Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Sting of Mother's Day When Coping With Infertility

Holidays are tough when you're going through infertility. Whether it's your relatives asking why you don't have kids yet, or your sister-in-law complaining about her 3 kids that she popped out one after the other and callously tells you you can have hers, or your cousin making her pregnancy announcement, or children showing up at your door to spread the cheer. But no holiday stings more than Mother's Day.

Sure, you're thankful for your mother (unless she's adding insult to injury by telling you about so-and-so's new baby), but truthfully, Mother's Day is just a horrible reminder of what you're not, what you want so desperately to become and even, perhaps, what you might never become. Strangers will wish you a happy Mother's Day, oblivious to your heartache hidden behind your silence. But, for someone coping with infertility, every day feels like Mother's Day, so by the time that one Sunday in May rolls around, it's like another gallon of salt poured on the wound.

If only Mother's Day was contained into a single day (you could just sleep through it), but no, instead TV shows, magazines, advertisers spend at least two weeks gearing up for the big day. Segments like "What to get for Mother's Day," or "The special mom of the year" seem to make up a large portion of programming. And just when you think you're coming up for air with a commercial break, advertisers have to scream about their Mother's Day sales or promotions with images of unattainable motherhood/parenthood. You might try to hide in the darkness and anonymity of a movie theater only to be bombarded by the "Babies" trailer (and no, I'm not creating a link to it). Seriously?! It's like a conspiracy.

I don't think there's a good way to deal with Mother's Day, but if you are lucky enough to have a loving partner, then make it a date-day and do things that don't involve families: take a romantic bath together, eat at a fancy restaurant, go see an R rated movie. Also, there isn't enough that could be said about taking solace in your fellow infertile friends. They understand your isolation and the tragic pain of Mother's Day, so get together with them -- there's (emotional) strength in numbers.

No matter which way you go on Mother's Day, I want you to make the day about you and the fragile feelings that need to be sheltered from this Hallmark holiday. After all, Mother's Day is about showing appreciation for a mother's hard work, well I say, no one is more committed and hard working than a woman trying to have a baby. So here's to you my fellow infertiles!


Lollipop Goldstein said...

The lead-up and the excess is sort of unbelievable. Not that you have to buy into the whole flower-getting, breakfast-in-bed, 3000 greeting cards world, but even if you don't, it's impossible to escape it.

The Infertility Doula said...

You're absolutely right, Lollipop. Even though I'm on the other side and should be eating it all up, I still find the whole Mother's Day hoopla overwhelming.

Aitcheson's Reports said...

I feel the Mother’s/Father’s Day hype is similar to the Valentine’s Day treatment – love whom we tell you to love. So I try to acknowledge International Women’s Day, March 8th, to my relatives and friends. And on Mother’s Day I deliberately call the women in my life who’ve loved and guided me through whatever, whether they’re mothers or not. And certainly I feel it for women who’ve lost their mothers. But I feel you had so much more inside that you could have said. There’s so much to the day and it just becomes a flower fest but your piece really gives new insight to the day. I don't think I've ever heard it from this perspective.

The Infertility Doula said...

Thanks, Connie. It's always a matter of how you look at things -- your experiences shape you. I think your approach to mother's day is a great one: remembering and calling all the women who touch your heart.

Chris K said...

Nicely written. As one who struggled with infertility and then had our only bio child was born still. Mother's Day is very bittersweet - even after the two we have adopted. The pain never fully leaves.

Anonymous said...

It's a hard day for sure even thought i gave up my rights to be a mum when i had to have a hystarextmy at the age of 28...and was told prior that my chances for becoming a Mum were very rare (and the proceedure was too costly for me and my husband) Family stuff and Mothers day still effects me a bit BUT i also remind myself that I am a mother to all of my pets, I am a very active Aunt to my 3 neices who adore me! So it isnt as if i have no interaction with children at all (which really helps with wanting a child and never going to have one) that's my best bit of advice (but only when you are ready) involve yourself in a child's's "eye" opening...a real experince! Sometimes people want a child (who havent experinced what it's like to watch a child from morning till night and then after watching a child they might feel diffrently...Ive also spent years Nannying other peoples children.

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