365 Days of Not Being a Mom

Thursday, January 21, 2021


It's hard to believe that today marks one year since I learned of my miscarriage, since setting into motion the double D&Cs it took to get my body back to normal. But it's not back to normal, is it? I'm not back to normal. 

In the midst of my miscarriage, I thought, "I will remember every moment of this, & I will write it all down later. I will tell my version of this story for women who can't figure out how to tell their own." It felt too painful in the moment, though, too much emotional energy I didn't have – & I found that when I "recovered," I didn't have it in me anymore to tell that story, to go back, to delve that deep.

I remember most vividly those days before the miscarriage, when I knew that nothing was living or growing inside me anymore but hadn't yet undergone the procedure to finalize it. I remember walking through Target & WalMart like a zombie, equal parts trying to ignore the baby sections & drawn to them, like I couldn't help but immerse myself in the midst of the most painful possible place to be. Surrounded by strollers & diaper rash cream & pacifiers & onesies, hands on my lower stomach, I breathed deeply & quietly & told myself, "I am not a mom anymore."

There's something weird that happens, mentally, when you learn that you're pregnant, a mental shift from "This body is mine" to "This body is yours" – a moment in which you realize that while you're still yourself, you're also something else, something new, a protective vessel for a burgeoning life. For that one mere month that I knew I was pregnant, everything I did was designed to sustain, support, & grow that life, to ensure that the baby inside me was protected & provided for – to give my child the beginning they deserved. 

And so, in those in-between moments, when I learned that my body had failed in its role of protector & provider but before I'd gone into surgery to make it "official," I felt more helpless than ever before – like a failure who hadn't even done anything wrong. I'd gone from not-a-mother to mother-to-be to just plain old me again, all in the span of just over a month. And maybe it shouldn't have been long enough to change me, but I did.

Before my miscarriage, I was never really sure whether I wanted kids. I thought I wanted to adopt, maybe; I had no real interest in the specifics of being pregnant, didn't want some foreign body taking over my body, distorting & destroying my already-warped view of the flesh in which I life. I never felt the tick of that proverbial biological clock, never felt like I was missing out, never experienced any jealousy or envy over pregnant women or parents.

Until I did.

For the last 365 days, it has felt as though everyone is getting pregnant & having babies but me – & as much as I hate experiencing that jealousy & envy, as much as it makes me feel like a jerk & a failure & a sore loser (to put it bluntly), I can't seem to help it. Every pregnancy announcement is tinged with pain; there's joy, of course, because I love my friends, & I'm not a monster. But the hurt that comes with it – the "Why her & not me? Why not me, too?" thoughts that accompany it – eat away at me, sending me into a small tailspin every time. 

I am embarrassed by it, almost, disgusted by it – by how simple & basic & common it all feels, to suddenly feel the desperate urge to be a mother, to experience jealousy & envy toward those who are, to to struggle this much with my feelings about it, which all seem to have changed so quickly & so dramatically. I was always so proud of being a woman who wasn't defined by my status as a parent or lack thereof, & sometimes I'm ashamed to have fallen into the age-old trope of "older woman desperate to have a child."

I just keep thinking there's something so cruel about the fact that I spent the entirety of my 20s trying so desperately not to get pregnant, only to find that getting pregnant is actually pretty difficult. There's something deeply & existentially unfair about having been so responsible in my lack of sureness about having a child, & then, upon deciding I'm sure, discovering that perhaps I am too old or my body too broken to have a child after all.

In this moment, I am just short of 36 & a half years old; at one time, I thought that by now, I would be the mother of a 5-month-old, but every day that passes leaves me one day older, one day closer to "too "late." I know many women my age & older have kids, that I am not doomed, & that even if I cannot have children of my own, adoption is still an option. I know this isn't over; I know this has, in some ways, barely begun. I know there is more to come. I know now, with certainty, that Mike & I want to be parents, & that we will work to make sure it happens.

But in the meantime, I'm just left with the wanting – with the ache of having been there, almost, of feeling like we were on the way toward parenthood. With the pain of having chosen a name & envisioned a future & started to change our life to accommodate someone else's presence within it.

In this moment, I'm reminded – yet, again, like I have been nearly every day for the past 365 of them – that I am not yet a mother, & that I do not know when or if I ever will be. That this journey is not going to be easy & clear-cut & straightforward & storybook. That we can't make our bodies do what we want them to do, & that try as we might, we don't have the power to bend the future to our whims.

We'll keep trying. We'll keep hoping. And until then, we'll keep grieving, too. 

3 comments:

Lacey Bean said...

Oh Kate. <3 This hit me hard. I feel for you so much because I have felt all those thoughts. Getting pregnant now at 37 is still a shock to me because it took us so long to get here for this baby. And during all that time between Sadie and now, EVERY time someone got pregnant it was such a gut punch that I couldn't breathe at times. Just know you're not alone in your feelings, and I truly understand. <3

Kristin said...

Kate, I've followed your (excellent and interesting) blog for a while and don't know whether I've commented before but wanted to reach out after reading your post today. Thanks for sharing your feelings. It took me a long time to get pregnant and for my, struggling to become a parent was a mixture of grief, hope, uncertainty and jealousy that I left me pretty devastated. The good news is, when I finally did become a mom, that sadness quickly evaporated in large part and I hope it'll be the same for you. As the poster above says, you are not alone. I believe that many women have some version of this kind of pain at some point in their lives. It is really hard in particular to watch friends having babies and to struggle between wanting to share on their joy and feeling like it is so unfair. I trust things will work out for you and send you a lot of sympathy and encouragement in the meantime!

Priya said...

Thank you for sharing this <3 beautifully said. I am sending a hug for a kind of pain I truly can't imagine!

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