Am I a Mother?

By Catherine Fritea

In short, yes. But in March 1998, I don’t think I knew how to answer that question until I received a gift in the mail. I opened the mailbox a day before Mother’s Day and I could tell by the envelope that it was a sappy Hallmark. But, it wasn’t my birthday. I headed up my long driveway and slowly started opening the card. “To a Special Mom on Mother’s Day.” My heart stopped for a moment as my hand quivered along the edge of the card. A happy tear dropped onto the words that read, “You are the best mom Daniel could ever have.” A tailspin of emotions led to a very proud sensation. It
was that moment that I realized I am a mother. Somebody else realized it to. She did the same for my husband on Father’s Day.

Daniel Ethan was stillborn on March 14, 1998. He was my first-born son and at 41 ½ weeks pregnant, I could have never been prepared for what was about to happen to my life. You spend all of your pregnancy preparing. First, your diet changes and you become much more aware of smoky rooms and speeding cars. Cautious is an understatement for the way I handled my first pregnancy. Everything by the book! I had a new library in my house from conception to raising toddlers. Halfway through my pregnancy we found out we were having a boy. After that, Daniel was very much a part of our lives. But, nothing prepared us for saying Good-bye before we could say hello. We actually found out about his passing on Friday the 13th. After seventeen hours of anguish, Daniel was brought from what should have been his safe haven into our lives in silence. I thank God we were able to spend some time with Daniel and touch his beautiful face. A few days later, with empty
arms, a bleeding heart, and breasts leaking of milk that was meant to nourish my baby, I went home.

The next months were full of shock, sadness, anger and the desire to know and understand why this had happened. I had worked so hard to do everything right. And, with all losses there is always the guilt. As I worked hard on the healing process through sharing, reading, quiet times and writing, I was amazed at my comfort in reading other stories and poems about parents who lost a baby or child. Parents sharing their most intimate thoughts and pouring their pain into words that only another bereaved parent would understand completely. My real healing started when I connected on an Internet site created by Dr. Michael Berman of Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut. Dr. Berman practices much more than medicine. He practices spiritual healing through loss by putting into words what very few people can. The first poem I read was entitled “Quiet Time.” He wrote about a mother who lost her baby during labor. The poem is only ten lines and I could barely get through the first few. I also met and connected with another mom who lost her baby Stefan and together we would e-mail our thoughts, share poems and stories and encourage each other about our future. I still have not had the opportunity to meet her but she is a gift in my life beyond measure.

Getting through the first year of loss is a journey full of experiences. Trying to maintain the relationships already in your life and thriving on new ones. Hoping your pain will ease and there will be a NORMAL in your life again. Trying to fit in with the same worldviews as everyone else. Until you realize, you are not the same. And that’s o.k. My life as a mom to Daniel really made sense as I was driving down an expressway and looked up into the clouds as I passed the exit to where he was buried at The Gates of Heaven. Warmth and peace wrapped me liked a soft comforting blanket. I began to notice how beautiful and serene everything was. Daniel was connecting with me just as we had already done. From that day on I began to feel a purpose and strong desire to reach out to others and to help them achieve a peace after loss. I understood the beauty of our lives no matter how short or long. I respect more, I love more and I listen more. There is so much our life has to offer us if we just open our hearts to guidance. I felt so fulfilled that I knew even if I never had any other children, my life was good. I had found my peace through mysterious and profound grief. I had to look deep inside myself and find the purpose and the meaning of all the relationships in my life.

Although I experienced another pregnancy loss seven months after losing Daniel, I now have a beautiful one-year old named Nikolas Vaughn. Nikolas was born with a cyst on his liver and had to undergo a four-hour life threatening operation at The Children’s Hospital at Yale in Connecticut when
he was two months old. The cyst was benign and today he is a healthy, thriving, miracle baby. He brings joy to my heart everyday and just when I think I can’t love him anymore than I do, he wrinkles his nose and reaches out to me muttering Ma..Ma.

In closing, I know how difficult it must be to be on the other end of a tragic loss. To be the family member, friend, clergy or co-worker of someone who has just lost a family member. I believe God instantly gives anyone who is moved by the reality of a tragedy the credentials for grief counseling.
Usually, the bereaved person does not want to discuss theology or philosophies right away, they just need another person to be there. All the rest comes in time. Peace is ours for the asking.

I have established an on-line bereavement and sympathy resource center for anyone experiencing the loss of miscarriage, stillbirth or infant or loss of any kind. Also on the site you will find inspirational angels, poems and books.

For sponsors we always have unique and wonderful raffles that benefit our “Angel Sent” Program that sends birthstone angels and poems out to bereaved parents along with other Rainbowmaker services. Join us at RainbowMaker at


Reprint Permission
Reprinted with permissions from RainbowMaker, Inc. Originally published in the Healing Garden Journal, Michigan.

RainbowMaker Poetry Contest
Call for Submissions: Follow Your Dreams Poetry Contest @ RainbowMaker
Theme: Follow Your Dreams
Submit: You can submit via web form on their site or snail mail
Content: 200 words or less
Deadline: Winners notified October 1, 2001
Snail mail: RainbowMaker, P.O. Box 3285, Milford, CT 06460

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