I used to hate Mother’s Day. I dreaded baby showers. I faked a smile, and muttered ‘congratulations’ whenever another friend would announce her pregnancy. I avoided toy stores, baby aisles in Target and Gymboree in the mall. If I even came within eyesight of one of those places, it felt like I had a golf ball lodged in my throat and holding back tears would be as difficult as holding in a sneeze.

I wasn’t always this way. I adore my own mother. She raised me as a single-parent in a time where coming from a ‘broken home’ meant you and your family were about as worthless as an old pair of shoes. I can’t speak for her, but society and the community definitely had their hand at poking holes into what I knew my mother was so desperately trying to make whole. Me. She succeeded, I achieved all the milestones every mother dreams for her child, and then some. Despite the statistics that would try to convince my mother and me that coming from a ‘broken home’ would mean I would end up pregnant at 16 or on drugs, or the naysayers that insisted I would not be well-adjusted without a father-figure in my life, we proved them wrong. She deserves to be celebrated everyday, not just one day a year.

Then one year Mother’s Day came around and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t celebrate Mother’s Day. I dug deep within to find the inner-strength to muster up all the happiness and gratefulness I could to celebrate a woman I admire so much. I just couldn’t.

I couldn’t do it because I should have had my 10-month-old in my arms, but she wasn’t there. She was and is in heaven. I was officially a mother of an angel baby. It was a club of which I didn’t want a membership.

Anger hit me like waves crashing against a rocky shore. Grief encompassed me like a wet soggy blanket, difficult to pry off my body. I analyzed every moment of my pregnancy. I blamed myself for going out one night and drinking with a group of friends before I found out I was pregnant. Or perhaps it was the stress from work. The shower cleaner I used was too strong and the fumes killed my baby. I searched the depths of my soul and mind searching for answers. I WANTED ANSWERS.

About a year later, we got pregnant again and we lost our second baby as well. I started to feel those holes again that my own mother always seemed to fill when I was a child. I started to believe maybe I just wasn’t prepared or meant to be a mother myself.

The agony continued. Going to my own niece and nephews’ birthday parties would result in me hiding in the bathroom, curled up on the floor crying. I wanted my babies there. I wanted to have birthday parties for my own children. Life felt unfair.

A few years later, on one particular day as yet another Mother’s Day approached, I found myself sitting at my mother’s table in my childhood home. I had been living in my head for some time at this point, and I asked her this question. “Do you consider me a mother?” I could see her reading the desperation on my face and the tears gathering at the corner of my eyes. She knew what I was getting at with this question, “Yes, I do.” I allowed the tears to fall from my eyes and caught my breath between sobs.

A week or so later we celebrated Mother’s Day. When I say ‘we’ I mean I honored my mother and myself. While I didn’t have my babies here on earth to hold, kiss, hug, discipline, parent or see, I am still and always will be their mother.

It is my belief that to not honor myself as their mother is dismissing their existence. I am not doing it for me, I am doing it for them. I am proud to be their mother. I am not ashamed to be their mother. And I will not let anyone let me feel less than a mother when it comes to my angel babies. I believe I will see them one day. They are in heaven watching over me and their younger siblings. For that I am grateful and appreciative.

For all the mothers of angel babies reading this, remember you ARE a mother. Society may not recognize it, your own family may not recognize it, but don’t you forget it. You didn’t ask to be in this club, but sweetheart you’re in it, and so am I. So as Mother’s Day approaches again this year, from the bottom of my heart to all the mothers of angel babies: I hope you have a blessed holiday.

Kimberly Patterson

Kimberly Patterson is a writer, wife and mother of two adorable, over-zealous toddlers. She spends her days in yoga pants, pecking away at the keys on her laptop and pulling her kids off of whatever household furniture they climb upon. She has been published on The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Her View From Home, The Mighty, and several other publications. Read more of her insights at truthisinthewriting.com.