Our culture is shockingly poor at making any space for the experience, or even the possibility, of loss and grief. It’s no wonder that we protect the secret of pregnancy (and ourselves) until we feel we’ll receive a warmer, safer reception. We may have heard these messages enough over the years through pervasive cultural norms and experiences that we are telling ourselves the same things, to make it easier. To make it less painful. But what if this cultural norm does not actually serve us well? What if it isolates us when what we really need is connection and silences us when we need a voice?
There were 10 of us. I came first and helped raise the rest. I did not want my mother’s life. I did not want to alternate between being pregnant and breastfeeding for twenty years, nor did I want the underlying lack of autonomy and choice that represented to me. Yet still, her legacy and example ran deep, and I was always sure that whatever edition of motherhood I might someday desire would come easily to me. I wasn’t prepared for what actually happened.