Sands Volunteer Parent Supporter, Narissa Miller, whose firstborn died at 24 weeks gestation, shares how International Bereaved Mother’s Day — the first Sunday in May each year — can provide comfort and hope to all the women whose babies and children are longer here to celebrate with them.
“Mother’s Day is a special day that, for most of us, means we look forward to spending time with our families. It’s an opportunity to show our appreciation to our mum by spoiling her and giving her a day off from cooking and other household chores.
Growing up as one of four children, I always knew that at some stage in my life I wanted to be a mum. On April 16, 1998, that day came as the result of a twisted turn of events in which our daughter, Kalin, was born at 24 weeks gestation. The experience was surreal. I could never have imagined this happening to me.
Mother’s Day that year didn’t feel like a day to celebrate, instead, I felt a deep sadness that was coupled with the guilt I felt around not wanting to celebrate with my mum.
It was hard to pretend to be happy when I felt like my world had been turned upside down. Only weeks ago, I had given birth, held my beautiful tiny baby briefly, and then said goodbye.
I remember feeling confused. I had been excited (and if I’m honest, apprehensive) about becoming a parent, but the whole experience and outcome was not what I had expected. Could I now say I was a mother? When people asked if I had children what would I say? I felt people only wanted to hear about any children I had, not about any I had lost.
For the next two years, when Mother’s Day came around it was just another anniversary that reminded me of what could have been. My hopes and dreams of being a mother had become a reality for a brief moment in time, but then it was taken away.
I had become a mother, but like so many others (as I came to realise) I was a mother without a living child. On Mother’s Day my beautiful husband would wish me Happy Mother’s Day and I would cry.
International Bereaved Mother’s Day, which usually falls a week before Mother’s Day, was created to acknowledge and provide comfort for those women whose babies and children have died.
To mark this day I join other bereaved mum at a Sands International Bereaved Mother’s event, to not only remember my daughter, but to do something else that I feel is important — to show understanding and compassion to women who are mothers even though their precious babies are not on this earth.
I have been fortunate to go on to have two children with whom I celebrate Mother’s Day. I understand (as only someone who has experienced loss can), that the experience of miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death is difficult and I feel it is important to recognise that it happens to so many people we know and love.
This type of loss is an experience that shapes our life story. As we know not all stories of being a mother have a happy ending, but that does not mean we are not mothers.”
Sands is a not-for-profit organisation that provides support, information and hope to parents and families who experience the death of a baby.
For more information visit www.sands.org.au