Over Mother's Day weekend Errol and I had the chance to spend the night alone at the coast. For a previous occasion my dad had given us a night at a hotel overlooking the ocean and we had never taken him up on it. In a flash of brilliance I realized that it would be quite some time before I was willing to leave a baby for an overnight and that we should take advantage of this opportunity. Coincidentally, it happened to be the Saturday night of Mother's Day weekend: a prime chance to sleep in for Mother's Day.
My dad came into town to stay overnight with Makenna and Errol and I headed down to the coast (an hour's drive from our house). We had great weather: sun breaks between light rain showers; the best you can ask for at the Oregon Coast in May. It was so relaxing to have time, just the two of us. We mostly just rested and talked without interruption. We had a gas fireplace in our room and slept with it on and the balcony door open so we could enjoy the sound and the smell of the ocean.
A curious thing happened the morning of Mother's Day. Multiple people noticed my pregnant belly (and frankly, only the very unobservant don't due to its size!) and smiled at me. Then I was wished a Happy Mother's Day. Since I didn't have Makenna with me I was taken aback that I was considered a mother while pregnant. This is a wonderful thing but a confusing one.
We have such a double standard, I feel, about this in our culture. My experience with losing Livia was that many people feel she doesn't really "count". She wasn't really a living person (no birth or death certificate was issued) so therefore she isn't really my child. But yet, the unborn child in me qualifies me as a mother. The mixed messages I get from others really cloud my vision and my ideas. It is that question: "How many children do you have?" that haunts me. I never know the right answer. For all of those people who wished me a Happy Mother's Day over the weekend, apparently the right answer is that I have 2 children and another on the way. But, unfortunately, I've met other people that disagree and feel I have 1 child and another on the way. For those people, Livia doesn't even exist. I feel I need to champion her and other infants and children who have died by always including her.
While playing in our backyard the other day Makenna began chatting with the visiting grandchild of our neighbor through the fence. He asked her if she had a sister or a brother. I watched as she puzzled over the question and her answer. She finally answered no and left the conversation. Later, we talked at length about her response because she was worried she hadn't said the right thing. She didn't know what to say about Livia because she was afraid he'd ask where she was and why she wasn't out playing also. And she didn't know if she could include the baby, especially since she knows the gender but is sworn to secrecy.
I feel so remiss because I hadn't thought to talk about this situation with Makenna and what she might say. She's one who likes to worry over things and plan them out. I feel like I should have realized that she'd get asked this question and would worry over her answer. We discussed that even I have trouble knowing how to answer this question and that I sometimes I change my answer. I don't tell the checker at the grocery that I have 2 children but I do tell people I think I'm going to be friends with. She explained to me that she didn't feel like telling the boy about Livia and we discussed that there are times that I don't either. I let her know that she is welcome to include Livia or not include her as she sees fit. She was so relieved to know that it was up to her and that she'd be supported by me regardless of her answer.