By: Paige Sanderson
Breakfast in bed, a card signed “Love, Mike and Holden,” and a picture of flowers created by Holden’s perfect little handprints. That’s what I was hoping my first Mother’s Day would be like. After all, it’s what I’ve been waiting for my whole life. A mom’s first Mother’s Day is supposed to be filled with smiles, laughter, and love. My first Mother’s Day is going to look quite different than that, and I’m dreading it.
I’m actually dreading the whole month of May. It’s a whole month reminder of what was ripped away from me in a split second.
May is my first Mother’s Day since my only son, Holden, was born. Holden was born still on November 19, 2019 two days after his due date. Losing him has shattered my heart into a million pieces that I know will never be put back together again the way they once were. My Mommom, Betty, passed away 11 days after Holden, and May 7th is her birthday. She was the sweetest person, and I feel like I haven’t even started to grieve her passing yet because I’m still just trying to grasp the fact that Holden is gone. Holden would be turning 6 months old on May 19th. It’s just too much. Can it be June yet?
This year on Mother’s Day, I plan on not getting out of bed, but I do want one gift. As my gift, I want to be acknowledged as a mom. I feel like people forget that I’m a mom, even some of my closest friends. I suffered a miscarriage since losing Holden and someone said to me, “Your dream of becoming a mom will happen soon.” I know those words weren’t meant to inflict pain, but they made me feel like someone had just knocked the wind out of me. My dream of becoming a mom? I am a mom! I wanted to scream those words from the highest mountains, so everyone could hear.
How could people not realize that I’m a mom? Have they not seen or heard about my perfect son?
The truth is, I struggled with calling myself a “mom” at first. In my head, I referred to myself as a “fake mom.” I was angry at myself that my only child was born not alive. I felt like I had failed him. I looked around at “real moms,” and they were doing things like dressing their babies, taking walks with their babies, feeding their babies. I was doing none of that, and it killed me. Other new moms were constantly talking about their babies and sharing pictures of them. Not many people wanted to talk about my baby with me, and even less people wanted to see pictures of him. I felt like I didn’t fit the “mom” picture, and therefore, couldn’t call myself a mom.
I have done a lot of thinking, self-reflecting and reading since then, and I do know (with confidence) that I am not a “fake mom.” I am a mom. A real mom.
I gave birth to a beautiful angel named Holden, and he made me a mom. I was lucky enough to bond with him through the entire pregnancy, from feeling his super strong kicks, to learning what foods he did and did not like. He made it super known. I was able to learn that he enjoyed sleeping while I was on my feet teaching all day, and he enjoyed waking up and moving when I was getting comfortable in bed watching the Big Bang Theory. I was lucky enough to be able to spend some time with him in the hospital after the c-section, also.
Finally realizing that I am a real mom has been so helpful to my grieving process. I want everyone to acknowledge bereaved parents as parents. They are still moms and dads. They have the same love for their children that parents with living children have. Learning how to go through life without Holden is the most painful thing I’ve ever had to do, and I never even imagined a pain this excruciating, but being acknowledged as a mom would be so amazing and uplifting.
It would mean that people acknowledge that my son existed. I carried him in my body for 40 weeks, but I will carry him in my heart forever. Holden is my son, and I am his mom. His real one.
I want to end by saying Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas out there! Whether your babies are here with you or in Heaven looking down on you, I hope that you have a day free of stress and heartache. I pray that you let yourself do whatever you need to do on this day. I will personally be laying in bed all day reflecting on my journey as a mom to an angel in Heaven.
About Paige Sanderson
Paige Sanderson is a fiancée, an educator, and a mother. Her son, Holden, was born still on November 19, 2019. She suffered a miscarriage before and after losing Holden, but she continues to be hopeful about continuing to grow her family. Her fiancée, Mike, moved from Florida to Maryland with her, and that is where they currently reside. Paige enjoys writing about Holden, reading, spending time with family and friends, and walks with her dog, Koda. She hopes that sharing her story can help others who are also trying to navigate through life after experiencing a traumatic loss.