The first time I remember acknowledging how sad Mother’s Day had become for me was about two years before we started fostering. I had gone to Hallmark to pick up a gift and I started looking at these Willow figures. Out of nowhere this lump developed in my throat and I couldn’t breathe. I got out of the store as fast as I could. Why was I freaking out about a holiday that wasn’t even about me? And that is the moment it dawned on me. It should have been. Infertility had changed me.
Our Infertility Story
If you are unfamiliar with our story, I wanted to update you. If you have heard it before you can scroll. The abridged version is this. Justin and I tried for years to conceive a baby. We tried medicine, surgery and doctors and in the end, we decided to give up trying to conceive and adopt. Our infertility was always considered unexplained. We took one year to just make it be all about us. No trying to get pregnant. No talking about kids. Just fun and us. In 2011 we began the foster training process. In 2012 we were placed with our first baby Mother’s Day weekend who was with us less than four days. In July that same year we were placed with our son Peyton who we would later adopt. In 2013 we were placed with two other short term foster placements. In July of the same year, we were approached by an attorney about a private adoption which resulted in us adopting Paxton. Both adoptions were finalized in October of 2014. In March of 2015 Justin and I took a trip alone to California where I came back with a 6 weeklong stomach virus. Never having been pregnant before it took me that long to realize that it was a baby making me throw up daily and not a parasite. At the end of 2015 Porter rounded out the We Five Kings family as the baby and caboose.
My relationship with Mother’s Day
Many of us grow about making our lives about others and it is a wonderful way to be. However, when things get hard, rather than being able to lean into that sadness and taking time for ourselves, we feel forced to put on that happy face because it’s not about you. This becomes incredibly complicated for people struggling with infertility. This is a Mother’s Day post but let’s be honest that infertility affects men too and there is even less room allowed for a man to grieve on Father’s Day.
Of all the holidays to navigate while dealing with infertility Mother’s Day is likely the hardest. Especially if you have a mother or grandmother that you want to celebrate it feels selfish to make it about your hurt. There are times to stand up and fight through pain and there are times when it is ok to allow yourself space.
1.It is ok to say no.
I remember one time driving to a baby shower in tears. I was on the phone with a friend telling her how much I didn’t want to go because it was just another reminder of my infertility. She said, “then why are you going? You don’t have to go.” and I didn’t go. You know what, everything was fine too. I sent a gift and a note apologizing about my absence and life went on. The thing is that we guilt ourselves into doing things at times that are not good for our mental health. Especially when you are trying to conceive you should give yourself a break. The world isn’t going to end because you choose to take a moment for yourself to breath.
2. You can be sad.
Again, it is ok to be sad. I don’t know why we need to be told this so many times…and you don’t need to explain why you are sad either. It does not make you weak or emotional or vulnerable or a Debbie downer because you are sad. One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is that people only want to be friends with us when we are happy. But let me tell say this. I will take your broken and melancholy any day of the week before I want you to fake happiness for me. Expectations like that do not create real relationships.
3. Grief may not end after a baby arrives.
However, your infertility journey ends you may have residual grief. I have heard people say, “well she is pregnant now why is she still so worked up about everything?” Infertility is an emotional crisis; it is not missing out on the sweater that was on sale at Nordstrom. It is deep and it impacts every part of your life, and it may not be something you just get over immediately. I see parts of my infertility grief peek out from hiding even now almost eight years later. It’s not something that I deal with daily or even monthly but every now and then when I am dealing with a certain emotion I am like, ok I need to acknowledge this because it’s a deep seeded emotion.
There are times that I wish I had the perfect words to tell you. I wish that I could say that I know for sure you are going to get your baby next year. I wish I could tell you that your story ends perfectly. I want to tell you exactly how to get pregnant and end your sadness. But I can’t do that, and it is something that nags at my heart. I want to gather up all of your pain and burden and I want to carry it for you because trying to get pregnant while carrying that load of uncertainty is daunting.
I can tell you this. I know that people can do really hard things. I know that we are capable of living and thriving through sadness. I know that this will not be the end of your story. I know that there is hope and there is love and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Although I can’t tell you when and how it will end, I can tell you that you can survive it and you will be ok.
I strive to keep this space neutral, but I am a Christian and I want to end this post by sharing this verse with you…
Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.”
Remember to be still.