Yesterday was a bad day. Not for any particular reason. Grief can be lonely – even in a room full of people, fellow grievers say. Yesterday that loneliness, combined with anger, resentment and deep sorrow at being an empty-armed mother threatened to erupt.
Stumbling upon a post by a fellow mother with no living children was a huge relief. Her words really resonated with me.
This excerpt, about what it is like to live as a mother with no living children is especially poignant:
While you’re reading this I want you to take a moment to close your eyes and think of the moment you felt most unwelcome, out of place, vulnerable, and confused. Think of a time where your identity was stripped from you. When you lost the single thing that gave you hope, purpose, and made sense of your life. Where everything you once thought your life would be, suddenly wasn’t. I know it’s a scary place to go back to – no one likes revelling in their most uncomfortable moments, but for me, just take a second and breathe, and remember when life violated you on a primal level.
You got it?
That’s what life as a Mother with no living children feels like. Every. Single. Day.
I like the author’s softball analogy. Too often I feel stuck in the fielders’ position, away from the action.
Don’t get me wrong – I have many wonderful, kind, sensitive friends, both in real life and on social media. You all remember Hugo, mention his name regularly, and doing that give invaluable reassurance that he will never be forgotten. I am grateful to and appreciate every single one of you.
Thankfully, very few of you understand, and I mean first hand, how it feels to lose a child.
Even fewer know how it feels to lose your only child.
To be a parent with no child to care for. No living child to bestow so much love on. A house that is too quiet. A home bereft of toys and baby paraphernalia.
As I have mentioned in similar posts, there is no better or worse with baby and child loss. There are no points to be allocated, there is no ranking system.
I miss – without ever having truly experienced it – the camaraderie parents of living children share. Trading stories of sleepless nights, poonamis, tantrums. Proudly sharing the good stories, too.
It is why such posts, and sites such as Still Mothers are so valuable to me.
Hugo was born at 24 weeks, so I am a mother with little knowledge of the discomfort of carrying around a big bump. I missed feeling all the big kicks and turns of Hugo in my tummy. I missed waiting for 40 weeks, wondering what birth would be like.
I miss taking my baby home. Being a bewildered, scared new mother rather than a bewildered, scared bereaved mum.
This is something that I deal with most days. It’s life, I have to. It’s either that or hide under the duvet. A residual sense of guilt that I am alive when Hugo is not (and my own two weeks in hospital testament to how close I came to not being here myself) is motivation, too.
As the author of the post says about her daughter I fight for Hugo, defend his memory, and make sure I am the kind of woman he deserves to have as a mother.
It is why I work so hard on this blog, on Hugo’s Legacy. It is why I cannot help but take personally any incidence of feeling like Hugo has been ‘left out’ of something.
I’m not fishing for compliments. My readers leave kind comments, such as on this post. Many of the comments are humbling.
I don’t always feel like the woman described in these comments. Like yesterday, I was tired, so tired from grief, from fighting to show that Hugo matters, to feel that I am still a mother. I wanted it to all go away, to be better, to have my son back. I wanted to be sleep-deprived, and with toys all over the house.
Knowing that is impossible does not make me want it any less.
Having to acknowledge that is impossible can feel like a rude reminder, a painful poke in the ribs.
I am unlikely to ever say that these feelings are ‘ok’. They are not, because the reason those feelings are with me are very much not ok. That said, I am accepting, acknowledging that sometimes I am allowed to feel sorry for myself, to take time out.
That’s what I did yesterday. Retreated to the sofa with the cat. Avoided social media. Received kind support from lovely people.
Recharged the batteries, ready to survive another day.
Still an empty-armed mother. Still in a fielding position. But feeling better able to cope with that.