An Open Letter to Moms Whose Babies Lived

for moms

My Facebook feed is inundated with “mom posts” because momhood engulfs the lives of so many lovely women I know.

I understand motherhood is very hard, especially in the beginning. It’s hard to work and to raise a child, and it’s hard to be a stay-at-home-mom. As director of a non-profit organization serving children of prisoners, I work with moms and grandmoms who are killing themselves just to get by. For them, the struggles of motherhood — of loving children, tending to their every need, and still trying to make ends meet — can become crushing. So I truly empathize with how difficult the task can be, but  still, I am left not understanding the exclusivity of motherhood.

There are Facebook posts that ask moms to “leave the husband fed and kids in bed” and come to groups exclusively for moms. Post after post and share after share are dedicated to moms only.  I just saw a post encouraging moms to encourage other moms because “we are all in this together” and “only we can encourage [each other].”

My question: who is “we?”

Now, I realize I may be more sensitive than most, but why can’t “we” as women support and encourage all other women? Why can’t we choose to treat all other women with dignity and respect?  Sure, we don’t all have the same daily struggles but we all share the same human condition.

And you see there are lots of moms, like me, whose babies are not here on earth.

Mothers who know that each moment of motherhood is so precious because they had to say hello and goodbye to their child in the same day. And there are other women who wait month after long month for the child that never comes. And there are women still who choose to postpone or halt childbirth altogether to hold an often difficult but meaningful career in a male dominated world. Why can’t “we” all support one another?

I can only speak to my condition, but I know that when your children have died or you have dealt with infertility, your perspective changes. The world changes really. I understand that momhood is hard, but I promise the road I’ve walked and seen other women walk is not easy either.

Those of us dealing with loss and infertility want to love and be there for our moms-of-babies-that-lived friends. We want to rejoice with you in the highs and lows of your momhood – even though we may not fully understand. In return, we want you to be mindful of us too. Don’t just encourage your mom-friends. Broaden your “we.”

If you have a friend dealing with infertility, acknowledge her. Ask her if she wants to talk about it. Encourage her momhood. Is she in her TWW (two week wait)? What does she need as support? Ask about her life. Support her ambitions and compel her strength. Help her keep going and keep shining her light in the midst of her infertility, a struggle you may or may not begin to understand.

If you have a friend who has lost a child or children, acknowledge her. Call her children by name. There will always be an empty unfillable space in her heart that belongs to her child. A space she will never try to fill with anything else. Acknowledge that space and remember her children. Don’t worry that bringing them up will remind her of her loss. She has not forgotten. Look her in the eyes and tell her that you have not forgotten her momhood either.

So to all the moms-of-babies-that-lived, I’m asking that you think about your “we.” Not just on an individual level but also on your social media and your other circles of influence. I know that your momhood may envelop your life and perhaps your social circle too.

I’d like to say I understand, but I don’t. I know that one day I will, and when that day comes I will choose to make a concerted effort to love and encourage all of my fellow sisters, regardless of their station of life.

— Lindsay Fry-Geier

Photo credit: adapted from jimmiehomeschoolmom | Flickr

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Unspoken Grief is a non-profit website dedicated to creating awareness and resources for anyone touched directly or indirectly by miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death.

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