A Holiday draws near...

Will anyone recognize me as a Mother
this Mother's Day
THAT is what is bothering me.

Entry #9 ~ 4/28/98

May 11th will be 8 months since my son Ian was stillborn. May 11th is also the day after Mother's Day; I'm not looking forward to either day. I've been thinking often of Mother's Day, trying to determine the real reason why I am not looking forward to it. It's not only because I miss my son and wish I could turn back the hands of time and make this "stillbirth dream" go away, but also due to my interpretation of others viewpoints of my "motherhood" (those outside of my loss experience).

For instance, last year I received a Mother's Day card on Mother's Day! I was 5 months pregnant at the time; what a wonderful surprise to be recognized as a "Mother-to-Be." Will anyone recognize me as a Mother this Mother's Day (I have no other children)? THAT is what is bothering me. The facilitator at my bereavement group made a comment last month to the effect of, "if you do have more children in the future you will be a better mother, more appreciative, more compassionate." True, I agree.

But, aren't I a Mother now? Am I suddenly excluded from the "Mommy Club" because my child died? I don't think so. I'll be Ian's Mommy forever, no one can take that away from me. My heart says now that EVERY DAY SHOULD BE MOTHER'S DAY! Not just another day in May. Not only am I saddened that others won't recognize me on Mother's Day but also that they will lose sight of the fact that I'm always Ian's mother, every day. I hate the feeling that my "motherhood" does not exist to others outside my loss experience and I realize they don't understand. I wish they would at least try.


Marcia's thoughts: Many of us did a lot of parenting in a short time and have memories of our babies that will be forever in our hearts and souls...so I believe we are parents. I came to believe that how I feel is the most important part of all of this. We continue to educate society around this idea - and it is a slow process... But new awakenings and change - take time!!

Entry #10 ~ 4/30/98

A Poem for Mother's Day

In Memory Of: Ian Marcus Walter, 9/11/97

Yes, I am a Mother
Though some may not believe
My hopes and dreams were shattered
Suddenly my son died inside of me.

I did not volunteer
For my son to be born still
I don't know why it happened
Some day I wonder if I will.

To me my son was beautiful
Long fingers, Daddy's hair
My square nose, lips and chin
Flat feet, soft skin so fair.

We dreamed he'd be a lacrosse player
Daddy's favorite game
Now we search for miniature sticks
To set by Ian's grave.

I loved my son before I knew him
"A twinkle in his parents eyes"
I planned events for his life in detail
Hopes and dreams, away they fly.

I'll never be able to read Ian a story
Or help him ride a two-wheeled bike
No Sunday strolls or birthday parties
No throwing snowballs or country hikes.

No school trips, no ant farm collections
No friends to listen in on the phone
No college diploma, no wedding bells
No "Happy Mother's Day" card
I feel so all alone.

Yes, I am a Mother
Though some may not believe
I loved my son before I knew him
Please don't take that away from me.

I mourn now even eight months later
I dearly love my son, many tears I shed
Please let me cry whenever I need to
Tears help me heal, accept and mend.

My broken heart will never heal fully
I'll miss my son each and every day
Certain things will remind me of him
I know I'll cry years later, when I'm old and gray.

Yes, I am a Mother
Though some may not believe
I loved my son before I knew him
Please don't take that away from me.

Entry #11 ~ 5/98

Co-Workers expecting too much too fast...

Today was a terrible day for me at work. I've been working part-time since November 1997 (30 hours/week) on a modified job. Another co-worker left for an assignment at our Phoenix division effective today. Basically my boss said, "I want you to start doing your original job full-time." This is a high profile job involving at least 80% employee relations (I work in the Human Resources office of a manufacturing organization). Emotionally I am not ready, I know I'm not. I'm a little better, but I can't fathom chatting with employees about their children, etc. I expressed this to my boss and his reply was, "I think it's the best thing for you." He also confided in me that a couple of my co-workers have said that "she should be working full-time now, it's been 6 months." I attempted to explain to him about the "road of my grief." His response, "are you seeing a psychologist?" I told him I'm going to a bereavement group and also just started going to our local EAP (I met a counselor who is also the mother of a stillborn). Of course I cried in front of him; I don't care, I'm human.

The company I work for has traditionally been "hands-off" when it comes to employing part-time workers. It's a very sad note that after nearly 14 years of employment, I feel forced to leave because the Human Resources manager does not want to even attempt to understand my feelings. I have so much to offer them at 30 hours a week. What's interesting is, my job was replaced last year while I was still pregnant and it was agreed that I come back part-time unless something happened, then I wanted the opportunity to gain my full-time employment back. At that time, I had no earthly idea I would have a stillborn son nor any notion that the grief process would be so intense.

I'm curious if you know of any other "professional women" having had similar experiences??

I'm "hanging in there" for the interim, but this has really blown me away. I've truly lost respect. I realize not everyone understands the intensity. It's so frustrating. Thanks for your "ear." JoAnn


Marcia's thoughts: During the years of listening to other parents, I have heard similar situations - employers, often, DO NOT understand how long grief takes. I have had several in the group switch jobs, stop working or "cope" the best they could around this issue. It does not seem right that after 14 years some more understanding couldn't take place, but I guess some jobs can allow for "a break" and others just can't.

I am always amazed that others know better than the griever how long it takes... until it happens to them. How many times have I heard from a newly bereaved parent, "I had no clue that this kind of loss could make me feel so low for so long. I try to help them realize that no one spends time on these issues, it seems, until it happens to them. Then, many don't bother, and suffer more as a results of denial or refusal to grieve. I have had moms show up in the group who have lost babies years before, never grieved and "all of a sudden" are overwhelmed!! We welcome them with open arms.

Just know that your situation, unfortunately, is not unique. It's a sign of our society and its denial around loss, pain, and grief. I think some of the tragic events - airplanes, bombs, etc. - have had some inpact on our general "learning scale," but, for most, I think they still think that is for folks "they don't know." Certainly, not for them. Look at the average attendance to a general grief group - folks openly admit that to display pain in public is not for them and they refuse to come.

Entry #12 ~ 6/98

Surviving Mother's Day

For several weeks preceding Mother's Day I was a basketcase of emotions; my son, Ian, was stillborn on 9/11/97 so May 1998 marks the first Mother's Day without him and the following day 5/11/98 was the 8th month anniversary of his birth. I decided to schedule 2 days off from work on the 11th & 12th, not knowing what my emotional state of mind would be like. However, I think we need to do that; plan for the unexpected, do whatever we think is right to get through the pain.

My husband and I visited Ian's grave on Mother's Day in the latter part of the evening, just before dark. I broke down in uncontrollable tears when I saw a gift someone had left; a white rose was left by Ian's grave with a card. The card stated (as if it was written to me from my son), "I'll always love you Mom, love Ian." What a wonderful gesture! I'm still not sure who did that, but it shows how much love & support he/she had for us. I'll never forget that. I plan to dry out the white rose and place it with the card in Ian's scrapbook.

My husband bought me a gold necklace; 3 small blocks, each one with one of Ian's initials engraved. I'll cherish it forever. I also received 2 Mother's Day cards from close friends; how thoughtful they remembered.

Just when I thought that no one would think about Ian, or us ... it made me able to cope so much better with the day. I thank them with all my heart.

Entry #13 ~ 6/11/98

9 Months Later

I know I have many better days.

Today, June 11th 1998, marks the 9th month since my son Ian's, stillbirth. Usually the days preceding the anniversary day of each month are harder for me than the actual day itself, however today is different. I've been very busy the last 5 or 6 days, and then suddenly today, here I am, a basket of emotions. I went to work as usual, although I couldn't focus or concentrate and I started crying uncontrollably. I eventually left work; told everyone I was "sick." If they only knew. I felt it was going to be an emotional day. My body tenses up and I just feel the emotions churning inside me to the point where I could jump on my bike and ride until I collapsed from exhastion or wishing I had boxing gloves so I could beat the stuffing right out of the punching bag. The tension and stress just overtake me.

This day is even more emotional for me because of this realization -- it's the 9th month since Ian's stillbirth. Gee, I could have had another baby in that amount of time! But the real feeling is -- I want my son, Ian. I miss him so much. He was so much a part of me.

It's not my fault I feel this way. It's not my fault my son was stillborn. It's not my fault that the emotions of my son's death overwhelm me to the point that I can't function some days, even now 9 months later. Sometimes I think others outside my loss experience feel, "something is wrong with her." When I interpret that I think, "they must think it's my fault I can't control my emotions." IF THEY ONLY KNEW. I wouldn't wish this on anyone, of course. It's so very hard. I just wish they would try to understand.

The days ARE getting better. I know I have many better days. I think I still deserve to have some really miserable days, too. It's not my fault they happen. All I know is, I love & miss my son.


Toward's the end of the first year...Marcia's comment on this time period and JoAnn's letter... As time goes on folks sneak into their date without knowing it...sometimes it jumps on you as THE day is there. Generally, towards the end of the first year, the month to month feelings lessen and disappear (at least as far as I have learned from input in the group...). Then as the first years end draws near, we start to think back to where we were the previous year and a sadness hovers over us. The year before we were getting ready to have a baby...now we know what happened. So, we "relive," to some degree, what happened for real! It usually is a difficult time. Read SHARE Atlanta's Workshop on "Anniversaries and Special Occasions" for more detail.

Though the month to month dates seem to slide away, the yearly anniversary seems to be the one that is lasting to some degree forever. Of course, the first several are the hardest each becoming easier as our lives change, and we regroup. One comfort to me is that we never forget, and we always love our baby. NOONE can take that from us. Then it becomes our choice as to how and when we remember our baby. Our grief does not dominate that decision. We are free to love ourselves and all of our family as we want.

Entry #14~ 7/11/98

10 Months Later

July 11, 1998 marked 10 months since my son, Ian, was stillborn. I don't know why but these summer months have been very difficult for me. Perhaps it's partly due to the fact that last summer I was in my last trimester, feeling great and so anxiously awaiting the arrival of our first-born. Knowing that September 11th is now only 2 months away has been overwhelming me.

July 11th was a difficult day. The entire weekend was difficult. My monthly period came timely, a frustration, yet I'm trying to remain hopeful as my husband & I attempt another pregnancy. And, my sister-in-law announced she is pregnant with her second child. What a rush of emotions I had! It took all my energy to fight back the tears. My emotions, it seems, are still very raw, even though I think I've been getting better. I'm very happy for my brother-in-law & sister-in-law but it still hurts because I miss my son, Ian, SO much!

My sister-in-law has been very supportive through my "road of grief" and we had a good chat recently. In fact, she was somewhat timid to tell us of their new pregnancy. She didn't want to pull out our hurt again. I did thank her for something, however. I thanked her for telling us right away at our home and I thanked her for telling us alone, in-person. Not in front of the rest of the family, not out in public. That made a world of difference to me, and she even thought about that before she told us.

By the way, Marcia ... my sister-in-law is the "mystery person" who put the white rose at Ian's grave on Mother's Day. I can't believe she went this long without telling me! And, ironically enough, I can't believe I never mentioned it to her. I believe now we are even closer than ever because of that white rose!!

I'm trying to remain optimistic and hopeful for the near future. Prior to my first pregnancy and during the early stages of the pregnancy last year I had that "I'm scared about this" behavior. Normal for first-time Mom's I guess. But now since we lost Ian, I realize how much I want to be a Mother.

Frankly, being a Mother is one of the greatest gifts God could ever give us. I'm still Ian's Mother and always will be. I hope I'm someone else's Mother soon.

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