Monday, May 14, 2012

Almost

Last night I got a text.  It was from someone in David's family.  It read:

Happy almost mommy's day!  Hope David is spoiling u.  How are you feeling?


I read those words and I felt like someone punched me in the gut.

Almost mommy's day?

Are you fucking kidding me?

I wanted to cry.  I wanted to throw something.  I wanted to puke.  I wanted to scream the f-word a million more times.  I wanted to grab this person and shake her and make her understand that that no matter how nice her intentions might be, she seems to be utterly lacking in empathy.  I wanted to tell that nothing could be more inconsiderate than implying that I am not yet a mother.  I wanted to scream at her that I will not deny my daughter's existence, that it does not make me feel better to pretend she did not exist, that I am a mother just as much as she is, and that Eliza still matters--that her life still makes all the difference in the world to mine.

I took a deep breath.  I had to do something.  I didn't want to react in anger, only because I knew that would be counterproductive.  But there was no way I could let this go.

I wrote back:

This is my third mother's day since we found out I was pregnant with Eliza in 2010.  Hard to believe. Emotional day.  We're really missing our girl.


I got no reply.

I didn't expect to.

But it needed to be said.  How dare she imply that I am not already a mom?  How she could POSSIBLY suggest that after what I've been through, I'm "almost" a mommy?  I've now endured my second mother's day without my baby girl.  I have lived through what I would have sworn was unsurvivable.  I will not pretend that my daughter never existed, and I don't give a shit if that makes some people uncomfortable.  Almost mommy's day my ass.

Every day it hurts that I was robbed of the opportunity to continue to parent my daughter.  Every day I am struck by how unfair it is that we never lived through the everyday joys and struggles of bringing home a newborn and watching her grow.  I think about this member of David's family, and I try to make excuses for her (they have a long family history of dysfunction and denial, and, after all, she's the only one in his family who even acknowledged me on mother's day, so I guess you could say she made an effort?).  But mostly, I feel really hurt and really pissed off.

ALMOST?  I wondered what her definition of motherhood is, and what it would take for me not to fall short of it.

I am as certain of being Eliza's mom as I have ever been certain of anything in my life.  But I realize that I was never given the opportunity to do so many of the things I had dreamed of doing, that I had always associated with motherhood.  So when did it happen, exactly?  At what point did I actually become a mom?

Was it the Sunday morning in May of 2010, when I saw those two pink lines on the pregnancy test and felt the giddy rush of realizing that it had really happened--I was really pregnant?  Was that the moment I became a mom?

Was it a month later, when we first heard the baby's heartbeat at the doctor's office--wow-wow-wow-wow-wow?

Was it seeing our baby duck on the ultrasound for the first time?  Hearing the sonographer exclaim, "There's your little peanut!" and feeling the biggest smile of my life spread across my face as I squeezed David's hand?

Was it when I started researching and reading everything related to pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and parenting a new baby?

Was it when we mailed out our pregnancy announcements, so thrilled to share our news with family and friends?

Was it the first time I felt the flutter of her in my belly as I sat watching David's ballgame on a sultry August evening, when it was all I could do not to stand up and shout out to the pitcher's mound that I felt the baby kicking?

Was it the day we had her twenty-week ultrasound?  When she was declared perfectly healthy and right on track for growth?

Was it later that evening when we sat outside, blissfully unconcerned about the gathering storm clouds, and opened an envelope full of sonogram pictures that confirmed my intuition--our baby duck was a girl?

Was it when we celebrated her and surprised our friends with the gender reveal at our "Donald or Daisy" party?

Was it the moment we picked out her nursery furniture?  Her car seat?  Her stroller?  Her clothes?

Was it every time David took a picture of my growing belly?

Was it when we started attending childbirth classes?

Was it each time I prayed that she would be healthy and happy?

Was it at my first baby shower, laughing with my best friends from high school, college, and graduate school, hoping that Eliza would grow up to have friends like these?

Was it at my second baby shower, surrounded by all the women in my family, knowing that Eliza would be so loved?

Was it the night I started having contractions and we headed for the hospital without even packing a bag, never believing for a second that something might go wrong?

Was it the moment that the doctor said she was sorry but our baby had died?

Was it right after that, when the room got dark and then bright and then I vomited off the side of the bed?

Was it when I saw the pain and fear in David's eyes?

Was it when I gave the final push and knew in that instant that the physical discomfort was over but the real hell was just beginning?

Was it when the nurse picked her up and said that we had a beautiful baby girl, and the hospital room echoed with silence?

Was it the moment that I held her in my arms and marveled at her perfect hands and perfect feet and then saw that her little nose was bleeding?

Was it when the blanket shifted and I thought I saw her hand move and I caught my breath and abandoned all reason and rationality to hope that this had all been a terrible mistake even though I could feel that her skin was so terribly cold?

Was it when David took her from me and held her and rocked her and tears ran down my face and I thought my heart would just burst from loving the both of them so much?

Was it when I sobbed in his arms as we listened to the faint cries of other people's babies in other labor and delivery rooms?

Was it when she was dedicated to God by a minister and we filled out the little form with her name and ours?

Was it when I cradled her tiny, perfect body in my arms and told her over and over again that I was so sorry and we loved her so much?

Was it the moment I wished with all my might that it had been my heart instead of hers that stopped beating?


The truth is, I don't know exactly when it was that I become a mother.  Eliza's short life was filled with so much joy, followed with the greatest pain I have ever experienced.  Having a baby was nothing like I imagined it would be.  Becoming her mom was exactly what I had hoped for eight months of pregnancy, and then it was absolutely a nightmare that I couldn't escape.

But none of that changes the fact that she was my baby and I loved her for every moment of her life.  She is my baby and I love her still and I miss her more than I can say.

I think back to my pregnancy, and her birth, and the dark hours that followed it, and I can't pinpoint the moment that I knew with unmistakable certainty that this was it, that I was a mom.  

But I can tell you this:  there is no almost about it.

32 comments:

  1. Hell no there's no "almost" about it. Pretty black and white to me. Eliza is your daughter, you are her mum. Not were, not was, she IS, you ARE.
    I'm so sorry people are such jerks, even if they're family members.
    You're one of the bravest and best mums I know and I can't wait for your arms to be full again, this time with a baby who squirms and cries and looks up at you and cracks your heart wide open all over again.
    xo

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very well said, as always. And so heartwrenching. I am so sorry. I'm so proud of you for standing up for yourself. Your response to the insensitive relative was perfect.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Almost mommy's day? ARGGG!!!!! This makes me SO pissed for you. What a beautiful, and terrible post, Brooke. I'm so glad you responded. You were oh-so-much-classier than I would have been.

    My grandmother, Grand Dame of Denial herself, tried something similar herself with me yesterday. My essential response that my first child was dead I think stopped her from making any more wildly ridiculous comments. It's like you say--I will NEVER deny my daughter, and if others try to, I am VERY swift to correct them.

    Sending love your way, broken, beautiful, courageous mommy.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Lying in bed, it's 5:28 am and I'm crying. I'm so infuriated that this women would say such cruel and completely inconsiderate things to you via text. Everything you wrote about being a mother to Eliza touched me so deeply. We love our children so much, from what time period do we become a mother?? It is amazing (in a bad way) the things people think, say, write. It breaks our hearts over and over because they imply that our children did not exist, that our pain and tragedy are something to be forgotten. That what we have experienced is not worth acknowledging. I'm sorry you have to experience such harsh words on an already painful day. Sending a hug to you. You are a wonderful loving mother to both of your children.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It was all of those things. All of those beautiful and tragic moments.

    So sorry you got such an insensitive text on an already tough day.

    And the fact that she used "u" instead of "you" just makes me cringe that much more. Clearly she's an idiot, but is she 16 as well?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am so sorry for the insensitive text. What u said is so true. I remember wanting to be wished a "Happy mother's day" when I was barely 2 and half months pregnant, but hadn't disclosed it to many friends. Instead, I started calling everyone and wishing them happy mother's day, even if most of them were not even married. Just so they can wish me back. It was so special. I don't know why this happened with you and with me, that all of sudden the world seems a stage of mockery! I don't have words to ease you. But, all I can do is pray that may your baby in your arms soon and fill all the gaps and nooks in your heart. God bless you!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Gah. Im crying now too. What a fucking idiot. Well-meaning, but that excuse sucks. So sorry.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Sometimes people are so stupid it is almost unreal and then I think, you can't make this shit up!

    I am glad you responded. It needed to be said. I wish you could say all the rest to her too...but some people will never get it (though I am not sure what there is to "get" about the fact that growing a baby in your belly, giving birth to her and most important loving her with every ounce of your being makes you a mom).

    ReplyDelete
  9. Ugh, relatives. I got a very similar comment last Easter when I was super pregnant with Luke. "You'll finally be a mom!" It was in person though, and I cried and walked away. (I mean, this person came to the hospital and saw and held Olivia.) That person luckily realized her mistake on her own and tried to fix it, but ouch. Ironically, the same person corrected someone yesterday when they commented about our "2nd" baby..."oh, you mean their THIRD." (Of course, I had also just had a huge fit to my parents about none of these family members doing anything for the walk.) I think your reply was very good. But ugh, it stings. I am sorry you got a text like that on a day that I'm sure was already very emotional and difficult.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am speechless. First of all, you said it perfectly. At what moment does one become a mother? I can assure you it is NOT the first diaper change or the first night you are up walking the halls with a sad little one. I am outraged for you. That person was thoughtless, uncouth and unspeakably hurtful.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Crap... I'm so sorry you recieved that senseless text on such a difficult day. I think your response was perfect although riping her head off would have been more satisfying. Also wanted to say I loved your last post on mothers day---much better than Halmarks version.

    ReplyDelete
  12. wow. can't believe that someone sent you that text. when i 1st read it, it read as though it was sent the day before mother's day, like it was almost that day. until i re-read and saw that it was sent on mother's day. and then i got pissed for you.

    so glad you wrote back. i got a text from someone saying that "Julius was lucky to have me as a mom." and i got pissed because of her use of the past-tense. i'm still trying to formulate a tactful, non-aggressive response to it.

    you ARE a mother. you will ALWAYS be a mother. you are right, there is no almost about it.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Well that lady just pisses me off to say something like that to you.
    I don't know at what point either you become a mother but you are, we all are, and it's a shame very few recognize that unless there is living baby in your arms

    ReplyDelete
  14. GUT PUNCH is right.

    Awful. You are most definitely a mother and what sucks is that people refuse to acknowledge that you are because often it makes them feel uncomfortable. I say, screw YOUR comfort. How do you think I feel?

    Hope your day with David and the Deuce was at least a bit relaxing and you stayed away from the rest of those smug mothers out there celebrating with all of their children. I'm totally, utterly jealous of them and I'm not afraid to admit it.

    Let's just stick with the real meaning of Mother's Day and its origin as you posted before, shall we? I'm good on that.

    ReplyDelete
  15. People just do not think. While some of my friends and fellow babyloss mamas acknowledged my first Mother's Day without my twins, I was overlooked by many, including members of my own family who should know better. My own brother posted this on Facebook: "Happy Birthday to my mom and grandma and all the other mothers out there." Gee, thanks. He must have blocked out seeing my dead babies in my hospital room.

    You are much nicer than I am, though. If anyone ever dares saying something like that to me - if I can ever get pregnant again - they'll wish they had't.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Yes, to all of this. The Mother's Day after Dot was born, my in-laws sent me beautiful flowers with the note "Happy first Mother's Day!" (with the "first" underlined). I knew they were trying to be supportive and celebratory, and I was even grateful for that, but it still rankles a little. It wasn't my first. They knew that. My father-in-law baptized Teddy in the NICU, for Pete's sake.

    I love your response, by the way. You were polite, firm, and also offered her a chance to enter a real conversation, which I think took a lot of guts and class on your part.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Oh, dear. This is exactly the kind of thing I was bracing myself for yesterday. I'm so sorry it happened to you :(

    Your response was really perfect, though.

    ReplyDelete
  18. It really is all those things.

    I had a similar one on my first Mother's Day with George in my arms - my sister-in-law declared that I "finally was a mother". I sort of smiled but inside I was seething. I never said anything b/c there isn't any point - they'll never understand and lucky for them, I suppose.

    You are a beautiful mother to both your babies. I'm sorry you were on the receiving end of such insensitivity.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Ah...tears in my eyes. Sorry you got that text-- how totally unthoughtful. I got many "happy first mothers day!" messages yesterday. I never said anything but it hurt.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Unbelievable. I'm so sorry that a day that was already impossible was made even harder.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I think you could have not phrased your response any better. I am often shocked at how insensitive people can be. So sorry you were at the receiving end of it.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I love how you responded to her as well... way to take the high road! You are definitely a Mother, and I think every beautiful moment you shared with Eliza compounded that fact!!! You are a wonderful Mother at that!

    ReplyDelete
  23. One of the very best mother's I know. Happy Mother's Day to you.

    Sorry for the in-law, brutal.

    ReplyDelete
  24. You are a wonderful mother to Eliza. Happy Mother's Day - I hope that you got a chance to relax and enjoy yourself despite the terrible text.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Brooke, I just want to hug you and cry with you. I miss you, friend.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I just clicked over to your blog from somebody's list of blogs, and although I don't know you or your story, it is very clear from this beautiful, moving, heartbreaking post that you are indeed a mother - her mother - and that you are rightly very proud to be. I wish your daughter could have been with you to celebrate on Sunday.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I am appalled that someone would insinuate that you are not a Mother.

    You handled it with grace and I wish she could read every sentence word of your thoughts on when exactly it was you became a mom and be reminded of her stupidity for even suggesting that you are "almost" a Mom.
    PPSHHHHHHHHH.

    Hugs to you.

    ReplyDelete
  28. It was insensitive, but I am sure that she didn't mean anything by it except that the Deuce is alomost here. I think that she was trying to show excitement and didn't really give good thought to what she was saying.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I am so sorry. You were a Mother the moment the sperm hit the egg. People are so Fucking Stupid. That's why I hate Mother's Day. I have two babies in heaven, and the only Mother's Day wishes I received were from two friends who said "Happy Mother's Day, you're a great Mom to your sweet furry friends!" WTF...My Mom didn't even wish me HMD, she was pissed because I wouldn't get out of the house and take her to dinner. I HATE Mother's Day.
    Deena

    ReplyDelete
  30. You are and always will be Eliza's mommy, and I'm so sorry that someone would say something like that to you, or to any of us. Mother's Day is such a hard day as it is.

    I really love what you wrote--how you mapped out your love for your little girl. So beautiful. You are a beautiful mother.

    Sending love. xo

    ReplyDelete
  31. I think your response to her was admirably restrained. ; ) We may not be mothers in the conventional sense, but we went through labour, and delivered & held babies in our arms (albeit ones that weren't breathing) -- and then buried (or cremated) them. Anyone who says that we're not moms is invited to go through the experience themselves & then see if their tune changes. :p

    ReplyDelete
  32. Your description of all those moments have me in tears in my office.

    ReplyDelete