As I approach my fourth Mother’s Day since finding out about our infertility issues, I’m finding that the day doesn’t really get easier.
This week is national infertility awareness week. The CDC estimates that 1 in 8 couples, or 6.1 million women in the U.S. struggle with infertility. There’s a good chance many of those women are sitting in the pews next to you and you don’t even know it.
Church has been especially rough for me on this day. We all know the drill. The pastor asks the mother’s to stand, they’re given flowers, applause, and the sermon is dedicated to them. At some churches the fathers cook breakfast, kids make cards in Sunday school, and decorations about mom abound. It must be glorious to be a mom on that day.
When the pastor says “will all the mothers stand,” here’s what goes through my head:
Well, I have two children but they’re both in heaven so do I stand? If I stand, people will know I don’t have any living children and ask questions. Or worse, they’ll ask if I’m pregnant, which is really upsetting. If I don’t stand do I not believe my children were real even know they were only with me for a short time? Do only mother’s with living children stand?
The thought alone makes me cry because I would love for my children to be on earth right now.
The last few years I’ve actually skipped church on Mother’s Day. While I’m happy for the moms to get their day, it’s really just awful for me.
I’ve come to realize that this day is not only hard for women dealing with infertility and miscarriage, it’s also hard for people who have lost their moms, or didn’t have a mom at all. Churches will try to compensate by praying for those who are waiting, or giving them a white flower. While I applaud their good intentions, to me, that’s even worse than doing nothing at all. I can think of nothing more embarrassing than walking up front and get a consolation prize in front of the congregation. How about doing that on national infertility awareness week instead of making them sit through a Mother’s Day service to get prayed for.
I completely understand that the church can’t cater to everyone, all the time. I don’t expect them to. They should find a way to honor the mothers. I don’t go to church on Mother’s Day anymore, but there are a lot of women who do, so here are a few things you can do to comfort those who might be mourning on that day.
- While it might be tempting to ask all the women in your life when they will be having babies, this is the worst day to ask them. It is so difficult to know who is struggling to get pregnant and bringing it up on mother’s day is just too hard for someone on an infertility journey.
- When people don’t know what to say, they often offer stories from their friends. My friend tried for three years and then it happened naturally. I bet yours is just around the corner. The reality is for many women it doesn’t happen and their medical situation may not physically allow them to have biological children.
- I’ve had people tell me things about “God’s timing” and “God’s will” more than I can count. It’s better to tell them you’re praying for them and actually do it.
- Do something nice for her the week before Mother’s Day. You can bring her dinner, flowers, or a card the week before, and let her know you’re thinking about her with the day coming up.
If you’re struggling to get or stay pregnant, you’re not alone. Please take time to grieve and work through your emotions. And it’s okay to stay in your pajamas, drink wine, and take a day to relax 😀