I am sitting at the table with rice and veg in front of me, the dog is asleep, the radio is humming away in the background and the light is shifting from day to dusk.
As I sit and eat, the hum of the radio starts to filter in. I start to listen to a beautiful and heart-breaking narrative. The segment shares songs that have been a part of a significant moment in someone’s life, tonight’s story spoke of a mother who gave birth to a little girl and she said she couldn’t believe how lucky she was. As the story unravelled I found I was struggling to eat, a lump was rising in my throat, my chest felt tight and my eyes were brimming with tears. The song brought about comfort to the Mum who sadly lost her baby at 7 months old. The mother’s story spoke to her courage by embracing every moment with her little girl, as she knew that she would not be with her for long.
As I sat and felt the sadness rise through me, I wondered can I ever relate to the loss of a child, to something I can never have. Is the sadness I feel the same, is it different, is it another part of me that will be separated from motherhood, or is there a shared emotion?
This I can not answer as I will never birth a child, so I will never feel the loss of a child, it is only one that I can imagine is inexplicable pain, and sadness that must engulf every sense of a mothers being.
How can I sit here and type a comparison, simply I can not, but I can wonder if it’s possible to grieve for something I can never have.
Grief to me, is a darkness, an unknown that holds a sense of beauty deep within. I have experienced many losses in my life and those losses travel with me. Through the losses I have experienced beauty in memories, noting the small things that matter, having things around me that bring me joy and remind me of those I have lost. These bring me comfort and a light that fills up the darkness shifting it to a state of beauty.
I experience these as known losses, but what about the unknown losses, the indescribable, unfathomable and intangible side to the grief I feel, as I do feel it.
The loss I feel comes in waves, and sits deep within me, it is not a grief that has a big voice, it has low shallow whisper, but its there and its real and runs through my body and soul, making me ache through my very being.
How do I write this, how do I put words to something that feels invisible.
I can’t touch it, see it, or name it but its real. Does this grief speak of not being able to give birth, to carry a child, or is it speaking to the feeling of displacement as I witness friends experience the birth of their families.
I feel it is a culmination of both and more that I cannot name.
It feels empty in the pit of my stomach, the lump is rising through my chest as I type, the sense of subtle shift of muscles from relaxed to taught, my fists lifting of the keyboard to clench, before returning to hit the keys with more ferocity, jaw aching as my teeth push down on each other and as I close my eyes to see if I can breath through the feelings surging through my body. Then it passes, and there is stillness, another wave has passed, but like the sea there will be another. Some days are calm, others the waters are choppy, turbulent and the waves come in full force, crashing and colliding with my thoughts and body, a halt in motion as I stop and listen to that quiet whisper aching to scream from the pit of my stomach, to let it out and speak to the truth of not being able to have children. The truth in the darkness, the light and the hidden depths of beauty found within. I am not grieving for what may have been, for the child I can not bear I am grieving for the loss of placement I feel, the sense of aloneness, the loss of voice, the loss of my feeling of femininity and the loss of celebrating a life that is full without having a child.
I wish to embrace this feeling as it rises through me, give it a voice, speak my truth, share my truth and bring light and shine it on the beauty of the women who cannot or choose not to have a child.
I am grieving for what I can not have, but I am celebrating the loss, shining a light on the darkness and bringing light to the beauty of my life as a woman who can not have children.
Written by Laura Cave-Magowan
Illustration: Laura Cave-Magowan