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18 Real, Sometimes Messy, Often Beautiful Photos of Moms Fighting Chronic Illness

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The “throwback” photos you’ll typically see posted on Mother’s Day are moms and their families celebrating birthdays, relaxing on vacation, and gathering in the kitchen for holidays. But for people with chronic illnesses, there’s another side of motherhood that is often hidden — the days spent in the hospital, weekends entertaining themselves on the couch, and the months recovering from tough medical procedures. These are the moments we want to celebrate today, too.

We asked our Mighty community to share a photo that represents what being a mom with chronic illness is like or how their mom supports them in their own illness. Living with chronic illness isn’t easy, to say the least, and being a mom on top of that takes strength that deserves to be honored.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

1. “My mom is my everything. I’ve been living with chronic illness for 13 years. Each day I’m faced with a new challenge, but ultimately I know that whatever comes my way next, she will be right there by my side... Day after day, she goes to any lengths she can to make me feel better. Whether that’s bringing me food or flowers, crying with me until we end up laughing together (which we always do), driving me to the doctor or picking up my medicine when I’m not up to it, or just being there to listen, she always eases my pain. I would not be able to do this without her.”

girl in bed with flowers and mom next to bed

2.My husband and oldest walking me out of the hospital after kidney stone surgery #6. Being a mom with a chronic illness is hard but so rewarding. I am thankful for all the love and joy they give my life.”

man holding hands with young boy

3. “Out with my daughter because life doesn’t stop just because I’m immunocompromised. Having multiple chronic illnesses and being a mom is difficult, but my kids make it so worth it. This girl is my little nurse in training, she takes such good care of me.”

woman wearing surgical mask and teenage daughter

4. “It means your wonderful kids end up taking care of you, just like you take care of them when they are sick.”

woman on couch with two little girls under blanket

5. “My mom has been my rock, nurse, advocate, best friend and shoulder to cry on since day one! Not only is she super mom raising five girls, she also battles multiple chronic illnesses as well! I love you, Mom, thank you for everything you do!”

young woman with mom at doctors office

6. “My disability was a delivery room surprise (even though she’s said she had a feeling that something was up while pregnant). She was able to hold me for a few minutes before I was taken to the NICU and she says that I looked right into her eyes and we have had an unbreakable bond since… I remember leaving an appointment and I started bawling before even making out of the parking structure because I was scared and overwhelmed. She comforted me by saying, “I’ve got this. You don’t need to worry or stress about these decisions right now. I’m the mom, let me worry.” That meant so much.”

woman in wheelchair holding hands with mom, facing mountain

7. “I couldn’t post one picture of the woman who gave me life and helps me live every day. My mom is an incredible mother of a Lupus Warrior. She’s helped me relearn to live time and time again. To walk, eat, write, and all the simplest life tasks that we tend to take for granted. She is by my side at every chemotherapy, dialysis, surgery, infusion, transfusion, transplant, er, hospitalization, ICU and doctors appointment. For eight years she has never made me felt like a burden while being on this rollercoaster with SLE lupus and renal failure.”

collage of photos of girl in hospital and her mom

8. “No matter where we are, my mom and I always try to make the best of each situation. Here is a picture of me and her when I was hospitalized this past year for a week right before Christmas. My mom helped me through this emotionally by watching Christmas specials on TV with me, playing music and dancing around in my room, as we are both dance teachers, and decorating my room with Christmas trees… We have fun no matter where we are and no matter what the situation, because we make the best of it together.”

teenage girl and mom in hospital room

9. “Let’s just say many days I cry… I cry because I feel I’m not the mom my son deserves. I’m not the ‘ideal’ mom. I’m not all there 24/7. There is days I make him sleep longer than he should. Days he doesn’t get to see sunlight. Days where he doesn’t leave the hospital because I am stuck here. But. It is these moments right here, that right then I realize he still loves me, still wants to be with me, even if that’s just sitting in my lap.”

woman with baby in hospital bed

10. “My mother has been my rock throughout my journey with ulcerative colitis. She visited me every day during my three hospitalizations, accompanied me to colonoscopies, and as pictured here was with me when I had my surgery to implant my chest port. She stayed in my apartment with me when I was too sick to take care of myself, fed me, bathed me. Never once did she complain about losing sleep to make sure I was OK… She is my hero and my champion.”

girl and mom hugging in hospital bed

11. “Stepmom here — it’s too risky for me to have bio kids. At 3, he’s too young to understand what it means when I say I’m sick a lot, or why sometimes I’m on the floor. But if I tell him I’m hurting he’s always ready with a gentle hug. And sometimes naptime is a mutual thing.”

woman sleeping with toddler on chair

12. “Just one of many moments captured of my precious girls, supporting their mom, by joining me at Orlando’s Chiari Walk a few years ago. My son would have been there, but was serving his country. They are what keeps me going…my world.”

woman with three grown daughters at fundraiser

13. “My mom means the world to me. The amount of crap she puts up with is just remarkable. She takes me to my appointments, my infusion, orders my medicine and countless other things that I shouldn’t have to depend on her for at 22 years old. She tells me time and time again how amazing I am and how I’m going to come out of this stronger that I was before. I know it must be killing her to see me like this, but she puts on a happy face. She’s the bravest woman I’ve ever known.”

young woman wearing hospital gown and mom next to her

14.My boys are such a source of joy in the midst of my 20-year battle with Crohn’s disease. They visit during every Remicade infusion, they bring me breakfast in bed when I can’t walk, they hold my hand through the pain. I was afraid that my Crohn’s would rob them of a ‘normal’ childhood, but instead, it’s given them little hearts of grace and understanding. I am so lucky.”

woman in hospital bed with two young boys making silly faces

15. “This is me and my beautiful babies. There are days when all I see is the duvet and plenty of cuddles but on the good days we explore together and it feels like a little victory!”

woman in power wheelchair outside with boy on bike and holding young child

16. “We spend most days with me laying on the couch. My 2-year-old brings me books to read to her and toys for us to play with. One day a week we will do something fun like the park, the zoo, or even just shopping. I feel guilty when other moms ask me where we ‘usually go to play.’ But baby girl is so very happy!”

toys on bed

17. “It means I am raising a child who is sympathetic to my pain and loves being Mom’s helper. A daughter who sits on my lap on weekends, because she knows that’s all I can do some days. It also means she’s growing up faster than I anticipated, because she has no choice.”

woman sitting on couch with young girl and dog

18. “I have Crohn’s disease and my son wrote this on me for a paper towel when he was 5 on a day that I was extremely sick… so I decided to tattoo it on my arm of a reminder of how sweet my boy is.”

arm with tattoo that says in child's writing i loev mom
Originally published: May 12, 2017
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