Losing a child is the hardest thing a mother (or any parent) can go through. Whether via miscarriage, stillborn, or the child dies at any point after birth, the pain of that loss is excruciating. This husband’s wife experienced this before they met. Now, nearly 10 years after the tragedy, he’s asking her to stop calling herself a mom.
He posted his story on the popular Reddit forum Am I The A**hole (AITA) to ask the internet if he is wrong in his request. (1)
Husband Asks Wife To Stop Calling Herself A Mom After Losing Her Baby Almost 10 Years Ago
The original poster (OP) opens up by explaining that he and his wife have been together for five years and married for three. Before they met, when his wife was 17 years old, she got pregnant with someone else. (1)
She went into labor at 32 weeks, and after giving birth, her baby boy died just five days later from a lung infection. His wife still visits her child’s grave every year on the anniversary of his death. This, he says, he has no problem with. What he does want, however, is for her to stop calling herself a mom. (1)
“When people ask if we have any kids, I say no and she says she had a baby but it passed away. It makes people really uncomfortable and we’ve talked about how not everyone needs to know about her dead kid.” (1)
The Tattoo That Put Him Over The Edge
For years, his wife talked about wanting to get a tattoo of the baby’s name and handprints. He says he has always been reluctant for her to do it for many reasons, one being that he doesn’t like tattoos in general. Earlier this month, on the anniversary of what was supposed to be her actual due date, she finally went and got the tattoo done. (1)
She posted a photo of the tattoo on Facebook accompanied by a long caption talking about her experience. He says in the caption she wrote about how “even though she wasn’t his earth side mother for long he taught her so much” and “How being his mother was the greatest gift she could ask for.”. (1)
“I told her to stop calling herself a mother and posting depressing stuff on Facebook. It was almost a decade ago, and she’s still holding on to it. What is she going to say when we have kids? That she has this many kids alive and this many dead?” he wrote. “She told me I was being an insensitive **** head, and it’s no different than if her baby died at 6 months old. She still held it, fed it with her body, loved it, and created a space in her world for it.” (1)
That night she slept in the guest room and had not spoken to him since the fight. He says that he thinks she needs to get over it because “it was almost 10 years ago and she’s acting like it’s fresh.” (1)
‘Stop Calling Your Self Mom’: Reddit’s Response
As you might imagine, Reddit reacted rather negatively towards him. In fact, some of the comments were so nasty, that Reddit actually turned off commenting for this post because of it.
His cruel lack of empathy for his wife shocked most of the readers.
“let me paint a picture for you.
At 32 weeks, your wife may have been given the option to induce labor and try to save the premie
baby. That baby very well could have lived.
At 32 weeks, if the baby died in utero, your wife packed a bag and went to the hospital to deliver a
baby she knew was gone. A nurse would have asked her if she wanted to hold the baby or if she
wanted a picture to keep. Depending on the state she lived in, she had to have a birth certificate issued. She had to decide whether to donate, cremate or bury her baby’s body.
At 32 weeks, that baby had a name. A crib. A car seat. Blankets. Tiny socks.
At 32 weeks, even strangers on the street would have asked about her baby and when she was due.” they wrote. “Your wife experienced the hardest and most heartbreaking parts of motherhood. Just because her child is no longer with her doesn’t mean that she isn’t a mother.
Your wife delivered her baby, heard their cries, may or may not have been allowed to hold them and saw them whisked away to NICU, then watched her baby die.
Would you be so cruel to someone who lost their two year old? Their ten year old? Their teenager? Where exactly is the line for you that death becomes legitimate? I’m astounded by how cold you are.” (1)
Many others responded to this comment, telling their own stories of giving birth to premature babies, both those that survived and those that did not.
The Baby Is A Person, Not An “It”
Most commenters said he was terrible for referring to the baby as an “it.” The child wasn’t just a thing. It was a living, breathing human being. More importantly, the baby was her son.
Others mentioned that he knew about the baby going into the relationship, and he also knew about how she expresses her grief over the loss. If it bothered him, he shouldn’t have taken that into account earlier, rather than suddenly asking her to change five years into the relationship.
“people who have multiple children but some who are not living (for various reasons, miscarriage and your wife’s situation included) DO refer to all their children when asked – I have heard people say “I have 5 kids plus one in heaven” or something similar.” one commenter wrote. “I also assume you knew about this child and her methods of grieving/remembering it when you got married, it seems a little unreasonable to expect her to change.” (1)
Another commenter added:
“My mum had a stillbirth before I was born and even now, nearly 30 years later, her and my step father still visit her grave. That’s what a GOOD partner does, they share in your grief and help you through. Not dismiss your actual child just because they aren’t Earth side anymore. The fact he calls the child “it” speaks volumes.” (1)
Hatred Out of Jealousy
Many others said that it looked more and more that his disdain for her child and how she honors his memory speaks volumes about his own insecurity.
“it makes me think it’s purely territorial jealousy that she had a kid with someone who isn’t him. I hope she leaves him and finds someone better, who loves her AND everything that comes with her.” said one person. (1)
Mostly, people just said that he lacks any and all empathy. They said he should either go apologize to his wife and learn how to support her, or he should remove himself from her life.
“Go apologize to your wife. Learn to accept her grief and try to assist with it. Or get away from her so she can find something healthier” one commenter wrote. (1)
Some people did suggest that he help her find counseling with her grief if she truly is struggling, but also said that none of the things she was doing seemed to show that she was handling the loss of her child any worse than anyone else would.
Ultimately, they all agreed: OP is a huge jerk. In reality, if there’s anyone who needs professional help, it’s him to learn how to be a more sensitive and caring partner. He may be touching something real, but there are much more sensitive ways to go about it, and telling her to just stop calling her self mom is not one of them.