I have two living children. My daughter was born after several years of “unexplained infertility”. My son was born four years later, after several years of heartbreaking losses in my first and second trimesters.

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

I remember how confusing that Mother’s Day was after he was born. My son was a month old, and I knew I should be happy – and I was. I knew I should be grateful – and I was. But I was also still sad for the babies I had lost, and realizing with every precious milestone that my newborn son met, exactly how much I had lost. People rejoiced over our second child, and I wanted to tell them, “He’s my fifth!” But not wanting to engage in the conversation that was sure to come, I usually didn’t.

I’ve often thought since then how much harder that Mother’s Day would have been if I had not already had baby who lived, if my rainbow had been hailed as my “first”, with no remembrance or recognition of the precious souls who preceded him.

So today, this message is to you, the mom whose “first” Mother’s Day is not your first at all.

It is for you, the mom with a newborn, being wished a “Happy First Mother’s Day!”

You were already a mom.

It is for you, the mom who is pregnant after loss this Mother’s Day, who is hearing that next year will be your first.

You are already a mom.

It is for you, the mom who may or may not be trying to conceive, with no living children at home, but one or more in Heaven.

You are already a mom.

You were a mom before your rainbow came. You are a mom even if your children are not on earth. You don’t stop being a mom just because your children are not with you. When living children grow up and move away from home, their parents don’t stop being parents. The relationship changes, the roles change, but the reality does not. Once a mom, always a mom.

So it is with the children we are missing. Whether we said good-bye at five weeks, or twelve, or twenty, or forty, their departure does not stop us from being their mothers. It changes how we mother in heart-wrenching ways, but the love is still there, and the bond with our children

If this is your first Mother’s Day with a living take-home baby in your arms, I rejoice with you! But if there is some confusion and sadness mixed in with the joy, I want you to know how normal that is, and that yes, you were already a mom.

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