The strength of women

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Clunk! She heard the dull, metallic thud as the medical staff walked away. She tried to ask the doctors what sex the baby was, tried to find out why she had miscarried. Was it a strain from pushing the car, after they had broken down between Adelaide and Melbourne? Was it something she had done wrong? Her husband was interstate. She had called and was waiting for him to fly back. The medical staff answered her questions by saying they didn’t know. They told her it didn’t really matter, because it wasn’t really a baby; not yet anyway. 

But to her it was. She’d heard the clunk as they dropped her baby into the pan to carry it away. They didn’t understand but that made it real. 

Like so many of life’s celebrations, Mother’s Day can hold tinges of sadness—for those who have lost children, those who have lost mothers, those who can never be mothers.

My mother had a miscarriage. Between my younger brother and I there is a three and-a-half year gap. During that time, my mother fell pregnant but lost the baby. 

In preparing for this editorial I spoke to Mum about the experience. She was open and told me things she’d never really talked about before. 

The pain of miscarriage is usually hidden, often brushed over. The pain of losing a child is immense; the hurt of never having children can be awkward, even ostracising or demoralising. 

Now that my wife and I are married, we inevitably get the next life question: “When are you having kids?” “C’mon,” people say, “we want to see your kids, they’ll be cute, can we babysit?” We are at the age where all of our friends are having babies—the wedding invites on our fridge are starting to be crowded out by those for baby showers. We joke and say “we’re not ready yet”. But at the back of our minds is a nagging doubt—the doubt that we may never be able to have children of our own. 

While we’ve been married for a year and-a-half and are doing nothing to prevent it, we haven’t yet fallen pregnant. You see my wife has a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome, which means she will have trouble falling pregnant. We know it means we may never have our own children. Sometimes it’s hard to think about, and it’s always hard to talk about.

Mother’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate some of the strongest women in our lives. But I want to also pay tribute to those who aren’t mothers. I have aunties I love who have been like a mother to me and don’t have their own children. There are women in our churches and communities who invest in us with their time and energy—some choose not to have children, others don’t have a choice. This Mother’s Day I encourage you to bring flowers to church or send a card to someone you know who may not have children to receive them from. 

Like so many of life’s celebrations, Mother’s Day can hold tinges of sadness—for those who have lost children, those who have lost mothers, those who can never be mothers. Let’s remember the mourning and the marginalised—they are close to God’s heart. And at times like this, they need to be held close to ours. 

I asked my mum how she felt after her experience. As she lay in the hospital, my mother felt grateful. Next to her was a woman who’d had five miscarriages and would never have another one. She had no living children. My mum already had me and hoped she could have more. She held onto hope. That is the strength of women.

Jarrod Stackelroth is associate editor of RECORD.