When You’re Not a “Mother” on Mother’s Day

A mother holds her baby in a nursery.

The room was blurry. I couldn’t sit up.

Somewhere I heard people’s voices.

My mom’s voice broke through my mental fog, “We need help! She just keeps passing out!”

Muffled sounds were echoing off the walls; my ears were ringing.

“…how much blood? How long….”

The room was spinning again, and I couldn’t fight it. I melted into the darkness.

• • • • • • • • • •

I woke up on a stretcher. Again. This was my third time on a stretcher that week. I was fighting to keep my twin babies in my womb. I had already fought with the ER doctors — I told them they couldn’t take my babies. One doctor told me I was putting my life in danger. I didn’t care. I didn’t want to live without my babies anyway.

My brother Mike had squeezed my hand hard and said, “You’re gonna be okay, sis.” He was with me while my husband was gone for basic training with the military.

“Where’s her husband? This girl needs her husband.” I overheard the doctor talking to Mike.

“They won’t let him leave training. We already got ahold of his commander through the Red Cross. There’s nothing we can do.”

I was losing my babies, and there was nothing anyone could do to help me save them.

• • • • • • • • • •

I was on another stretcher. I was so cold, colder than I knew I could ever feel. I couldn’t see anything except a blurry light somewhere even though my eyes were open. With very little sight, my sense of smell made all of the unfamiliar smells of a hospital overwhelming.

“Meg, they are taking you into surgery… the doctor said we have to… you’ve lost too much blood already…. I’m going to be right here….” My mother’s voice tried to break through the fog as I felt her warm hand touching my arm, and then it was gone.

Right here, she had said, where was that? Where was I? Where did she go?

My teeth chattered, and I slipped back into the darkness.

• • • • • • • • • •

Hours later, I woke up in a quiet room and found out that they had performed a D&C (which stands for a Dilation and Curettage. The procedure is done once a mother reaches a certain point in a pregnancy where the contents of the uterus must be removed.) because my body wasn’t naturally birthing my deceased twins. I had clung on to hope that one of them would make it.

Because I lost my twin babies just shy of 20 weeks, they called it a miscarriage instead of stillbirth. It was like their lives didn’t even matter. They were scraped from my womb and discarded.

Weeks later I would wake up screaming to see them, to hold them, to say goodbye, but I had already lost my chance.

I slipped in and out of sleep over the next few hours. Each time I woke up, I faced the hazy, cold reality that I had to live on without my babies.

There were flowers in the room from all the people who had heard of my loss.

“We are praying for you.”

“We are so sorry.”

“We don’t know how it’s possible for someone so young to have already gone through so much.”

“Maybe the stress caused it.”

“Your husband should be here.”

I turned over and closed my eyes. I had never felt so empty and so forsaken.

• • • • • • • • • •

The next few weeks are a blur in my memory.

You see, this was not the first time I lost babies during pregnancy. I had lost two other babies through miscarriages at the sixth and seventh weeks of pregnancy. Those losses had been really difficult, but this time was different. This time I had felt the soft butterfly movement of my babies. This time I had been sure that I would finally be a mommy.

Two months later when I woke up on Mother’s Day, I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. It was simply too hard to face that day with an empty womb and empty arms.

• • • • • • • • • •

Birds flying toward freedom in the skies.

Nine Years Later

It’s been nine years since that traumatic loss. A little over seven years ago I gave birth to a healthy baby girl, four hours after Regina (my cousin, friend, and founder of Urban Southern) gave birth to her little girl. As I type this, my little girl is snuggled up to me as she watches a princess movie. I’m trying to discreetly wipe away the tears that keep escaping my eyes as I write because I don’t want her to see me crying today.

Today I’m divorced, and I’m a single mom. Life hasn’t turned out quite like I always thought it would, but I have embraced my journey. I am a mother, and this is the most beautiful life I could ever live. I’m keenly aware that someone else has not been granted the opportunity to be a mother.

This Mother’s Day, I know I will wake up filled with so much gratitude for the daughter I have. I will also pause in my joy to grieve the women who are waking up with aching, empty arms. I will think of the woman who longs for even the chance of pregnancy. You are not forgotten.

I’m sharing my story with so much hope in my heart — not with the hope that life will go like we all want it to go, but with hope because we are here together. I write with hope because I now understand that my pain has carved the depth in my soul that allows me to feel a greater amount of gratitude for things in life that I overlooked before. I have hope for the joy that comes after a long night of dark and lonely loss.

If you’re not a “mother” on Mother’s Day, I would like to have the honor to sit with you right here, on the other side of this screen. It’s not much to offer. It almost seems like an inconsiderate thought, in the face of what you are feeling, to think that it could make a difference to tell you that I care. I can understand that.

I want you to know that you truly are enough, just as you are. And you are not alone.

I want you to know if you can’t hope today, I will hold on to hope for you.

12 Comments

  1. Sherri Dickens on May 12, 2017 at 6:50 am

    Meg, this is beautiful. And I’m so grateful that you shared it! Thank you!

    • Meg Delagrange on May 12, 2017 at 8:27 am

      Thank you Sherri, it’s taken some time to be able to share my story from a place of hope if that makes sense. Thank you for reading!

  2. Cathy on May 12, 2017 at 8:20 am

    Thank you for sharing your story – to remind us of the sorrow so many women in our own lives endure because of the demise of a pre-born baby. A reminder that we all know someone whose overwhelming sense of loss goes unacknowledged, because we live in a culture that diminishes the reality that a child has died. A reminder to affirm their grief and give them the sympathy and support we would offer to anyone who has lost a loved one. And to remind them that though their arms are empty, they ARE mothers.

    • Meg Delagrange on May 12, 2017 at 8:31 am

      Hi Cathy! I couldn’t agree more, “…though their arms are empty, they ARE mothers.” I remember hearing that years ago and it brought me some measure of comfort. I want to offer hope through sharing my story without trying to slap a band-aid on, but it’s so hard to know what that looks like. I love your words and feel that they will be comforting to others who read them. Grief is a lonely road, no matter how you experience it. I have learned not to expect others to understand or hold that lack of understanding or comfort against them, but it has been a process.

    • Britt on May 13, 2017 at 9:43 am

      Thank you ❤ this is probably the most support I have received and I don’t even know you. The acknowledgement that my baby existed, that I love it still everyday and wonder what could of been. That though my arms are empty, I’m a mother.

      • Meg Delagrange on May 15, 2017 at 8:34 am

        In the years that I kept losing babies, I was comforted through knowing I was a mother even though my arms were empty, but the world couldn’t see that and it is such a lonely lonely journey. Yes Britt, you are absolutely a mother.

  3. Katie Sullivan on May 12, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Hi Meg, I know very similar pain! My husband was in the military and we welcomed our first son 4/17/08. At 23 months he was diagnosed with Aplastic anemia and passed away a week after turning 2(4/24/10)We were away from our family, it was all of a sudden. I remember flying back home to TX for his funeral and the pilot coming on the air to say Happy Mother’s Day. In 2012, we welcomed our second boy. Healthy. Fast forward to now, I was due with our third boy April 30th this year. I lost him at 16 weeks. I remember I had him in my belly 1 1/2 days after I found out I lost him before my d&c. On 4/17/17(on what would have been my first son’s 9th bday) we had to rush our son to the hospital and he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Life is hard and we will see our babies again.

    • Meg Delagrange on May 15, 2017 at 8:41 am

      Thank you for sharing that with me Katie, that is a painful journey mama. Life is hard and the pain is something I’d never chose to go through if I had a choice because I’m just not that brave. My thoughts are with you as you grieve and keep navigating your journey through life. Thank you for being here.

  4. Karen on May 12, 2017 at 8:52 am

    Beautifully written, takes me back to my own miscarriage so many years ago…one question: who is Regina who had a baby 4 hours before you?

    • Meg Delagrange on May 15, 2017 at 8:38 am

      Hi Karen, Ah, I should have explained that! When I wrote this, I didn’t stop to think that someone who doesn’t know the story behind Urban Southern could read this and have no idea who Regina is! Regina is the founder and designer who started this brand, Urban Southern. She’s also my cousin and we’ve been close friends all of our lives. When I called her to tell her I was pregnant, she told me she thought she was too. Our due dates were two weeks apart but we had our babies the same night!

  5. Julie Long on May 13, 2017 at 2:25 am

    I tried for fifteen years to be a mother, it was never to be..and now I am 56 and watching others become grandmothers….the pain is still there, and In August, I lost my mom,, so Mothers Day means nothing to me anymore..thank you for sharing your story, most of the happy ending stories only make me wonder why I never got my happy ending..never to end up with a child..and wondering how my older years will be…

    • Meg Delagrange on May 15, 2017 at 8:36 am

      Julie, my heart hurts so much because I know there are women who never ever get that happy ending. It has made me feel guilty for getting mine. It’s not fair and I don’t have any answers. I have an older friend who doesn’t have children of her own but she has been like a mother to me and I have a feeling that you’re a mother figure to others. I’m sure this doesn’t ease the pain, but I hope you know how much you mean to those whose lives you have touched.

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