Supporting those with infertility on Mother’s Day

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It’s no secret that what an infertile woman really wants for Mother’s Day is a child.  I’ve experienced infertility on Mother’s Day. As an infertile woman myself, I waited several long and painful years before we adopted our oldest son and later became pregnant with the help of intensive (and expensive) medical procedures. Mother’s Day during each of those pre-adoption years was excruciating. In the absence of children, I felt broken and useless. The defective wanna-be mother. Even worse, the people around me didn’t know what to say or how to treat me.

To be fair, it’s not like the situation is an easy one. Different people could have approached me in a variety of ways and I may have reacted poorly or well, depending on how I was feeling in the moment. That’s the thing about infertility. Sometimes you hold it together pretty well, and sometimes you want to chuck your phone at the wall when your friend sends you a picture of their pregnancy test.

What you really want when you have infertility on Mother’s Day

Most of us infertile folk understand that knowing how to act around or help an infertile woman on Mother’s Day is a landmine. Well-meaning friends and family either say the wrong thing, or ignore the topic altogether. Unfortunately, neither of these options really help. Here’s what can.

Let her talk about her infertility on MOther’s Day

Although not all women will want to string out their heartbreak to others, it can be helpful. I know that I appreciated those close friends and family members who would take the time to listen to me. Who knew when I was struggling and acted as a sounding board. Take time to listen to her.

Don’t make a big fuss about her (if she doesn’t want it)

While I was going through infertility, I hated going to church on Mother’s Day. The mothers in the congregation were often asked to stand to be recognized. It’s uncomfortable and painful to sit when your entire life revolves around trying to become a mother. It’s just as uncomfortable when others insist that you stand in a well-meaning attempt to make you feel better. I promise. It doesn’t make us feel better. If you don’t know what she want’s to do, ask her. Better yet, make things a little more neutral so women without children won’t be singled out unintentionally.

Ask her what she wants

I know I already said it, but I’ll say it again. Ask her what she wants. Every woman experiences infertility differently. Which means that what she wants for Mother’s Day might be different than what someone else who is infertile wants. Ask. Ask if she’d like a card, chocolates, and flowers or if she wants to go to church. Be open to her ideas on how she’d like to celebrate the holiday.

Let her stay home

Let her be inconspicuous if she wants. If you’ve asked her what she wants, don’t feel bad if she stays home. She might just need to take the day to work through her feelings and emotions.

Focus on others

With infertility, I found it so easy to get caught up in myself and my problems. It was easy to get sucked into depression and sadness. But, as I focused on others it eased some of that pain. So, help her plan a gift for her own mother or grandmother. Ask her about her mother or a similar mother figure and how she influenced her life.  Help her focus on others and how they’ve made life sweeter.

Love her

Infertility can make you feel invisible. While everyone else is having babies and raising families you are stuck in a world of doctors’ visits. The best gift you can give her is to love her. Give her a hug. Tell her you see her and that although you might not understand how she feels, that you know it sucks. Because infertility sucks. Especially on Mother’s Day.

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