As Mother’s Day approaches, my thoughts turn to some very special people in my life. I think of my own mother and am grateful for another opportunity to celebrate her as a wonderful mother to my sisters and me. After becoming a mom myself, my admiration and respect for my mother grew exponentially, and with each year, it continues to grow and flourish. It has been such an amazing experience to watch her add grandmother to her life’s resume and to see her through the eyes of my daughters.
I think of my two daughters who made me a mom, and I still cannot wrap my brain around the fact that these two extraordinary and beautiful little souls have been entrusted to me. My first Mother’s Day was the day that we brought our oldest daughter home from the hospital, and every day since then, when I am with her and her sister, I feel like I have come “home”. I am so much more than solely being a mom, but there’s nothing that means more to me than being their mom.
I have a greater appreciation for my role as a mother, thanks to a five-year membership in a “club” that I never wanted to belong to, but I was. While I no longer am an active member of this particular club, I always will feel a strong connection to past and current members, and Mother’s Day always will be bittersweet. While I now am recognized as a mom on Mother’s Day, when I was in the throes of infertility, with a diagnosis of cervical cancer thrown in the mix for good measure, Mother’s Day taunted me and haunted me during that period.
I always had a vision for my life that included marriage, a career, and children, and when the latter part of that vision did not readily appear, I felt blind-sided. With each failed in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle and each overwhelming adoption application, my vision of being a mom grew cloudier. I questioned myself, my faith, and life in general, as my arms remained empty and my heart grew heavier with grief and doubt.
Then, with one phone call from our reproductive endocrinologist, I joined a new club. The third time may not have been the charm, but our 5th IVF cycle was, as it resulted in our daughter. I was now a mother-to-be. As I exchanged the vestiges of infertility for those of pregnancy, I still had a mental foothold in my former club. When I sat among the other pregnant women at the obstetrician’s office, I never felt like I truly belonged there, and when I saw a few women look at me when I was pregnant and, then, with my newborn daughter, in what appeared to be a sad or wistful way, I felt almost apologetic. Instead of wearing a scarlet “A”, I felt like I should wear a scarlet “I”.
From my first Mother’s Day until the present one, I always recall my own infertility journey, and my heart, thoughts, and prayers go out to all of those who currently are dealing with infertility and those whose journey has come to an end. As we prepare for another Mother’s Day, I want to remember all those who are facing infertility and suggest some ways to extend to them some kindness and support:
- Acknowledge that this day may be difficult. You may not know how they feel, but you can reach out to them to let them know you are thinking of them and are there to support them in whatever they need at the moment. A phone call, a card, a text message, flowers, etc. are all ways to let them know they have not been forgotten on a day that can make them feel invisible.
- Refrain from saying, “You can always adopt”, “Just relax”, “It could be worse”, and a host of well-meaning, yet sometimes hurtful, comments. If you don’t know what to say, just be present for them.
- Allow them to talk, vent, cry, and whatever else they need to do to express how they feel. Infertility can be isolating, and having a strong support system is key. So, be that “go to” person for them.
- Invite them out. Ask them to go for a walk, go see a movie, grab some coffee, or any other enjoyable activity to provide a change of scenery and to boost their spirits.
On this Mother’s Day and every day, I remember all those who long to be a mother and hold you close to my heart.
Just one thing each day . . .