The minute you find out you are pregnant your Mama Heart is born. The way you think, feel, react, and approach many things in your life just changes. Some blame it on hormones, but it never really goes away. It’s your Mama Heart inside you, that you have to break off a piece of and let walk around outside when your babies are no longer inside you.
I remember being pregnant with Lillianna, at seventeen years old, watching some cable tv movie, or maybe it was the TV show ER, I watched a lot of that back then, and something happened to someone’s child. I suddenly couldn’t watch it. I had to turn it off. I couldn’t cope with the overwhelming sadness of empathizing with these fictional people on TV. That was the first time I had to wonder how bad it would hurt if anything ever happened to my baby. That was the first time I knew I was forever changed.
I have often turned away from subjects I knew were going to hurt my Mama Heart. I’ve even acknowledged in conversations that I might find something unfortunate, but my Mama Heart found it heartbreaking. I’ve scrolled past articles documenting something horrible happening to another child or baby because I didn’t want my Mama Heart to hurt in the moment. It’s that split second where you try to imagine how horrible it would be if it was your child, and you don’t want to face the thought, so you turn away from it. It’s hard. But, I’ve learned that the fear and thinking about the what-ifs is really not the worst part. The fear of something happening is just gone once it does. *poof* No more swirling what-ifs that can grow into a huge ball of anxiety and worry. It’s all the stuff after that that really gets you in the end.
I’ve not been someone who copes well with other people crying. I just feel so awkward. I want to make it better. I’m just not good at that. I’m good at telling you a witty joke or logical fact, not sympathy. I don’t know what to say or do to make it better. Correction, I used to not know. All the things people say, and we feel can be perceived as empty and routine – they aren’t. The Mama Heart hears them and knows to grab those words and hold on to them when your regular heart can’t right that moment. It feels those non-word things that people want you to know that words don’t seem to embody. So don’t ever feel bad that you don’t know what to say. The Mama Heart can hear you loud and clear.
I’ve learned that the Mama Heart is the source of Mama Grief. It’s grief like you anticipate it to be, but it has an additional twist of pain that comes from that special place in your heart that birthed your babies. It’s a deep, primal hurt unlike any sadness, disappointment, anger, or even joy, I’ve ever felt. It hurts so, so deep. Not only is a piece of your heart shattered and can never be put back together again the way it once was, but the external piece it was once connected to in your child is gone and vacant. That little piece was connected by something innate and essential. If you’ve ever heard a phantom baby cry – that is your Mama Heart trying to connect you and your baby. I’ve heard that cry many times in the past three weeks. My heart is searching for that other piece, but it’s gone.
The grief left behind is so heavy. It’s thick and solid right on top of my chest. I thought I had felt something comparable when we lost our dogs (that were our babies in a time that we were unable to have human babies) suddenly to illness. I was sure that was the worst thing I could have ever endured. Even when we had an early miscarriage after Gabe was a year old, I thought I knew what the worst thing in the world felt like. This grief is ten thousand times bigger, deeper, and darker than those experiences. Not only did I lose everything I had, but I lost all the things yet to come, not just for Antonio and I, but for Gabe too. All the visions of two boys growing up together and sharing so many experiences are just gone. He gets the aftermath of all this to be the rest of his life. I just find that disappointing for him.
The Mama Heart mourns like no other, but I am sometime hopeful. Going back to our Moana connection, the life giving goddess Te Fiti became the raging lava monster Te Ka when her heart was ripped away from her by Maui. Darkness spread out from her in all direction, until one day the heart was found and delivered to Moana. Then after great struggle and faith, Moana restored the heart and Te Fiti was able to bloom again. I look forward to one day having my heart restored. This darkness will not take everything in Gabe’s future. Someday we will remember who we are supposed to be, and we will bloom again.