There are many ‘normal’ questions that people ask Mothers in the course of a ‘normal’ carefree life … (I, of course, recognise that no one has either a normal or a carefree life. That’s just something that one family once had in a not very good book.. ) But anyway, for some reason, this is a question that people ask mothers all the time, and one that I really struggle with.
It’s amazing how people who don’t know you very well, think they can ask you such personal questions in the first place. (Just an indignity that all pregnant women, or maybe even all women, have to put up with.) I’ve just asked my colleague who’s come back from maternity leave how she feels about this question and she related her experience; Having three boys she continually gets asked if she is ‘done? or going to go for a girl?’ Almost as though her three sons are not sufficient. We reflected that there is, as usual, no equivalence for this question. For example, when my boss came back from his long holiday, I did not ask him how his two weeks, (unusually, with his wife), had gone or whether or not his marriage was satisfying and he thought they’d stay married.
Nevertheless, it’s also another aspect of motherhood that takes on a very different perspective when your baby has died. How can I possibly be ‘done’?!’ as though I have achieved some great life goal that I set out to meet. Timely and tidy.. ‘‘Yes, I’m all done; two living noisy boys and one dead girl. I think that cover’s it all off. Big tick against my personal mothering goals. Thanks for asking.’’
Seriously, it is very hard to work out your motivations in respect to wanting to have or not wanting to have a baby, when one of your children has died. I think there is always a hidden or secret agenda for those of us who have lost babies, which lies underneath the usual motherhood desires to procreate. And, for me at least, it’s not to replace the child who is gone. I think it’s to right the wrong. To prove to life that I can retain my hope and natural optimism. To overcome the odds that are stacked against our family to be happy and healthy… To fill the gaping hole in my heart… I don’t know.
I try to make my peace with it on a daily basis, but I can tell you that it was not an easy task to give away my travel cot. No, I am not ‘done’. I do not feel ‘done’. And I never will.