featured post: “Worst Expectations: Motherhood Lost”

We hope you all enjoyed our tribute to Mothers of all types last week. (If you missed it you can go here for a link round-up of all our great guest posts.) My Mother’s day was great, I got lunch out, cards, a nice present and my husband told me we could do anything I wanted for the day, <insert evil laugh>. Poor husband needs to not give me such open ended options. My day was great, yet it was also bittersweet.

Having miscarried and also having known the loss of a failed adoption I feel Mother’s Day will always hold a tinge of wistfulness, a memory of sadness. And even had I not had those two experiences, I still remember the Mother’s Days when we were trying to get pregnant. I was bitter and angry at this holiday, I felt like a Mom already, I wanted to be a Mom, yet Hallmark and society told me this day, this day was not for me.

Serene Jones reflects on her Mother’s Day experience of losing a pregnancy four days before this holiday:

Fifteen years ago, however, my tears were bitter. In fact, I woke up on Mother’s Day of 1995 and couldn’t get out of bed. I hated the thought of motherhood. In fact, I probably hated all mothers.

My wretched state back then had nothing to do with my own mother. Rather, it was caused by a feeling of personal failure, and a sense that my own body had betrayed me. Only four days earlier I had miscarried a much-wanted, seventeen-week pregnancy.

From the second you and your partner decide to become parents you are already envisioning that child. Will they have my eyes? Will you enroll them in piano lessons or soccer class? What color hair will they have? And when you find out you are pregnant, or you have been matched for an adoption, in that instant your future child’s entire life is played out. It is played out in your mind, as you envision the birth, toddler years, school age years, college, etc. You picture it all. You think about how you’re going to handle the teen years (OMG!), how you’ll discipline, what traditions from your childhood you want to continue or change.

And when that is taken away, via miscarriage or adoption that fails to go through, it is very much a death. Not just a death of a couple thousand cells that was growing in your womb. It is the death of an entire life. I mourned the death of an entire life, twice, and for many of you that number is higher.  Serene touches on this and why it is different from other loss:

Because loss-of-motherhood is a suffering like no other. By the time I miscarried, I’d had my fair share of disappointment. There were failed relationships, the death of one dear friend to AIDS, another to a car accident, and a few of my cherished life goals had already slipped from my grasp. But none of this pain prepared me for the feeling of utter helplessness that came about when my pregnancy ended.

In those seventeen weeks, I envisioned my baby’s hair color, her first day at school, his college graduation, her middle-aged years, and even his presence at my funeral. Being pregnant overwhelmed my imagination with a wide, mysterious future stretching out ahead. Then, without warning, that future disappeared. I was a puddle of lost hopes.

I hope Mother’s Day was a joyful experience for all of you. If it was also bittersweet, I get it, all of us at PAIL ‘get it.’ You’re not alone, and this community here is proof that your experiences, your emotions, matter. This community is here to celebrate you and your path to motherhood, and to remember that the path is not always smooth and shiny. Here’s to you all, thanks for making PAIL what it is today.

I hope you’ll read Serene Jones’, Worst Expectations: Motherhood Lost , and let us know what you think. Comments are turned on, as this is not a feature post of a personal blogger. Please share your thoughts with us.


Serene Jones is the author of Trauma and Grace: Theology in a Ruptured World, which explores the relationship between grace, redemption, and the trauma of reproductive loss. Rev. Dr. Jones is also the first female president of Union Theological Seminary and is a graduate of Yale University.


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