On Becoming an Invisible Mother

On January 22nd, 2017, I became an invisible mother. My person was still wholly visible, but my motherhood was not.

In July of 2016, my husband and I (okay, mostly I) decided to stop using birth control and just “see what happens”. A couple weeks later, boom! Pregnant.

Already in love with the tiny sesame seed inside me but terrified to be a mom, I set out on being the best pregnant lady ever. I was going to be a fit pregnant lady — one that never plowed through an entire pint of ice cream just because the baby needed it, and attended prenatal yoga and went for walks through the park. Yep, pregnancy was going to be bliss.

Fast-forward to a couple days later, and I was too sick to my stomach to eat anything but buttered noodles. And walks? Hahaha, only if you want me to upchuck all over the park path!

Soon, though, the sickness faded and my bump began to pop. Our announcement became Facebook official, and I was so ready for the second trimester.

Turns out, though, my baby was not.

My son was diagnosed with a potentially fatal heart condition at 18 weeks. Just about every semblance of normalcy went out the window on that day, along with his health. Still, we hoped and did the “wait and see” thing, because that’s the only option we had.

For a couple weeks, he was okay. We thought, okay, maybe he’s going to make it…maybe we’re going to have this baby after all!

At 25 weeks, though, we saw fluid collecting all over his tiny body, and had to prepare for the worst. He fought so hard for another 5 weeks, but lost the battle at 30 weeks, 2 days.

In that hospital room on that day, I became an invisible mother. I labored for hours, experienced a bad tear, and ran a fever that made the entire thing seem like a hot, sweaty, out-of-body experience, all to meet my son, who would never take a breath.

The path to motherhood, even with a perfect pregnancy, is never perfect. It’s messy and complicated. There are fights, scary moments, emergency C-sections, swollen feet, and the odd health issue. At the end though, you’ve done it — you’ve created life, you’ve brought a child into this world, and now you are Mother. Mom. Mama.

I did that. I carried Jonah, I nurtured him, and I delivered him. Therefore, I am a mother. There’s just one very important thing missing from this equation…my baby. I’ve got the loose skin pouch, the stretch marks, the XL thighs that stick together when I’m trying to sleep. I’ve got that “I’ve given birth, so shut up, your pain is nothing” retort. All the regular mom things are there, but the baby is not.

It’s the most perplexing, most complex life thing I’ve ever experienced. Am I a mom? Over these past couple months, I’ve gotten pretty good at mothering my little guy, even though he’s not here, physically. So yes, I’m a mom — just not a mom in the traditional sense.

I’m an invisible mom.

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