Mother's Day, A Special Hell for Fertility Patients (Or Not) | Parts 1 & 2
Part One: Mother's Day Misery
This is part one of a two-part blog. In Part 2, I will give an idea or two, a hint, some suggestions on how to plan a Mother’s Day that doesn’t feel just like suffering, suffering and more suffering.
To start, this blog is about the misery of mother’s day. Think of it as spring cleaning. We acknowledge the grief, pain, disappointment that we experience during Mother’s Day so that we can create a space that is open to receiving something brand new.
It’s the only way to do it, really. So I’m going to indulge in those feelings of grief. Some of you may recognize it as your own, some you may not. I know that a thorough cleaning is the best way that I can think to prepare a place for something more positive and beautiful to grow.
When I think back to my six-and-a-half years of trying to conceive and being in fertility treatment, there are so many low points.
There were many, many high points. Many moments of joy. Many moments of light. And then there were the low points.
The lowest, lowest, down and dirty LOWEST point of the year was always Mother's Day.
I wish I could say that I was a generous and gracious, loving daughter to my own mother on Mother's Day, but that would be dishonest. I know that she was hurting with me and didn't take tremendous offense at my bursting into tears at what seemed like inappropriate moments during our family's celebration of her. Still, it made for a very uncomfortable and stilted day.
There was no escaping it. Mother’s Day was blared all over the radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, and internet. There wasn’t a place to turn that wasn’t all about mothers and children. Babies, babies and more babies. Tender looks exchanged by mother and child. Cards with sloppy, painted handprints. Breakfasts prepared that are barely edible but put together with love and joy. Tear-jerking commercials (I always especially despised Hallmark's).
It was a little like a train wreck. You could not help but gaze, fascinated, even as it ripped your heart out. Imagining what it would be like to get to be that pretty, perky, made-up mom, sitting in bed like a queen, receiving her ill-made breakfast and handmade cards. It’s hard to take your eyes away, from the vision of what you want for yourself.
Conversely, pulling the blankets over your head and staying in bed until the day passes may feel like an option too. I did that once or twice. Amazing how long a day lasts when you do that though. Even with junky books or silly movies to watch. There’s only so much that distraction works. When it came down to it, it just didn’t work for me.
So I cried. Sometimes. And I wrote. Sometimes. And I felt miserable and sad and bereft. Sometimes. The feelings kept recycling, sometimes spinning slowly and sometimes quickly. Every regret I ever had resurfaced, reflected back decisions I wish I had not made.
It was a little like having a fight with myself and pulling out the kitchen sink. You know those fights. The ones that aren’t fair. Where every unkind or thoughtless word you spoke came back and hit you over the head.
After a while of that, it didn’t feel healthy. A shower was in order. A walk, perhaps. A talk with an understanding friend. Holding my husband’s hand, with no words necessary.
And then, mercifully, the day was over.
Part Two: Mother's Day Management
I like lists. They get things out of my head and I feel clearer and more organized. I make a lot of lists because sometimes when I have one single thing in my head that thought bounces around and around and around, careening from one place to another, like it's in a pinball machine, getting knocked from one place to another until that one single thought feels like thirty. When it’s out on paper, on a list, it stays the single thought that it is. It’s manageable.
That’s what I always tried to figure out about Mother’s Day. How to make it manageable.
There was all that rational, cognitive self-talk. All the stuff that I knew:
- It’s only one day, I can do almost anything for one day
- It’s a Sunday so I can hide out at home in the worst case scenario
- I get to celebrate my own wonderful mother and mother-in-law
- Just because I don’t have a child this year doesn’t mean it will always be that way
- It’s a day like any other day, it doesn’t have to be more or less than that
Since those things weren’t overly comfortable, I went into my “what could be worse” list. Sort of like the anti-bucket list that I started recently. (That’s a whole different blog for a different day.)
- I don’t have cancer
- I have a wonderful husband, I’m loved and I love (Not so negative!)
- I’m not homeless
- I’m not jobless
- I’m not friendless
- I’m more healthy than not
And there I stopped myself. Because it was so obvious that making a list of things that I’m grateful for made so much more objective and spiritual sense than making a list of things that had the word not in it.
- I am healthy in most of my body, heart and mind
- I have a wonderful partner/husband
- I am loving
- I am loved
- I have a job that fulfills and delights me
- I am blessed with friends that support me, in good times and bad
- I have a house that feels like a home
- I look up and see the sky
- I am surrounded by birds singing and trees blooming and the world is beautiful when I stop and look
- I have interests that I can indulge in
- I am curious about life and find new things each day to explore
- I am growing each day, learning new things
- I have a family that I love and who love me
- I have a day in which I can create beauty and fun
Perhaps create a list for yourself for this Mother’s Day if you are not yet spending it as a mother. A list of things that you appreciate about yourself and your life. A list that acknowledges those things that light you up and make you so happy that you have a day to play with and in.
This Mother’s Day, I feel honored and privileged to be attending a wedding. To see two mature adults who have found true love and are celebrating it by uniting in marriage.
It may not be the way I would have chosen to spend Mother’s Day.
I have a brand new orange (yes, orange, yet another blog for another day) dress to wear. Vintage gold shoes that are so cute and comfortable that they are a delight. I get to dress up and witness love blooming, be waited on, look pretty, chat with people that I enjoy.
Am I going to enjoy Mother’s Day this year?
And I hope you are too.
Let me know if you need a little help. I’m here. Write and ask a question. Vent about how unfair life is (and it is, it is, it is!). Your comments come to me and me alone. They do not post automatically. Maybe it would help to make a list or write to a relative stranger.
And then get on with your day.
Sending you all loving Mother's Day thoughts. May next year, you have a baby in your arms.
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About Lisa Rosenthal
Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.
Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.
Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.
Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.