On this Mother’s Day, Rivi would have been 11 1/2. His little brother just turned 10. With every milestone his younger brother achieves, a piece of my heart aches…the Rivi-shaped piece.

That little heart spot hurts at other times, too, Mid-September through October, Rivi’s original due date, the beginning of every school year, but especially today, Mother’s Day.

My first Mother’s Day without Rivi passed silently. There were no flowers, no cards, no dinners out or gifts. Instead, there was me, quietly and desperately pretending it was just another day. I didn’t know how else to commemorate the tiny boy I’d lost, so I went and got a tattoo of Rivi’s name on my ankle, my first Mother’s Day gift.

By my second Mother’s Day, I had a living boy in my arms, but I still barricaded myself in my apartment, only taking a call from my mother. In advance, I refused all celebration. I held the boy I could and mourned the one I couldn’t.

This is my 12th Mother’s Day, and it is still an emotionally raw, bipolar day. I suspect it always will be to some extent. I thank God that I have an amazing boy here to ease my pain, but other mothers of lost babies aren’t so blessed.

To all of those mothers of invisible children, I say that I still feel your pain. 12 years later, I can only tell you to be gentle with yourselves and to celebrate your motherhood, no matter how fleeting the physical portion of it was. Remember your babies and do whatever you must to survive the day…and that pain? That pain is Motherhood.

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