6 Gifts – A Mother Never Forgets
This is me at 38 weeks pregnant.
This is my body: pregnant or nursing for 10 consecutive years.
This is my deepest creative contribution: giving, sustaining, birthing and raising new life.
This is a snapshot of my life. And that is all this is: one moment in my life captured in a portrait.
I remember the ache.
My husband consoling me as I sat motionless in my bed with my empty womb.
I remember hearing radio static. Feeling cramping, dizziness. Stumbling up and down the hall from my bed to the bathroom again and again as the life inside continued to slip away. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry baby.” I kept saying over and over. And then it was over. But actually, losing a child is never over. A mother never forgets.
I will never stop contemplating how the short life and death of our little Jude Francis made room for this new life inside my womb. Jude died last October. And now baby number six is due this October.
I couldn’t go into labour without acknowledging that we are a family with six children.
I am so grateful for each of my babies; each one an unmerited gift.
Life after loss is incredibly humbling. I thought my womb was the safest place on Earth. I thought I was good at having babies. I thought miscarriage happens… to other people. What value did Jude’s short life hold, or my own? I pondered these and countless other thoughts. I kept coming back to these words:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am made strong.” Corinthians 12:9-10.
And in my weakness, I was met with many new and old consoling friends. To my friends still looking for a husband or wife and wanting to start a family. To my friends who silently struggle with infertility. To my friends who’ve experienced miscarriage, stillborn or infant loss, loss of a child to sickness, suicide, an accident and other kinds of loss. Thank you for opening your hearts to me this past year. Our family and friends loved us back to life with each act of kindness.
Pregnancy after loss is incredibly humbling. I carried distrust of my body and anxiety throughout this pregnancy. I am grateful for the ways my eyes have been opened to the world of hidden suffering.
Nearly a year later, Jude continues to come into my life in the most unexpected moments. I am still his mother and he my son. And he continues to transform my interior life and turn my gaze from ground-level to the glory of God.
As most of us know by now, life isn’t as it appears in a nicely lit, staged snapshot. But it’s good to let our lights shine and to celebrate the joy that triumphs over the woundedness and pain we each uniquely experience throughout life. Here’s to this final stretch of pregnancy (due date Oct. 6). Praying for a safe labour, blessed birth and all the unfolding of life that is to follow!
Thank you Victor Panlilio for capturing my light at the end of the tunnel with your photographic talent!
Sara Francis is a Catholic wife, mother and writer. Her and her husband Ben live in Calgary with their five children. As a family, they carry the memory of their late son/sibling in their hearts and lovingly pray for Jude's intercession. She is a stay-at-home mother and freelance writer for Faithfully, the Diocese of Calgary magazine. Sarah is the past co-ordinator of St. Gianna's Mother's Group at St. Luke parish in Calgary.