Mother's Day Meant Something Different To Me Once I Lost A Child

When Chloe D'Souza miscarried in 2012, she knew that she would never be the same person again

It's easy to wish someone "Happy Mother's Day", but would you ever wish someone a "Happy Bereaved Mother's Day"? Sunday 7 May is International Bereaved Mother's Day and I am a heartbroken, bereaved mother. We lost our son Caleb Daniel D'Souza on August 30, 2012. 

At 12 weeks pregnant, we discovered that there were some anomalies and I was sent for further testing. At 15 weeks I had an early anatomy scan where we learned our baby had a rare condition that impacts 1 in 500,000 pregnancies. We were told his condition was "incompatible with life". My husband and I were given a few minutes alone to absorb this earth shattering news. We looked at each other and just knew there was no question. We both wanted to continue the pregnancy until our baby felt it was time for him to go.

We were given until around the 20-week mark, where generally serious conditions end in miscarriage, but I carried Caleb to term. He definitely was a fighter, against all odds. Every morning I woke up wondering if today was THE day we would lose him. In the end, I was induced and I believe that the Pitocin gave me extremely intense contractions and that it was possibly too much for him to handle in my womb. He would not have survived a long, healthy life but all I wanted was to hold him for a few minutes, alive, in my arms. Instead, Caleb was stillborn, and we just had a little time with him to say our hellos, and at the same time, our goodbyes. 

Being a bereaved mother is not someone you hope to become. It's a title you could never imagine for yourself, or for any mother you know. Being a bereaved mother not only means you lost your child, but also that you are tattooed with a permanent hole in your heart. When you feel your brightest, there is always a small piece of you that won't allow yourself to experience full happiness. 

Every year, it becomes easier to bear the title of a Bereaved Mother, and time does help to heal the wounds. I wouldn't say mine are fully healed, but rather a lifelong process. Almost five years later and I still visit Caleb's grave regularly to tidy and decorate for different holidays. I take the boys so that they grow up to understand that visiting their brother's grave is a normal part of life. I don't want them to be afraid, and thankfully they're not. They blow bubbles and help tidy and decorate. When we drive off they always say "Bye, baby Caleb! Visit you next time!" It makes me smile every single time. 

Holidays and special occasions are always difficult, and Mother's Day is no exception. Some mothers yearn for some quiet time alone or wish for a getaway with friends. I love to spend time with our boys on Mother's Day; the boys who call me Mom, Mommy, and Mama. Since Caleb isn't here with us, I go to visit him. I bring flowers to him since I know in my lifetime I will never receive a bouquet from him. 

A mother gives life to her child, while a bereaved mother must permanently say goodbye. We eventually learn how to move forward and live our new life without one of our children. We learn to be at peace while always remembering our lost, but wanted child. We are changed women, some of whom are unrecognizable on the inside. Every bereaved mother I've met has told me they are a different person and I fully agree with that.

I know my priorities became obvious to me after losing Caleb. I cared less about what others thought of me, regardless of our relationship. I became more guarded and protective. I have times of high anxiety that those close to me can't comprehend. Time and time again, I've heard people tell me how strong I am, but I feel like I have no other choice. All of these characteristics are part of who I've become as a bereaved mother.

To all the Bereaved Mothers, I wish you peace in your heart especially today, and always.

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