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Coping with Mother’s Day: Advice from Your Community

“When I was going through treatment, I belonged to an online community of women in various stages of infertility treatment. None of us had kids at the time, but rather than ignore or boycott Mother’s Day, we decided to recognize each other’s shared wish and celebrate how strong we were as women. We organized an Angel Exchange, sending small figurines to our ‘angel buddy’ each with a unique symbol and note of support. To this day, my ‘angel buddy’ and I are still friends, though we have never met. We both have had our IVF successes. I will never forget her love and support on that lonely Mother’s Day!” --  Kim

“I find it best to stay in bed on Mother’s Day, and am blessed to have a Mom who understands my pain. It is almost impossible to put on a smiley face and embrace the world on Mother’s Day when you are suffering on the inside and thinking Why am I not a mother yet? Why are we not celebrating my motherhood again this year?  I deeply love all the mothers in my life but because of my circumstances of infertility for over four years, Mother’s Day is just too much to bare. It feel like it is a day dedicated to reminding me of my failures.”-- Misty

“I celebrate Mother’s Day by celebrating with my mother and sister buying plants and herbs for our gardens and enjoying a pedicure together. All grown up fun; full of gratitude for the feminine energy between us and among us. Women can ‘mother’ each other by caring for one another and bringing compassion whenever needed. I choose to celebrate this on Mother’s Day.” -- Julie

“I suffered from infertility for four long years and lost two pregnancies. I still remember the Mother’s Day that was right after my ectopic pregnancy. I was very depressed and only wanted to hide in a hole that day, even though it meant not spending it with my own mother. I felt that I could not handle what had become one of the most painful days of the year for me. Today, I am the mother of two healthy, beautiful children. Mother’s Day has taken on a new meaning and I enjoy the time being pampered by my little loves, as well and hanging out with my mom. But the day is still bittersweet. Even though my infertility was resolved, my heart aches for the women out there who suffer through that day. I always say a prayer, light a candle, and send out my love to all of those who are still on their journeys.”-- Kelly

To all pastors/rabbis/priests, please take time to honor and appreciate not just the traditional, biological mothers, but also the process of just becoming a mom, which can be very difficult for many including those of us experiencing infertility. It would also be really reassuring to receive the same flowers that the mothers with biological children receive so that our ways of being mothers are not forgotten. There is nothing more hurtful to an infertile woman who badly needs the comfort a religious service can provide than to hear a pastor say, ‘I’m only going to honor mothers who have children because that’s what Mother’s Day is all about.’ Going through years of infertility treatments and/or an adoption process for approval can be just as painful as pregnancy and parenting, only you may never see a child.”  -- Christina

“I always hated Mother’s Day. I tried to avoid everything about it. My mom and my siblings would send me Happy Mother’s Day messages for ‘Duke’s mom’ -- our dog.  And my husband would buy me a small gift or give me a card with the same greetings.  I appreciated the thoughts and always said thanks.  But inside I would feel even more sad than I had before.  A few years ago I broke down and I told my husband that his gesture was just making me feel worse.  He said, ‘But you are Duke’s mom!’  I said, ‘But I’m not a real mom. I love him with all my heart, but he is only a dog!’ He got serious and said to me, "How can you say you are not a real mom?!  That is an insult to him!  You are his mom. You take care of him, feed him, walk him, love him, teach him tricks, take him everywhere. Without you he would not be the awesome dog that he is - everyone raves about how great he is!  You create that, you made that happen. Don’t you ever let me hear you say again that you are not Duke’s mom!’  That was very powerful for me.  It has made Mother’s Day much easier for me to deal with.  And it is all due to Duke and his dad!  -- Andrea

“Mother’s Day is -- and I expect will always be -- excruciating for me. The children I’ve helped raise send me cards assuring me that I’ll always be their favorite aunt. After 25 years of trying, I’ve given up. My peers are becoming grandparents now. I usually spend the day in bed, trying to remember to breathe.”  -- Deborah

“After dealing with infertility for several years, my husband and I decided to get off the TTC roller coaster in December 2010. I was not doing well emotionally since my miscarriage the previous July and needed to make some changes for myself. When Mother’s Day rolled around last year I found I had a choice: I could continue to feel sad and angry that I didn’t have a child of my own to celebrate with, or I could do something nice for the mothers in my life. I decided to do the latter. My husband and I invited my parents, siblings and in-laws to our house for a Mother’s Day brunch. My enjoyment of entertaining and the time and effort it took to plan and execute the party made it impossible for me to feel sad that day. Plus, the gratitude and praise I received from my family members for doing something nice for them made me feel really good about myself.  (And of course, it got me off the hook for participating in any other Mother’s Day activities that I might not have made it through without waterworks!) This year, my husband and I are planning on hosting another Mother’s Day brunch, and it might just become the new family tradition.”  -- Kitty