This weekend I had the chance to meet a really amazing woman for lunch. Her name is Sherokee Ilse, and she’s the author of Empty Arms, which is actually the book the hospital sent me home with when you died. But she does way more than write books; she’s pretty much been a crusader for the pregnancy/infant loss cause since her son, Brennan, was stillborn 28 years ago (three years before I was even born!) She has been such a strong voice for survivors of pregnancy/infant loss, and really, has completely changed the type of care women receive from hospital staff. I personally had a pretty wonderful delivery experience (I mean as ‘wonderful’ as it could possibly be, under the circumstances), and that is largely thanks to Sherokee’s work.
So anyway, to have the opportunity to meet her was really special for me. I was honored that she would take time out of her busy schedule to sit down and talk with me, listen to the dreams I have, and offer so much support and guidance. It was amazing to talk face-to-face with someone who not only “gets” the pain of losing a baby, but also more than understands the driving passion I have for making a difference in this community. Someone who, like me, sees themselves as a “woman on a mission.”
At one point during our nearly three-hour conversation, Sherokee talked about her work over the last 28 years has, in a sense, been her way of “parenting” her son. I just love that thought. And I think it's so true. Throughout my pregnancy with you, totally went into "mothering mode." When you died, my new role as a mother, a parent, didn't die with you. And it still hasn't gone anywhere. I don't have other children to put my parenting energy into, so I had to find something to channel it into. At first it was blogging, then I started doing some baby name pictures for other moms, then of course Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope took off.
As your mom, I don't get to rock you to sleep at night, or kiss your chubby fingers and toes, or dress you up in a little poodle costume for Halloween. But I'm still mothering you, in the ways that I can. In my heart, I know without a doubt that had you lived, you would have changed this world. Since you didn't get a chance to make a splash in this world on your own, I see it as my job to do it for you. To give meaning and purpose to your life.
Just look around at this community, and it's obvious so many of us feel the same way. There are so many of us blogging, working on memorial baby name projects, starting nonprofits, participating in walks and 5ks, etc etc, etc. It's incredible, really.
Incredible that as women, the desire to be a mommy to our babies is stronger than even death itself.
I love you so much, Stevie. I am so proud to be your mom, and I promise to "mother" you for as long as I live.