Dear Loss Mama,

It’s Mother’s Day and here you are. A mother without her baby. Your motherhood might go unrecognized by the world around you, but you know better, and so do I. While it may not have been for long, you held your baby in your womb, and maybe even in your arms. And that most certainly makes you a mother. Then, now, and always.

Just as you watched those two pink lines appear in the once blank space of a pregnancy test, you felt the presence of life in the once empty space of your womb. Love was born as you saw and felt the evidence of new life within you. You flipped through the calendar to determine when your baby would arrive and you wondered if you would have a boy or a girl.

You imagined holding a pink, fleshy baby in your arms, a baby who belonged only to you. Your fingers would graze those pink, chubby cheeks as you gazed into eyes that resembled yours. You pictured the day you’d bring your baby home from the hospital, and all the days that would come.

You made plans. Plans to announce your pregnancy and decorate the nursery. Plans for a baby shower and birth photography. You created a birth plan and a schedule for guests who planned to come visit your beautiful newborn.

And as you planned, your imagination ran wild. You envisioned your baby’s first steps and first words. You pictured your baby’s first Christmas and first birthday, and assumed these events would leave you with some of the best memories of your life. There would be a series of first days of school, in which you would note your child’s growth from one year to the next. And there would be the very last day of school as your child would step out of childhood and into adulthood. You fantasized about your child’s wedding and the babies that would make you a grandparent.

But your plans fell through the moment your baby’s heart stopped beating, and your imagination went blank as you realized your baby was gone. You were forced into a life in which dreams crumbled before they ever had the chance to be built.

I’m not sure when it happened, when death became the central theme of your life. Maybe it was in the first trimester, or the second, or third. Maybe it happened before your baby was born, or maybe it happened after.

But while death took the life of your baby, it did not change the fact that you are a mother. Your baby’s life was real.

And so is your motherhood.

The world might fool you into thinking your motherhood is less significant than that of those who mother living children. It might make you believe that your baby’s short life is less significant than the baby whose life outlasts his or her parents.

But I’m here to tell you it’s just not true. You will always be a mother to the baby who is no longer here. Your baby’s life will always have a place in history. After all, a life that has caused just one person to love is a life well lived. And I know your baby lived a good life by bringing more love to your life than you ever thought possible.

You’ve earned the title of Mother by loving your baby then, now and always.

So on this day of celebrating mothers, I celebrate you and your motherhood. Your baby’s life may have been short and fleeting, but your love remains. And that’s what motherhood is—loving always, even when it hurts.

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. When she's not typing words, she can be found wrangling a fiery little boy and nurturing a quickly growing girl. She's a tea-addicted, jewelry-loving, cat-obsessed, Jesus-following, introverted midwestern girl who is thrilled to connect with you from the other side of the screen. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.