What makes a woman a mother?
Is it the birth of a child, the badge of victory over labor pains and carrying to full term? Is it feeding hungry mouths, tucking in sleepy eyes? Is it holding a baby in her arms?
What about those who have held their baby and given it to another? Or those whose child has left this earth?
I held a baby once in my womb. It was only for a handful of days, a few weeks, but I felt a mother’s love well up from within. I knew it was a boy; I felt it deep within my core. I felt my body softening, changing to house this precious gift, and just as quick as the joy of motherhood begun, it retreated, as my body purged the beautiful baby to be. Doubled over for a few hours in excruciating pain, I wept for my child- at the thought of my precious baby going down the plumbing, to join the sewage and waste.
The day I miscarried I read Matthew 1:23, “Behold a virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel which means ‘God with us’.” I had cried out, “God why are you hurting me?” And within a half hour my friend showed up with a verse from Jeremiah: (29:11) “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'” We cried, prayed and named my baby, Emmanuel Jeremiah.
I still love Emmanuel. I never knew the feeling of holding him in my arms, but I know the feeling of letting him go. I have dreamed about him in heaven, and those are wonderful dreams to awake from, as I know one day I will hold him close with a mother’s love. I have drawn his picture- I know his smile, his laugh, his eyes. I recently lost a baby dove named Galilee, and the night she died, I dreamt that my grandpa handed Emmanuel the dove and said, “here is a gift from your mother, she loved this dove and she loves you. She wants you to care for this bird now.”
To science, my body had a fetus within it for a little while. To friends, I shouldn’t worry, I can try again and one day be a mom and celebrate Mother’s Day with them.
Yesterday, I filled my schedule with plans celebrating all the “real moms” but in the quiet moments, my mind would drift to knowing Emmanuel would have only one more month to go before he would have been born, and yesterday I would have been a mother to be. Only, I am not a mother to be.
So, I try to focus on the things I do well, teach art, love kids, love others, and as I go to sleep each night, I secretly hope for those rare glimpses into Heaven to see my dear, sweet Emmanuel.