Today is six months since my dear friend’s son took his final breath. This past week he would have turned one. There are no words to explain what it’s like to watch your strong, carefree and amazing friend go from having it all to losing it all in an instant. Instead of holding a special celebration with a smash cake and watching her healthy baby boy develop more and more each day, she went from a family of four to a family of three.

When baby M passed away I was 27 weeks pregnant with my first baby. I flew into Chicago on a blustery January day to attend the services. I watched as my friend walked down the aisle of the church behind the tiniest casket I’ve ever seen, shaking to her core and sobbing. I thought I knew then what a mother’s love was. When my son was born in March, I remember staring down at him and thinking- there is nothing in this world I love more than you. My mind raced to baby M and I instantly thought of my friend who was eight months pregnant at my wedding and who’s sweet boy I only got to meet once over breakfast.

Everywhere you look on social media there’s the constant story of the “mom struggle.” How challenging the mom life is and so forth. I’ve been guilty of it. You know the days I’m talking about. When you haven’t showered, or eaten or gotten to go to the bathroom and your husband walks in the door and innocently asks “how was your day?” The days when your baby is inconsolable or has a blow out all over your dress as you’re about to walk out the door. Those moments aren’t easy, but then I think of my friend and what she would give to have those “nightmare” moments and days with her son and I’m quickly brought back to earth.

Each time we feel like we’re losing our minds or have reached capacity, let’s think of baby M and his amazing mama. Let’s think of the women out there who suffer from infertility and may never get to experience the ups and downs of motherhood. Let’s take a moment to thank God for our tiny miracles and remember that there are many people out there who would give anything to have our “worst” days.

And for the moms out there like my dear friend, please know we admire your strength, resilience and courage more than you’ll ever know.

Natalie Hayden

Natalie (Sparacio) Hayden, 36, is a former TV news anchor living in St. Louis. Her mission in life is to be an advocate for those battling inflammatory bowel disease and to show that a chronic illness doesn’t have to dull your sparkle. Natalie was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in July 2005. After several hospitalizations, countless medications and flare ups she underwent her first surgery in August 2015. Natalie and her husband have two children, Reid and Sophia.