When You Have Nothing to Celebrate

May 4, 2014

Mothers Day Butterfly

Mother’s Day is coming up, but she won’t be celebrating it. In fact, she’s dreading it. You see, her baby was born too early. Too early to breathe on his own. Too early to fight the hard, long road called prematurity. Too early to make her a mother in society’s eyes…

Born at 24 weeks, he stood a chance, but sadly, his fragile – yet perfectly formed body – couldn’t hold on. There was nothing the doctors could do, despite their efforts. So she held him for all 49 minutes; every minute of his sweet life.

And then she was mother no more. Going home empty handed, brushed aside by friends and family that didn’t know what to say, holding back tears because she still felt like a mom but wouldn’t be receiving Mother’s Day cards or lovingly scribbled pictures she’d have to work hard to decipher.

Who is this woman?

Bereaved Mother

It’s you. Or a friend. Or your sister. It’s the stranger crying in church during Mother’s Day service. Or the neighbor that always avoids you when you’re outside with your baby. It’s me.

No, this isn’t my exact story, but like numerous other women out there, I am a bereaved mother. And the week leading up to Mother’s Day is rough. The day of? Absolute torture.


Because no one recognizes a mother with empty arms. No one praises her for being so loving. No one sees her complete, undying love for a child that existed only briefly.

And for those who still have living children, the day is still hard. Because they remember what they are missing. No matter how hard they try, the know they aren’t complete; one of the most beautiful things about them – the thing that makes them a mother – isn’t there.

Why are we sharing this on Preemie Babies 101?

Because we deal with stories of prematurity. Because we support the NICU parent. Because loss is a very real reality in our circle of parenthood. And because today – May 4th – is International Bereaved Mother’s Day. You can read more about it here, but it’s a very important day for many mothers who either are, aren’t, or never will be.

If you are a bereaved mother or know someone who is, please share this article. Just sharing it will let a bereaved mother know you care.

A Million Times Poem

Here are some other helpful links and places to visit today:

  1. Project: The Mother’s Heart Project
  2. Article: World’s Best Mom
  3. Article: The Edge of Grief
  4. Resource: 10 Thing to Do or Say When Someone You Know has Lost a Child
  5. Article: After the Loss: A Dad’s Perspective on What Helps and What Doesn’t
  6. Resource: Do I Need Support?
  7. Resource: Bereavement Support from Hand to Hold
  8. Article: Change of Plans
  9. Article: 21 Weeks
  10. Article: Losing a Child: The Love and Heartache
  11. Resource: How Many Children Do You Have?
  12. Article: Neonatal Loss
  13. Resource: 6 Things to Never Say to a Bereaved Parent
  14. Resource: Mothering Your Baby
  15. Resource: Memorial and Bereavement

I’d like to leave you with something I want you to know about me: I’m more than a bereaved mother… I’m Carter’s mother. (video link here also)