The moment I became pregnant, I was a mother

Having a subsequent loss doesn't change that.

I had a miscarriage but I'm still a mother

I can't remember now, but I think at the time I had already had two miscarriages. Or maybe three.

My husband and I were taking a walk with our dog, who at the time we obsessed over because, besides ourselves, she was the only other creature we were taking care of. In fact, we were probably not showing ourselves a whole lot of love at the time, looking back. But that dog? She ate well, slept in the middle of our queen-size bed and claimed pretty much every other piece of furniture in the house as her own. (Dog PSA: Never get a puppy who will grow into a 90-110 pound dog without also upgrading to a king-size bed.)

So the three of us were walking in our neighborhood on Mother's Day.

We walked.

I silently grieved.

I wanted nothing more than to be a mother, and yet my body was failing me. My babies were not making it beyond the first eight weeks of pregnancy. To top those feelings off, I was surrounded by women having babies in my life and my social media feeds, and at work, my patients were often newborns.

But I was not a mother.

We walked more.

One of my beautiful, sweet friends in our neighborhood drove by. She was a light in my life at the time. Sweetly supportive, unobtrusively empathetic, unassuming. She was the type of friend who was always willing to be what I needed at the time I needed it.

She slowed down as she approached us and rolled her window down. I wished her a happy Mother's Day with the searing chest pain of an infertile woman who wants nothing more than to experience pregnancy and motherhood herself.

Her response stole the breath from my body and in my memory it feels like we just stared at each other for minutes afterward, both silent and unsure. "Happy Mother's Day to you," she said. I saw her face shift, realized she was unsure of why she would say that and whether it was right or wrong.

This sweet friend of mine had recently experienced her own devastating loss. I had visited her second daughter in the NICU, been a witness to her fleeting but perfect and well-loved life, and held my friend's hand through a pain to which I could very nearly relate.

I say "very nearly" because my losses were earlier. I had never held a living, breathing, beautiful life in my arms while they took their last breath. I had never had to bury my baby after I had held them in my arms for only hours.

At that moment—when one mother in pain wished another mother in pain a Happy Mother's Day—neither of us knew how to act.

Neither of us fully understood what that moment meant at the time. We had been united in our loss experiences but were separated by our parenting status. We were united in our pain but were separated by what helped us heal.

She had her first baby living, breathing, running around her home. I had my dog. And although I loved my dog, a 90-lb fur-child could never have been an adequate substitute for the human children I had lost, and the babies I was sure I would never have.

Whether or not she even remembers it, I know that I have reflected on that day one million times. I have remembered the sharp sting of the words when I thought they weren't true. When I didn't feel I deserved to be wished a "Happy Mother's Day."

But then I remember the beauty of those words. When I had time to process them, I realized what a gift those words were that my friend gave me. And they were much deserved. Because I was a mother.

I was a mother who had lost her babies, yes, but I was a mother nonetheless.

I don't know whether my husband ever felt like a father before he held our rainbow baby in his arms. They say women become mothers the moment they find out they are pregnant, but men become fathers when they hold their children in their arms. Maybe he would not have ever wanted to be recognized on Father's Day before our daughter finally came into this world.

I, on the other hand, think back to that day when I was grieving on a Mother's Day walk all those years ago and feel grateful to my sweet friend who slipped before she realized what she was saying.

I miss my babies I never held. Two miracle children later, and I still bear the emotional scars and the heart holes left by the loss of three pregnancies and countless embryos.

I was their mother. I wanted them before they even existed and I mourned for them when they were gone.

I grieve still, on particularly hard days or in moments when my current Netflix binge show features a pregnancy loss storyline and sometimes even when a woman much younger than me announces a new, easily achieved pregnancy.

The moment I became pregnant, I was a mother. The losses I experienced did not change that.

The world does not always see us and recognize our motherhood. We don't always even recognize it ourselves. And so, this Mother's Day, remember us. Reach out to a friend who has lost a baby. Give your love to a woman who felt the fleeting joy of motherhood only to have it abruptly ripped away.

Remember that we loved and we lost, and we still grieve the babies who would have made us the kinds of mothers the world recognizes.

And to my friend, that light in my life during one of my darkest hours, thank you for your Mother's Day wish that day. Your words were therapeutic, despite any pain attached. They still are.

We're so glad to live in a time when modern baby gear exists. Sure, no one is going to argue that having a baby is easy—but it can be easier with support from some gadgets designed to help your baby and put your mind at ease.

As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!

A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.


A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.


A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.


A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.


A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.


A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.


A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.


A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.


An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.


A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.


And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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