The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Saturday, March 01, 2008


Two Boys, Less One

My two sons were born four months prematurely. Every one calls them twins, but secretly I wince at the word because they are really triplets. Their oldest brother did not live long enough to even make it to the intensive care unit. It is such a long and complicated story that when a stranger approaches cooing, “What beautiful twins,” it is easier to respond with the appropriate niceties.

People ask which boy was born first and I want to shout, “Neither!” but I lie and point at the second eldest.

Before things went wrong I had mapped out scenes from our future. I think every parent does. Whether it is your baby’s first smile, how you will look walking down the street as a mom, or where your child will go to school. I suspect the image is different for everyone. I had a picture of what it would be like to be wheeled to the front doors of the hospital clutching three baby boys. How everyone would turn their heads and say, “Triplets!” I have always liked to watch this imagined scene unfold.

I am an OB/GYN so I see it a lot. The father or partner nervously sprints to the car and as the mother passes by cradling her precious bundle, almost everyone smiles and remarks on their baby. It is hard not to get caught up in the excitement of a newborn. The mothers are like beauty pageant winners, clutching a baby instead of roses, their faces beaming with excitement as they glide through the hallways as if they were taking their first turn on the stage before an adoring crowd.

No one looks at the mother without a baby. We are the invisible.

I had come to the hospital pregnant with three boys and I now had two, who had a tenuous grasp on life at best. Even as a doctor, I do not think that I understood the gravity of the situation until I left the building. The sound of the car door closing was like punctuation for all that pent-up emotion. I began to sob. I have never felt so completely devastated. I was crying for my son who died, for my boys who might not live, and for all the dreams that had vanished.

A mother should never have to leave the hospital without her baby.

As a doctor, I still come and go from a hospital daily, just as I have done for more than 20 years. To this day, I have to turn away when I see those smiling mothers as they glide in their wheelchairs toward the hospital doors as it reminds me of how I felt getting into our car so many years before.

I can never escape it.

It is a visceral reminder of all that was lost. These are wounds that cannot heal. I know it is not their fault that my pregnancy did not go as planned, that after months of intensive care I left the hospital with two critically ill boys instead of three healthy ones, but I cannot help it.

Seeing those happy, smiling parents is a reminder of all those original dreams long discarded, but never forgotten.

By Jennifer Gunter


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Hi Jennifer, thanks for sharing this, it is very touching and throught-provoking. Kristy
Thanks very much for sharing this. Powerful writing, made even more powerful by the fact you are a doctor.

Marianne Lonsdale
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