In a world full of mothers, so many of them seem to go unnoticed, unrecognized. Forgotten.

They belong to a special class of mothers who walk amongst us with broken bodies and broken hearts.

They are the invisible mothers. 

The mamas who carried a baby in their womb, but never got to carry that baby home from the hospital. The mamas who said goodbye to their child weeks, even months into pregnancy, or shortly after birth. The mamas who birthed a baby born without breath

These are the mamas who never got to hear their baby cry out for them, never got to hear the sweet sound of the word mama trickle from the lips of their very own child. Not a theoretical child, but a REAL child. A child they carried, and held, and loved. A child who should have lived long enough to call out for their mama, but didn’t.

These are the mamas who cherished the sacred act of carrying a living being within their very own body, not realizing that the act of carrying that child in their arms wasn’t guaranteed. They are the mamas with full hearts, but empty arms. Their hearts love the baby who’s gone, but their arms ache for the one who will never fill them, at least here on earth.

These are the mamas whose motherhood isn’t acknowledged because their children are in Heaven instead of in their arms, or on their hips, or toddling beside them. They are the mamas who don’t look like mothers. The ones who appear to have a certain freedom, but whose lives are encumbered by grief.

These are the mamas who are waiting to be called mama.

The ones who already hold that title, but who long to hear it spoken aloud. They are the mamas who have lost a baby.

These are the mamas who will never have the experience of their child running straight into their arms, joyfully squealing “MAMA!” when they return to their child after a short time away. They don’t just have to wait an hour, or a day, or a week to see their child again, but an entire lifetime. Day after day they wait to hear the voice of their precious child, while imagining what it will be like on their first beautiful day together in heaven.

In the meantime, without a baby in their arms, or a child by their side, these mamas are often forgotten. As are their children, and their pain. They are missing a piece of their heart and a piece of their family.

But they are still mothers.

What a gift it would be if we took the time to validate their motherhood. To recognize them as the mothers they are. To remember their child’s birth date or anniversary of their loss. To speak their child’s name.

And in the absence of their child, what a gift it would be if we were brave and compassionate enough to refer to them as the mamas they are.

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Jenny Albers

Jenny Albers is a wife, mother, and writer.  She is the author of Courageously Expecting, a book that empathizes with and empowers women who are pregnant after loss. You can find Jenny on her blog, where she writes about pregnancy loss, motherhood, and faith. She never pretends to know it all, but rather seeks to encourage others with real (and not always pretty) stories of the hard, heart, and humorous parts of life. She's a work in progress, and while never all-knowing, she's (by the grace of God) always growing. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.