The other side of Mother’s day
Infertility. It’s one of the most heart-wrenching things someone can experience in their life. The pain is often silent and hidden, with many feeling ashamed, isolated, and completely devastated that their time to be a mother or father has yet to come.
For hopeful parents struggling with infertility, simply getting through life on a normal day can be a challenge. And as if normal days weren’t bad enough, Mother’s Day can feel like one of the most difficult and triggering days of them all.
To shed light on this silent pain experienced by far too many, we’ve created an article exposing the “other side” of Mother’s Day. We’ve also included some practical advice for hopeful parents and the community of supporters around them.
Mother’s Day: A Painful Reminder for Women Trying To Conceive
Mother’s Day is not intended to be insensitive or uncaring. It’s supposed to be a day for us to express gratitude for the mother figures in our lives. However, for women yearning to have children of their own, this day is a stark reminder that this milestone hasn’t happened for them.
This rings true among many members of our community. In a recent survey, we asked a group of women currently trying to conceive (TTC) about what they think of the celebrations surrounding Mother’s Day. Of the 240 respondents, more than one-third of them (38%) admitted they feel “heartbroken” and “annoyed”.
Why is it so difficult?
Emotions surrounding infertility are complex. Here are just a few of the key reasons why Mother’s Day can be triggering for those TTC.
It brings about feelings and emotions related to past traumas
The Office on Women’s Health estimates that approximately 10% of women in the United States struggle with infertility. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also estimates that 26% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.
It’s easy to see these numbers as just statistics—but, it’s important to recognize that there are real people behind the figures. Real people who are experiencing trauma related to motherhood on a daily basis. This trauma can feel even more raw and vivid on a day like Mother’s Day. Two members of our Mira community weighed in on this by saying:
“I should have been pregnant this Mother’s Day but I had a miscarriage, so it was hard to deal with that.”
“I have had a miscarriage and in my heart I feel like a mom, but I don’t feel like others acknowledge that in me.”
Even though they may rationally know that Mother’s Day is supposed to be a “good day”, they still can’t help but be reminded of the sights, sounds, and emotions related to endless fertility treatments, doctor’s appointments, and/or miscarriage(s).
Another reminder of having fertility issues
Infertility is difficult to cope with on a normal day, let alone a day where everyone is celebrating the very thing that you are desperate to accomplish. One member of our community shared, “I also want to be celebrated, but years of having infertility results in never being called “Mom”.
Those who are still hopeful that they will conceive can also feel particularly sensitive, hopeless, and frustrated on Mother’s Day. One woman shared that Mother’s Day feels like, “Another annual marker that (pregnancy) hasn’t happened yet. Similar to Christmas where you imagine Santa and gifts and family… you imagine your first Mother’s Day and it’s just another reminder that this isn’t it.”
Many people find comfort in being patient and knowing that their time will come eventually. However, Mother’s Day can cause negative underlying emotions to resurface, and these emotions can be difficult to manage on a day when you are supposed to feel “happy”.
It can make individuals feel alone, forgotten, and left out
The numerous family and community celebrations related to Mother’s Day can make hopeful mothers feel isolated and left out. One woman shared her perspective by saying “I lost my baby at 20 weeks. Everyone else will be celebrating having had their live babies and here I am, a mother without a child.”
Whilst it’s easy to skip a Mother’s Day brunch in person, it’s not always easy to pass on the Mother’s Day celebrations online. From the constant “cheerful” advertising to the picture-perfect photos from mom-fluencers, Mother’s Day can feel like an exclusive community that a hopeful mother struggling with infertility will never get to experience. One of our community members shared that for her, Mother’s day “feels like a “club” I want so desperately to be a part of but haven’t been allowed in.”
We reached out to a handful of our community members about whether or not they would describe Mother’s Day as a “triggering” or “difficult” day for them and why.
Emily from Baltimore responded by saying, “While I wouldn’t describe Mother’s Day as triggering for me, I would say that it has become increasingly more difficult the further along I am in my fertility journey and as more of my friends and family are continuing to have children. Social media specifically can be hard on Mothers Day as I feel I am bombarded with posts and things that make me feel sad and excluded.”
Sharlotte from Kamloops BC also responded with, “I would describe Mother’s Day difficult not so much triggering because every pregnancy announcement is just that. It’s a love-hate relationship. I love celebrating Mother’s Day with my own mother. She’s my rock and I know how challenging motherhood was for her. I love celebrating her. The other side is difficult. My two best friends are moms and I love my godsons – don’t get me wrong. It’s been five years and counting and waiting and asking myself when is it my turn. I want nothing else but to be a mom. It’s almost like rubbing it in my face but obviously unintentional. The last few years especially have been hard.”
How to Survive Mother’s Day When You Are TTC
We know that Mother’s Day can be extremely painful if you are TTC. To make the day go as smoothly as possible, we recommend trying the following strategies.
Take a digital break
Taking a digital break from your personal email and social media is a great strategy for limiting the messaging you are exposed to on Mother’s Day. Whilst it might be hard to avoid TV advertisements or family celebrations altogether, both Emily and Sharlotte agree that staying off of social media is an effective way to manage difficult emotions on Mother’s Day.
Make plans for yourself
If you are TTC, you might be avoiding the thought of Mother’s Day completely. However, this strategy only leaves you vulnerable when the day arrives.
Instead, we encourage you to be proactive about what you will do to fill your time on Mother’s Day. Whether it’s planning a day trip somewhere exciting or having a simple spa day at home—taking control of your Mother’s Day plans is a great way to take care of yourself and your needs. To proactively manage her emotions on Mother’s Day, Emily focuses on her own mother and grandmother, saying “I try to spend my time loving on them and on making the day special for them.”
Know that you are worthy of motherhood
Just because you have struggled with miscarriages or infertility in the past, this doesn’t mean that you are unworthy of motherhood. Infertility is a lot more common than you might think, and it has nothing to do with your ability to be a good mom.
If you do find yourself becoming increasingly self-critical and negative, the McLean Hospital recommends taking a moment to pause and label your negative thoughts as just “thoughts” rather than “truths”. You may not be able to stop each thought from popping up, but you can stop yourself from accepting them, dwelling on them, and letting them take over your mind.
Know that you are not alone
Even though it can feel like you are the only one that is feeling sad on Mother’s Day, it’s important to remember that you are not going through it alone. There are millions of others out there who also dread the thought of another Mother’s Day passing by.
If you are struggling with feeling isolated on Mother’s Day, we recommend speaking about it with someone you love and trust. You can also reach out to one of the many wonderful TTC communities where there will be others with similar experiences and feelings.
How to Support Others
It’s normal to feel a bit uncomfortable or unsure about how to interact with people who are TTC around Mother’s Day. The following tips may help you navigate this situation with your loved ones.
If you have a friend or family member who is TTC, your initial instinct may be to avoid them around Mother’s Day altogether. However, instead of being ignored, more often than not these individuals want nothing more than to be seen and heard. Reaching out with a simple text or phone call not only reminds them that you care about them and their TTC journey, but it gives them the opportunity to open up about anything that’s on their mind.
It’s easy to offer words of encouragement like “your time will come” or “it will definitely happen, you just have to be patient.” However, before bombarding your loved one TTC with every cliché in the book, make sure that you are actually listening to what they are saying. Being a good listener means that you are giving them your full attention, you are not interrupting them, and you are not being dismissive of their feelings.
Ask what they need
Once you have listened, make a conscious effort to ask them if they need anything. They may only need someone to talk to and a shoulder to cry on, but sometimes they may need something practical taken care of. For example, if they are supposed to bring cookies to a family Mother’s Day event but they just don’t feel up for it, offer to take care of it for them. Simple gestures like this can go a long way to helping your loved one feel supported.
Here at Mira, We Also Care
At Mira, we deeply empathize with the experiences of individuals and couples trying to conceive, and we know that Mother’s Day can be challenging.
Here are some of the steps that we have taken this year to help make Mother’s Day less painful for our community:
- We are running an information campaign to shed light on the “other side” of Mother’s Day.
- We are giving our community the opportunity to share their feelings about Mother’s Day with us on our social media pages.
- We are not doing a traditional Mother’s Day promotional campaign, but instead, we are using the day to focus on supporting those who are struggling.
- We are offering subscribers the chance to opt out of all Mother’s Day-related emails, and we are marking all social media posts related to Mother’s Day as sensitive content.