Motherhood is not always a greeting card sentiment.
As much as I love the romantic version of motherhood ~ complete with flying cherubs, and happy, well behaved children ~ I want to share another reality of motherhood . . . loss.
Twenty-four weeks into pregnancy with my fourth child, our world came crashing down as we were given devastating news. Amelia would not survive. I spent my pregnancy planning my daughter’s funeral and her birth. I specialized in finding ways to make memories of our short time with her at the same time I helped my three young children understand the limits of life and the reality of death. Motherhood became a juggling act of doctors appointments, research, avocation, and trying to find a new normal for our family.
However, none of that prepared me for leaving the hospital with empty arms, holding only a blanket that she had been swaddled in. My face buried in the soft pink folds where her smell still lingered. Motherhood became the biggest blessing and heartbreak I had ever known all in a shattering silence, the moment my daughter was stillborn.
Motherhood is hard. It is finding the will to get out of bed each morning after you bury your baby. It is choosing hope through the darkest of moments, where grief threatens to swallow you whole. It is answering endless questions through exhaustion and tears. It is folding laundry and putting away newborn clothes that you desperately hoped and prayed she would wear. Motherhood is listening to your five year old talk about how her bones hurt and her heart aches because she is the only living girl in a family full of boys. It is meeting her eyes as she cries for the sister she is missing.
Motherhood is modeling grief and being real. It is deciding to climb out of devastation and still be mom even when you would rather not. It is endless hugs and embraces, smiling through the pain and laughing at their jokes when they try to cheer you up. It is allowing joy to punch through the blanket of grief by turning up the music and dancing with the kids in the living room. It is listening to everything that your children need to say and reassuring them that grief has no time limits. It is finding the fortitude to discipline even though your world is falling apart because your kids need some kind of normal in the midst of chaos.
Motherhood has taught me to love in new ways. To share my heart and be vulnerable to help others. I have become bold because I know that life is a gift that is often too short. Motherhood has allowed me to express myself through art and connect with other women throughout the world that understand this pain. I embrace this journey because, only by walking through darkness can I seek the light.