Mother’s Day With Empty Arms

By: Heather West

As Mother’s Day approaches I often hear the words “you’re still a mom,” as much as those words are very true, if I am honest I’m not sure how they make me feel.

Am I proud to be a mom? ABSOLUTELY, with everything I have, but are those words supposed to make it hurt any less that I will be spending Mother’s Day with empty arms?

When I hear “you’re still a mom,” I always think “of course I am.” I still gave birth to a beautiful baby girl that I carried for 40 weeks. I still felt every labor pain like every other mom feels. I struggled tirelessly through breastfeeding, like most and provided milk to my angel every day she was on this earth. Her smile stopped me in my tracks and her giggle could take away any worry. I was a mom, a mom who gave up everything for her baby to have a chance at life. But as Mother’s Day approaches how do you navigate a day designed for moms and their children, when yours Is no longer with you? How do you still feel like a mom knowing you will wake up on Mother’s Day without a hug from your only child?

My first and only Mother’s Day with Adalyn I woke up and staring back at me was my reality. As it was every day. But my reality seemed to sting a little more as I woke up on Mother’s Day to the sounds of 28 machines beeping and pumping to keep my daughter alive. Honestly this isn’t how I pictured my first Mother’s Day… no mother does. This however was our reality and had been for 8 long months. The sounds of machines had become second nature. I woke up feeling sorry for myself and angry at the world. Not even wanting to acknowledge that it was Mother’s Day.

I can remember being so sad and angry thinking this is the worst Mother’s Day possible. Man, was I ever wrong. It seemed so unfair that I was not able to hold my baby. At times I have to believe this was life preparing me for a lifetime of not holding my baby on Mother’s Day.

My mom came to visit on Mother’s Day and was so excited to give us a gift. She had gotten Adalyn and I matching shirts that said “Mommy and Adalyn, our first mother’s day.” Although my mom felt so bad because at that time Adalyn was not able to wear clothes, something about these shirts gave me hope. They snapped me out of my sadness a bit, and gave me the hope that we would have a second, third, fourth mother’s day together. I proudly put my shirt on and gently laid Adalyn’s on her chest and took our only photo with my baby on Mother’s Day. The only picture we will ever have together on Mother’s Day. As I took that photo I hoped and prayed for future Mother’s Days together. Never imagining what my next couple days would be like.  Unfortunately, I watched my beautiful baby girl take her last breath just 4 short days later. Now our shirts sit folded together in a hope chest. There will never be a second or third Mother’s Day.

As much as our only Mother’s Day together seemed to sting so much, the finality of never getting another stings more than I have words for.

Mothers Day

This empty feeling in my heart is not what being a mom should feel like. But when I think of my first Mother’s Day without my angel here on earth, I realized this might not feel like being a “Mom” but our first Mother’s Day together and this day, when time and space separate us, is the definition of motherhood.

Motherhood is unselfish, it is loving without boundaries, it’s never giving up despite the struggles, it’s putting their needs before your own, it’s smiling and putting on a brave face even when you are broken inside, it’s knowing it’s ok to break down, it’s forgiving yourself when you think you are doing it wrong, and giving yourself a pat on the back once in a while.

Motherhood is HARD; no one said it would be easy. It has tested me in ways I never thought possible. It has tested my faith, my strength, my optimism, my energy, and the deepest darkest levels of my emotions.

This Mother’s Day will no doubt be one of the hardest days of my life.

I am sure I will wake up and the sting of my reality will be staring me in the face. Although my first two Mother’s Days have challenged me in ways I never imagined, I would do it all over again for the chance to meet Adalyn. Motherhood changed me, Adalyn changed me. Motherhood made me selfless and for that I am forever grateful. I’m thankful every day that Adalyn, my husband, and I were perfectly picked to be a family. As hard as this is, each day I smile because Adalyn made me a mommy and allowed us one Mother’s Day together. Loving Adalyn has opened my heart to love I never thought possible.

Being a mom is the best title anyone has ever given me. This Mother’s Day when people say “you’re still a mom” I will stop, soak that in and truly appreciate it.

I will try to remember these words and feel honored that I got to experience motherhood. I will know that even though my angel isn’t in my arms, these words are meant to remind me that she is in my heart and soul and no amount of time or space could ever change that. I am proud every day knowing that motherhood came along and rocked me to my core, but also gave me the greatest gift of all, Adalyn.

Heather WestAbout Heather West

I am a hairstylist and love making people feel good about themselves. I am a wife, daughter, sister, and best friend, but of all the titles given to me, heart mom is the most important. My husband and I have been married for almost 8 years and have spent the majority of our time together building a strong foundation and traveling the world. In 2016 we got pregnant with our first daughter and could not wait to be parents. Upon birth we found our daughter was very sick and instantly we became a heart family. We spent 8 months fighting for her life and we are trying to navigate through our grief and try to help people along the way .

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