Trigger Warning: This post contains themes of miscarriage and pregnancy loss.
You were five months old the first time you said “mama.” You locked eyes on me as I entered the room, and you named me loud and clear. “Mama.”
When I tell this story, people smile and remind me that babies don’t really know what words mean. That you didn’t know I was “mama.” Those beautiful syllables were simply sounds. A stretching of the vocal cords. Experimentation.
It’s funny, the hoops people will make us jump through to earn a simple title. In my mind, I had been Mama for years. Ever since the first strip turned pink. To you, I was Mama at just five months old. But for so many others it would be months before you could possibly see that “Mama” was me.
Do you know the power of a name? Shakespeare once tried to make us believe that a rose would be no different should we call it a weed. But if a rose believed itself to be a weed, would it really be so sweet? Baby, haven’t you seen the dandelion that for every child is magic mowed over by fathers hell-bent on grass and green?
I was twenty-five the first time I turned a pregnancy test, and ten weeks the first time I started to bleed. I spent Mother’s Day weekend on bed rest, trying to save a baby the doctor failed to realize I had already lost.
That Sunday, I wanted somebody, anybody to call me “Mama.” To recognize my maternity. But nobody, not anybody believed my baby could possibly still be alive. So I lay in bed, read reports of how Princess Kate had just stolen my favorite baby girl name, and consoled myself with thoughts of next year and the Mother’s Day feast that would be.
The day I lost my baby, no one called me “Mama.”
Twice I loved and twice I lost, but to the world, this wasn’t motherhood. On every Mother’s Day for three years I cried, not because I was childless but because the world refused to count my children.
And now you were here, saying the words I’d ached to be mine, and no one would let me have them.
Baby, they didn’t know what you know.
If you call me Mama, I’ll chase the stars for you. Every wishing star you see streak bright across the sky. I’ll catch it, and save it, and bring that star home for you. Put it in a jar for you, for someday when you’re ready to make one come true.
If you call me Mama, I’ll lace my armor tight for you. Keep my scabbard at my side for you. Hold that sword high for you. But only if you want me to.
If you call me Mama, I’ll rock through the night with you. Sing “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You.” Always hold tight to you. Drift off to sleep with you.
Baby, if you call me Mama, I’ll cry every tear for you. Hold all that fear for you. Have strong shoulders to bear weight for you. Always be there with you.
And maybe, just maybe, you’ll grow to understand someday why Mama has to fight to let go. Why I get angry instead of scared and sad instead of mad and numb when my heart is too full.
Because Baby, as long as you call me Mama, you’ll always be my rainbow.
Interested in reading more about our pregnancy journey? Try For My Child With Wings: A Letter to the Child I Lost or By the Numbers: A Hopeful Mother’s Journey to her Rainbow Baby.