For women who are battling infertility, have experienced miscarriages or lost a child, Mother's Day is anything but a simple holiday.
"It can hurt and bring up so many raw emotions. We try to brace ourselves for impact," Aubrey Atkinson of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, wrote on our TODAY Parenting Team. "Every year it serves as a reminder of what we don't yet have." (Atkinson chronicled her struggles with infertility, and now is a mom of three.)
An estimated one in four known pregnancies ends in miscarriage. About 12 percent of couples experience infertility, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And while infant mortality rates have been steadily declining in the U.S., the CDC reports that every year approximately 24,000 babies die before their first birthday in the United States.
Parents grieving child loss have to battle a familiar enemy on Mother's Day: Silence. Many people, unsure what to say to someone who has lost a child, don't acknowledge the loss at all.
“People are extremely uncomfortable and you find people avoiding you in grocery stores," Gordon Livingston told TODAY Parents for a story about what to say, and what not to say, to bereaved parents. Livingston's 23-year old son Andrew died from suicide, and a year later his 6-year-old son Lucas died from leukemia.
Lexi Behrndt is a contributor to the TODAY Parenting Team and the mother of 4-year-old Lincoln and son Charlie, who was seven months old when he died in 2014.
"The world tells you to 'heal' and to 'move on,'" Behrndt wrote for the TODAY Parenting Team in 2016, an essay she also produced as a video. "Healing from child loss doesn’t look like healing from an injury. Our children were not a broken bone, they are a piece of our hearts, and now a piece of our hearts is gone."
Behrndt teamed up with other mothers who've experienced child loss and pregnancy loss to make a video with TODAY that reflects the experience of Mother's Day for bereaved parents. In vignettes from daily life that show women both grieving their losses and coming together to comfort one another, they aimed to show the power of acknowledging child loss — and to spread the message that Mother's Day is for everyone.
"Maybe you only knew their heartbeat. Maybe you held them in your arms," Behrndt says in the video. "Maybe it happened yesterday, or 30 years ago. We know you don't forget. We want you to know that neither do we. We see your pain, and we see your tremendous, unbreakable, never-ending love."