Feelings of Motherhood

Someone posted a query on facebook the other day asking whether or not a woman who had conceived several times but then suffered a loss with each pregnancy could still be considered a mother. An interesting question, I thought, with so many different ways to go about answering. From a legal perspective, of course, the answer would be no, from a medical perspective, same answer. I can’t even begin to unpack this from a mental health perspective but I can share an answer that comes from my heart.

Like so many of my colleagues, I, too, suffered losses. And the losses, although followed by the eventual joy of my twins, remain with me, some twenty years later. Well, actually, it isn’t the losses that remain with me, it is the pregnancies. Yes, I was mother to the life that was growing inside me, I knew it then, I know it now. Secretly, I have always thought of myself as having had four babies, not two. My twins thrived and were healthy enough to have been born, but there was bonding, there was emotion, there was a sense of motherhood that came with each pregnancy, I allowed myself those experiences and I have no regrets that I indulged.

There came a day, with each pregnancy, that I carried on not just for myself but for the life inside me. I wasn’t just eating for two, I was breathing, sleeping, thinking, walking through each day, for two. I was a mother, perhaps in waiting, perhaps “to-be” but in my heart, already a mother. No-one can take from me the feelings I had during those early days of pregnancy, no-one can tell me that the bonding wasn’t real, I nurtured, protected and had plans for each of the lives I carried, I was their mother.

I don’t know the woman who asked the facebook question, I don’t know her history, I don’t even know if she is still trying for a baby but I do know enough to offer her my support. Mother’s Day has just passed, a particularly difficult time for those struggling with infertility. It might seem nonsensical to those who have never been pregnant but I suggest that whether or not a baby was born, for every woman who has known the joy of pregnancy that you allow yourself, perhaps quietly, maybe privately to celebrate the brief moments in which you knew, in your heart, the experience of being a mother.

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