Surviving Mother’s Day

Advice on getting through a tough holiday when you’re infertile

Mother’s Day is tough. Sarah had taken a walk near her mother-in-law’s house every year for the past four Mother’s Days, and each year, she had reassured herself that next year would be her turn. But now she’d had it – no more promises, not much hope, a lot of anger and more pain. This was the first thing in her life that she’d put her mind to, worked her tail and their savings off, and hadn’t been able to do much about. She was tired of crying, of feeling out of control, of waking up to the same loss year after year.

Sarah didn’t realize that she has lots of company. Holidays are hard for most of us, but for people struggling to have children, holidays and particularly Mother’s Day may make them want to pull the covers over their heads and not get out of bed. Or alternatively, throw fertility advice to the winds and indulge in coffee and chocolate until you feel sick. Unfortunately, neither option tends to help.

Taking care of you

What can help is talking to others who have the same struggles. Recognizing this, the University of Colorado Advanced Reproductive Medicine Program runs a support group that is free and open to anyone in the community. Please call Dr. Joan Manheimer, 303-331-1818 for more information.

If groups aren’t your thing, you still can help yourself survive this Mother’s Day. When we’re dealt a rough hand, we have the tendency to join right in and pile on the pain: we stuff our faces with junk; we isolate ourselves from friends; we throw adult temper tantrums and deprive ourselves of everything we might want because this one all-important thing eludes us.

However, one thing you can do to prepare for motherhood is learning how to mother yourself. When you have a child (and you will have a child; maybe not the child you envision now, but if you want to be a parent there is always a way), and your child is hurting, you’re not going to ignore her pain; you’re not going to feed her ice cream till she’s sick. You’re going to listen carefully, hold her tight, and then try to get her involved in something that she likes to do to get her mind off of it.

So this Mother’s Day, take care of yourself: buy yourself that book you’ve been wanting; put on a Cole Porter CD and dance your sweetheart around the living room; give yourself a bubble bath, a manicure, a walk at the Lake; have a long talk with your best friend or some quiet time to begin a gratitude practice.

Infertility has a way of taking over our lives and blinding us to other important gifts, like our partners, friends or family.  Mother’s Day isn’t easy, but learning to find the good in life and take good care of yourself is like any demanding exercise: you have to build up muscles in order to enjoy it. Simply waiting out the storm is not the answer; you need to learn to dance in the rain in order to have a happier (or at least bearable) Mother’s Day.