“Despite the overwhelmingly positive narrative of Mother’s Day that we see in commercials and advertisements, we know that this is a tough day for people experiencing infertility and loss. And it is important to remember that for many, this day is even more emotionally fraught if their own mothers have passed away, if they have conflictual or complicated relationships with their mothers or if they have one or more kids but have also lost pregnancies, infants or children. This day can catch us up in so many layers of sadness, anger, jealousy and profound grief.”
~ Dara Roth Edney
This past Sunday marked International Bereaved Mother’s Day, something that I only discovered existed last year. In addition, it is also currently ‘Maternity Mental Health Week’ in some countries, and Mother’s Day is coming up on Sunday, 9th May. This year, I’ve noticed a bit more consideration towards the infertility community than in previous years. I’ve seen many posts offering words of comfort for women dealing with infertility on social media over the last few days, as well as messages sympathizing with those who’ve experienced losses. Along with this, a couple of the ladies in my TTC network shared that some of the email lists that they subscribe to, sent them an email enquiring whether they would rather not receive any Mother’s Day related correspondence, thus giving them the option of opting out, as they were aware that it was a difficult time for some. It’s the first time that I’ve ever heard of this happening and I felt that it was a really thoughtful touch. In general, these all seemed like encouraging signs, because they are indicators that wider society is acknowledging the emotional and mental impact of infertility and pregnancy loss. I do hope that understanding and sensitivity towards women who struggle with infertility and how it affects their lives will help break down the stigma and shame that often accompanies it. Most importantly, it opens up space for those of us who face infertility to feel seen and it says – ‘You’re not forgotten, your loss is not forgotten, we see your pain and you’re included in our societal narratives’.
It must be said though, that even with these kinds of gestures from others, this week may still be a challenging time that amplifies your hurt and sense of longing for motherhood. It also doesn’t erase the realities that you face on a daily basis. So, I will reiterate some of what I share in the post I wrote around Mother’s Day last year and say: Remember that you are not alone. Remind yourself that you are entitled to your feelings, be kind to yourself and give yourself permission to do things that nurture your wellbeing. If you feel the need to, then by all means, disconnect from social media and all the Mother’s Day messaging and take some time to do things that you enjoy. It is okay to set boundaries to protect your emotional health.
“Keep those rivers of self-compassion and love flowing over you, with an abundance of patience and kindness.” ~ Shannon, Mothering Your Heart
Two years ago, I came across a wonderful email series called Mothering Your Heart. This email series was created as a support resource for women after miscarriage. Around Mother’s Day they sent out emails for comfort and support. These daily messages were beautiful anchors for grace and came with a workbook of journaling prompts. One of these writing prompts was about ascertaining the best way for you to access calm on Mother’s Day. They asked questions along the following lines:
- What is the most soothing place I could physically be today?
- What is the most calming event I might include in my day?, and
- What is the most comforting music that I’d like to listen to today?
Just having these simple thinking points to guide me forward brought some ease to something that could have been much more emotionally challenging. It gave me something different to focus on, allowing me to spend my weekend taking care of my own needs.
“…be proactive about taking care of yourself. Take the time leading up to Mother’s Day to try and anticipate what will make the day or weekend harder, and then take steps to protect yourself.” ~ Dara Roth Edney
What are your needs and how can you nurture them this week? What is your heart calling for most at this time? How can you hold yourself in self-compassion? Don’t be afraid to give yourself these things.
In closing, I’d like to share a verse from a touching affirmation that I stumbled upon a few weeks back. It is called Mothering Heart by Carly Marie, and reads as follows:
“While I may not have any children here to raise on Earth, I became a mother the moment I opened my heart to the idea of bringing a child into this world. My mothering love has grown and blossomed since that day.”
This post is also available in: Arabic