A mother is a mother.

A mother is a mother.

Tova Muchness Gold lives in NYC with her husband, Elie Goldschmidt and two of their four children. She is the founder of Finding my Muchness, an organization dedicated to finding light after darkness, and joy after grief. Today, on International Bereaved Mother’s Day, she shares her story of loss, grief, and graceful acceptance.

“It doesn’t matter if its a boy or a girl- as long as it’s healthy! 10 fingers and 10 toes!”

 That was my general view of pregnancy, a simple philosophy I learned from my mother by the time I was 8 years old and she was pregnant with one of my younger siblings.

 It wasn’t until my early 20’s I learned about her two miscarriages. One before I was conceived and one in my early teens. Barely a blip on the radar, she explained them away as “something was wrong with the pregnancy. This was god’s way of sparing us a damaged baby.”

 Seemed pretty logical to me.

 So when I found myself in a high risk pregnancy with identical twins, I had a difficult time connecting to them. When I explained to my mother the many risks of Twin-to-twin Transfusion Syndrome- a diagnosis we teetered on the edge of for 8 long weeks, she replied “It’s gonna be OK. What’s the worst that can happen?”

 “The worst that can happen?” I replied “They will both die. Wait. Worse than that would be they are both born with severe mental, physical, physiological disabilities, and spend their lives in a  vegetative state. TTTS can be that cruel.”

 “That won’t happen.”  she replied. “They are both healthy now, right?”

 Yes.

 “Everything will be fine.”

 And then, sometime between weeks 23 and 24, they both died.

 I entered into the grief process with the preconceived idea that I would be sad for a while and then, move on. I’d have other children and this “experience” would be something I put behind me. The idea of telling my other children about “my failed pregnancy” seemed unneccessary, morbid and heavily disturbing. After all, this was just a bad “thing” that had happened to me and my husband. It’s not like we’d be telling them about the other “bad things” that happened before ether birth or in their babyhood that they had no reason to know.

 But soon the reality of what we’d lost started to sink in. It wasn’t just a “failed pregnancy”- it was two daughters. Daughetrs we were supposed to raise. Daughters that were supposed to be best friends, with each other and their older sister, who was only 18 months when they died. Daughters who were supposed to have that “special connection” that identical twins have. That were supposed to finish each other’s sentences and argue about who would be wearing pink and who would be wearing purple.

 In order to “move on” from our loss, I needed to first accept it for all that it was. It was not a “failed pregnancy.” It was two daughters whom I love as much as my living daughters, but whom I am not blessed to raise and see grow up in this lifetime.

 It took about a year of grieving silently before I decided I needed to share my daughters with the world. I made a video about them and emailed it to the people in my world to help them understand how much they mean to me.

 It took about another year to start understanding that my daughters were a blessing. A special and unique gift that I was given, to be the mother of two dead babies.

 And that is what I am. I am not a mother of two amazing children, even though that is what others  see when they look at me.

 I am a mother of four children. Two that I watch out for every day, whom I am blessed to be able to  hug and kiss and feed and teach and put in time-out when they misbehave. And two that watch out for me every day, who remind me that every moment is a gift. Who taught me how to really love, how to find empathy, how important it is to feel joy and passion and happiness, and that the ability to feel those emotions is a choice that we all can make, every minute of every day.

 Today, May 5th, is International Bereaved Mothers Day. Because a mother is a mother, whether she looks after her children or her children look after her.