I remember when I announced my pregnancy and you said, “Congratulations Mama.”
I remember when my bump started showing and you squealed, “You look so good, Mama!”
I remember at my baby shower when you asked, “Are you ready for this Mama?”
And then, I had to tell you that my baby died. You told me you were so sorry. You cried with me. But, you didn’t call me Mama.
Oh, how I wish you had still called me Mama.
You were so quick to call me Mama before. All it took were two little lines for you to believe in my motherhood. It was so simple for you to look at my growing belly and call me Mama. Until one day, you just stopped. Why did you stop? Is it because you stopped believing in my motherhood?
Is it because my arms are empty that I have lost the privilege of being called Mama?
I believe I deserve that title more than ever. Not only am I a mother, I am the mother of a child I will never again wrap my arms around. I must parent a child that I will never again see. It is the most difficult kind of mothering there is. I am a mother who needs to hear that word the most. It’s all I have left.
Even though my baby died, you can still call me ‘Mama.’
I know it’s not so easy to call me Mama anymore. To call me Mama is a reminder that my arms are, in fact, empty. It might feel like you are reminding me of all that I have lost.
I will live the rest of my life aware that my child is missing.
I have lost so much that can’t be given back. This one little word is my tie to everything I wished for and can no longer have. By calling me Mama, you can give something back to me.
Your loving words are proof that my journey to motherhood didn’t end when my baby’s life did.
I will never hear my own child call me Mama, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop.
So, please, call me Mama.
Photo by Xavier Mouton Photographie on Unsplash
One thought on “Even Though My Baby Died, You Can Still Call Me ‘Mama’”
Hello. I just read about your blog and had to see it myself. Our daughter Stephanie Marie was stillborn August 1994, at 6 months gestation. Unlike you, I had no prewarning that anything was wrong. I simply didn’t think she was moving as much as she had, so went to emergency. There, the doctor said he could hear her heart beating and actually let me listen through his scope. But he said he wanted to do a little more checking. Relieved that she was fine, I waited for a ultrasound tech to come in. After a few minutes which seemed like an eternity, the tech came in, moved the ultrasound wand over my expanded belly and said….”I’m sorry, I can’t locate a heartbeat”! What? I had just heard it myself!
Stephanie’s umbilical cord had somehow become wrapped around her neck and she had suffocated in my womb. I called my husband and waited for him to come. Then, they induced labor so that I could deliver our daughter. Hardest delivery I experienced in three pregnancies. I remained in the labor and delivery area for over a day once she was delivered, hearing the sounds of other women giving birth, first baby cries and watching friends and family of others coming through with flowers and balloons. I was heartbroken and left alone most of the time except for one nurse named Ruth, who came several times while on her shift to visit with me.
After delivery I was advised by a friend from work to request a picture of my dear departed daughter, because she said “someday you will want to look back”. As she had also experienced a stillbirth, I did as she suggested, asking the hospital staff for a picture of our daughter. My picture is nothing like the one you have of your Dorothy. My daughter is wrapped in a blanket, propped up on a medical waste bin! It is a Polaroid picture and the only one I have.
After leaving the hospital and making funeral arrangements, I had to go to Toys R Us to find a dress small enough to fit our baby. No preemie clothes nearby, so a doll dress would have to do. Thankfully a wonderful friend of mine came with me to help. I don’t think I could have done it by myself.
One year later, on the anniversary of Stephanie’s delivery, I finally got up the nerve to go back to the labor and delivery area at the hospital where she died. I took Stephanie’s Polaroid picture with me and spoke with the nurse at the desk. After telling her who I was she said “Oh, YOU’RE THE ONE”. Curious? I asked what she meant. She told me that after my baby died, they had a massive change in how the assist women who are facing stillbirth. They move them to quieter, more private room of the labor and delivery area. They have a professional in to take pictures for the grieving parents and they also maintain a number of “preemie” dresses and other clothes that they give to the parents to dress their baby.
I still grieve our daughter although it has been over 24 years since she died. A “therapist” I met casually told me that my grief should have been gone long ago, and that I needed help “getting over the death”. I politely thanked her for her offer even though I wanted to tell her to “go to hell”. I will never forget my child. I will never forget her name, how she looked or any of the details and I don’t want to.
We have 2 other daughters, both of which are special to me. One was born w years before Steph and the other born 3 years after. I love all three of our girls.
Thank you for your blog. I know how you feel about losing your precious girl. I pray that she will always be with you and that any nurse or doctor who happens upon your site, gives extra consideration to how they treat a mother and father who have suffered such a loss. Yours was as positive an experience as it could have been. Your are blessed because of it. Mine was not, but thankfully, Stephanie’s death had a purpose, in that it did change how the local hospital now treats mothers and fathers who have such a loss.
Thank you and God Bless you and your family.