Last year was the first Mother’s Day I got to hold my baby, but it wasn’t my first Mother’s Day. Today I will think of last year, when my son was just a week old on Mother’s Day. I will remember how exhausted I was that day, but how deeply in love I was with my new baby boy.
This Mother’s Day I have a baby to hold. My first Mother’s Day I did not. I was a mother, but I didn’t feel like one. I held my stillborn baby girl just a month prior to Mother’s Day in 2013, but we left the hospital without her.
My first Mother’s Day was full of “should have’s.” I should have had my daughter with me. She should have been born alive. I should have been happy. My tears should have been that of gratitude. Should, should, should. But none of those things were true. Instead my arms were empty. My heart was broken in two. My body was slowly recovering from labor and delivery. And my eyes were swollen from the tears that flowed freely and often.
I was afraid. Afraid I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant again. Afraid I wouldn’t want to be pregnant again. Afraid of what the autopsy would tell us. Afraid that there was something wrong with me. Afraid of not being able to have another child of my own. Afraid that every Mother’s Day would bring with it the opening of a wound that barely had a chance to heal. I was so afraid.
I didn’t know it then, but I wasn’t alone. There are mothers everywhere who are afraid. They wait, they wish, they hope, they pray. They have empty arms and broken hearts, for the babies they lost, the babies they want more than anything.
Today I will celebrate my Mother, my Mother-in-Law, my grandmothers, my friends who are mothers, and my friends who are expecting. I will look at my son’s smiling face and feel a remarkable amount of gratitude that I get to be his Mama, that I get to raise him, and that he’s mine. But I will also be hurting. I will be thinking of the two year old daughter I should have with me. I’ll be thinking of my friends who, like me, briefly got to hold their stillborn baby. My friends who got to hold their baby for just an hour before he passed away. My friends who learned there was no heartbeat during an ultrasound. My friends who are enduring fertility treatments. My friends who are raising money for adoption. My friends who are hoping for a miracle. My friends who know the pain and the fear that comes with not knowing what the future holds.
If you know one of these mothers, please think of them today. They are hurting today. And if you are one of these mothers, please know that I’m thinking of you and your babies today.
On Mother’s Day I can think of no mother more deserving than a Mother who had to give one back.
– Erma Bombeck