Moms with empty arms

I recently lost my son in October due to a fatal birth defect called anencephaly. My whole world changed in an instant. I look at the world so differently than I ever did before; especially when it comes to holidays.

Holidays are always celebrated with family and friends and after losing my son, sometimes they feel like a jab at my heart, knowing that he won’t be able to celebrate any of them with everyone.

It feels like a constant reminder that my arms are empty and it hurts every day.

It has been seven months since I last held my son and kissed his cheeks and not a day goes by that I don’t miss him and wish he was here in my arms. A few weeks after losing my son I found myself questioning so many things because I didn’t feel like a mom. I never changed his diaper, never had to wake out of the night to feed him a bottle, and never even got to take him home with me. I questioned whether I was still a mom. One thing that has reminded me that I am a mom is the constant pain that nags at my heart every day. The love, joy, and pain that I feel is what pulls me back and reminds me. The moment I found out I was expecting, the months I spent preparing for him to come, the books I read to him and traveling to places with him, the moment I laid eyes on him for the first time, the moment he passed in my arms, and the hardest of all, the moment I handed him over to the funeral director, have all validated, whether painful or not, that I am in fact a mom and a strong one at that. I don’t get to see my son age and document each month he grows like most mom’s, but I go to the cemetery almost every day and every month anniversary of his birth date decorate his grave with a baseball numbered with how old he is. I don’t get to make his doctor’s appointments or take him to have his picture taken with Santa, but I do coordinate events and fundraisers to raise awareness for anencephaly and make sure that my son is always remembered. Just because my son isn’t here with me physically doesn’t make me any less of a mom. I keep busy doing what I can for him and I always will because I am his mom and he will always be my baby.

Here is my letter to all the moms out there whose arms are empty and hearts are heavy:

I want you to know you are not alone and that I am with you. I want you to know I will walk with you every step of the way because grief, as we know, has no end. I want you to know that you are the greatest definition of a mom and that today you should feel honored to have an angel who is proud to call you mom. I want you to know your angel is wiping your tears because it is okay to cry, scream, and shout. I want you to know that I too feel like some days people don’t get it. Some days I long to hear his name, others just don’t feel real. Whether a miscarriage, a few hours, or even years, it will never be enough time when it comes to your child; but always remember you are a mom. So today take it easy. Whether you want to hide from the world or celebrate their life, there is no right or wrong way. I just want you to know that you are and always will be a mom, and I am thinking of you today.

– Jenna Gassew, Shane’s Mommy (Prayers for Shane)

Remembrance Portraits
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