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Pregnant, Infertile and Somewhere in Between

I've spent this Mother's Day nine weeks pregnant. From about five weeks on, I had a countdown on my phone to the day. It was a small personal goal of mine: Stay pregnant until Mother's Day. When you've been through early losses, the concept of a countdown doesn't seem as strange as some would think.

To be honest, I was nervous about the day. How would I measure up against the mothers playing peekaboo with their babies? The ones who got pregnant without medical intervention? The mother's who already birthed their child? Was it really my first Mother's Day, or am I just playing pretend and have to wait until next year, when I have a five-month-old? Would my family and friends consider me a mother?

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I remember last year, the first Mother's Day after the loss of my baby, already feeling the delicate balance of holding my shit together and completely losing it tipping. We were seated around the table at my grandparents': my mom, aunts and grandma eating snacks and talking. Tradition stated that the "fathers" waited on the "mothers" and when a family member walked up to us and I asked for some coffee, they waved me off in an offhand manner and laughed, "You're not a mother yet!" And it slipped. I know it did. This family member wouldn't mean that, if they weren't so distracted. I lost baby Adam so early that sometimes I think people let him slip their minds, like some did that day. But the sting of that comment, my breaths coming in short gasps, the "aw-it's-cool" smile frozen to my face, I let the voice in that I tried so hard to keep buried down. That's right, it taunted, you're not a mother! You have no baby here!

I felt caught between infertile and childless, and being able to delight in the day that I have worked so hard to get to.

Somehow I survived that day last year before we were able to finally drive back home, the tears streaming down my face the whole way because I should have had a two-month-old baby, but that baby wasn't there.

So this year, I was understandably nervous. Would I be wished a happy Mother's Day? Or would I end up stuck somewhere in limbo: a mere "mother-to-be"? Though I may have fought desperately for this baby, injecting myself daily with medications and choking down pills meant to keep this baby alive, to some, I may not yet have earned the title of "Mom" until this baby was in my arms. Could I emotionally handle hearing that? Worse, what if my baby isn't recognized at all?

I woke up Sunday full of anxiety; being nine weeks pregnant hadn't done anything to ease the pain that day represented. My husband kissed me, handed me a small box and whispered, "Happy Mother's Day." It was a necklace, of a mother and child around a single pearl: representing Adam, my baby lost two years ago, and the pearl of a tiny miracle residing inside me. I lost it. I hugged him, and blamed it on the hormones, but really I was crying because my husband knew exactly what I needed to wear around my neck that day. My two babies: One in Heaven, one in my womb.

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Overall, it was a weird day. I felt caught between infertile and childless, and being able to delight in the day that I have worked so hard to get to. It didn't matter that my baby wasn't in my arms. She was in me, growing and moving and alive and I as reach up and touch the pendant around my neck, I am reminded of how far I've come and how much this baby is wanted. That's enough to be a mom.

Image via Risa Kerslake

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