is distinct, unique, and runs much deeper all because of this painful void and yearning. 

It's kind of like that little saying we all have heard before: 

"You never really know what you have until it's gone." 

Be grateful. 

Be grateful to not have to be fully awakened to this pain. 

I now know that it is not just about what a mother can or could provide that makes her a mother or even a "good" mother. It is about the essence of who she is, the abundance of her natural-born maternal instincts, and her unconditional love. 

Losing Elijah taught me how to be the mother I was meant to be and even how to be his mother.

To read more about my 30 Day Writing Challenge For Stillbirth Mothers, click here.
Please let me know if you would like to join and I will include you in my final thoughts about this writing challenge in a blog post on Aug 31, 2017

Don't forget to hashtag: #30DayWritingChallengeForStillbirthMothers

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