Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: Helping an Infertile Friend Survive Mother’s Day

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Helping an Infertile Friend Survive Mother’s Day

If you know me at all, outside of this blog, you know that my journey to motherhood - and by association, homeschooling - did not come easily. This Mother's Day, I would like to share one of the first articles I ever published, originally on Yahoo about four years ago. I hope that you will find it of some value today. Happy Mother's Day to those who are celebrating, and much love to those who are just making it through the day.

I suffered through almost a decade of infertility before giving birth to my twins. By far, the hardest day of each year for me was Mother’s Day. I remember with vivid clarity the last Mother’s Day I ever went to church. They asked all the mothers in the room to come and line up at the front of the church to receive a rose and a thank you from the congregation. The elderly assistant pastor who had never married was the only other woman left standing in the pews besides me.

I felt so conspicuous and left-out, and I vowed never to put myself through another Mother’s Day service again.

If you have a friend or loved one who is dealing with infertility this year, you may be wondering how to delicately handle the holiday. Of course, Mother’s Day is a happy day for most people, and one to be celebrated. But the fact is, infertility makes the day insufferable to many women. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to help them make it through a particularly tough time.

Cut her some slack

If your friend does not want to go to church on Mother’s Day or join the family in taking Grandma out to brunch, don’t push the matter. Leave her alone and let her have some space. For an infertile woman, Mother’s Day is like a day of loss, of mourning the child you do not, and may not ever have.

She is not being selfish, and she does not need to be pressured to join in. Mother’s Day is just too emotionally charged for many infertile women to handle in the public eye, and that’s okay.

Show her a good time

Earlier or later in the week, or maybe even a week or two before, do something especially nice for your infertile friend. Take her out to lunch, go see a movie, or spend the day out hitting the junk stores. Show her a really fun time, and do your best to help take her mind off the holiday and give her nice things to think about.

If you are going out before the holiday, don’t make a big deal about Mother’s Day being around the corner. Just get out and have fun together. But do be prepared to listen if she wants to talk.

Let her talk if she wants

Follow your friend’s lead. She may need to vent about how she is feeling, or she may want to keep her feelings to herself. If she decides to share her pain with you, let her talk. If she doesn’t open up the subject, then just let it be.

Don’t be flippant

Women who are dealing with infertility need people around them who are caring and supportive, not people who are flippant or worse, judgmental. Don’t minimize her desire for a family by telling her she can have your kids, that she should get a dog, or that maybe she is just not meant to be a mom.

Also, don’t tell your friend that she should just give up and adopt. Adoption is very personal choice, it can be extremely complicated, and it is not something people "give up" and do. The wait to adopt a child is often years long, not everyone is accepted, and it can cost far more than most people realize.

Whatever you say, just try to be supportive and offer your hopes and prayers.

Stand up for her

If you notice other friends or relatives giving your infertile friend a hard time, stick up for her. It is bad enough that she is dealing with a pain that many people do not understand, but it is even worse when others choose to kick her while she’s down. Your friend will appreciate it more than she can express if you stand up to the bullies on her behalf.
I am so thankful to be a mother after so many years of infertility. I still prefer celebrating quietly at home with my family rather than making a big show of things out in public. I think a part of me will never truly get over thinking of Mother’s Day as sort of a cruel joke on the infertile women of the world.

I feel blessed every single day of the year to be a mom, and I don’t really need a big party on a greeting card holiday to make me any happier or more fulfilled. I hope every mom-in-waiting gets a lot closer to her first Mother's Day this year!      

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