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Mother's Day
May 09, 2002


By far, the most difficult Mother's Day I experienced was May 1998, 8 months following the stillbirth of my son, Ian, in September 1997. I remember dreading it, but I couldn't get away from it, it seemed to be everywhere I turned! I remember crying over television and radio announcements advertising the day, and I quickly skipped by the Sunday newspaper ads with photos of "happy Moms" or restaurants advertising special meal deals.

I remember my Mom calling me the week before Mother's Day that year and saying, "we have reservations, we'll meet you at ..." It was always a tradition that I went to dinner with my parents on Mother's Day. That year, however, I knew I couldn't go. I didn't want to be surrounded by "happy Moms" and certainly didn't want to encounter strollers, carriers with babies in tow, babies eating in highchairs, or even little toddlers babbling and running about (the "what could have been" emotion overwhelms you even when you see older children, not just babies). I burst into tears on the phone and simply told my mother, "I can't go this year, I'm sorry." That's all I had to say, she understood, and her reply was simply, "I'm sorry, I didn't think about how you might feel." I was relieved that she understood and didn't make a big deal about it. And although the words were never really spoken, my Mother knew "my daughter is a Mother, too" but she didn't understand how much the day impacted me.

When I visited the cemetery that Mother's Day, I was surprised to find a special gift left for me. It was a single white rose with a card attached. The card read, "You're my Mom forever, Love Ian" (as if it was written by Ian). Later I learned my sister-in-law left it for me, what a wonderful gesture, and I will never forget it. In fact, I dried the flower and pressed it with the card in Ian's scrapbook.

I did receive a few cards on Mother's Day that year, and I look back at them occasionally in Ian's scrapbook. Not only was it helpful to me emotionally to be remembered as a Mother, it was also important to me that people remembered Ian even 8 months later. The cards were generic Mother's Day cards, and that's okay, what meant more to me were simple words added like "we're thinking of you on this day."

Now, looking back 4 years later, although that particular Mother's Day was the hardest to get through, and I was relieved the next day and probably thought something like, "I made it through" it is now the most sentimental of all the Mother's Day's I've had since. And, I never thought I would be able to, but I can smile about it now.

I've now made a simple, new Mother's Day tradition just for myself. The week prior to Mother's Day I go to Ian's grave, tidy up, pull weeds, brush away lawn mower clippings, and plant new flowers. It's what makes me feel good. For the first year or so after Ian's stillbirth, I used to go visit him during my lunchtime from work, and on the nice days would pull out a lawn chair and sit and eat a McDonald's Happy Meal and leave the toy (I'll never forget during my darkest days of grief, thoughts like "he'll never even be able to enjoy a Happy Meal!") I may incorporate that "tradition" again. It's not a fancy restaurant meal like I had with my parents all those years on Mother's Day, but it sure makes me feel good! Call me crazy, go ahead. It is amazing how our old childhood "traditions" carry through to our hopes and dreams of the future. As a child, McDonald's was a treat where my whole family enjoyed time together and I always hoped to have something similar with my own children.

One thing I've learned over the past 4 1/2 years, to get through "rough spots" and the emotional ups & downs following child/pregnancy loss, you must be selfish once in awhile, do anything that makes YOU feel better. Just the other day I was in my favorite bookshop and bought a book "I Hope You Dance," based on the song by LeeAnn Womack (there is also a CD of the song inside the book). It just made me feel good to treat myself as another Mother's Day approaches.

Mom to Ian, s/b 9/97 (36 wks), Autumn (ectopic 10/99), Karalyn, June (m/c 6/01) and baby March (m/c 3/02)
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