The Mother’s Day Dilemma

By Andrea Hendricks, Clinical psychologist

Mother’s Day is probably the most emotionally “loaded” holiday for women. It’s not uncommon for women to experience emotional distress around Mother’s Day. This could be due to issues with your own mother, loss of a grandmother, loss of a child in the past, or infertility issues.

Because of this, I start prepping for Mother’s Day with my clients at least a month in advance. Everybody can always feel it coming and it can hurt in so many ways.

So for someone who is pregnant but has lost babies in the past or for someone struggling with getting pregnant, what do you do with Mother’s Day? How do you handle it? The resounding answer is that you have the right to decide what’s best for YOU. This year, right now, where you are in your infertility journey.

The first step is thinking about what you will be comfortable with. If you are pregnant, do you want others to tell you, “Happy Mother’s Day”? Would you rather not hear those words? Do you want gifts this year? Or would it be better to just let the whole day go by without mentioning it? Also, consider how you want to handle social media for the day. You can anticipate many photos of happy families; these images may be very painful for you. You may need to take a hiatus from social media during Mother’s Day.

On the other hand, what I often talk with my clients about is the idea of embracing Mother’s Day as a celebration of you as a person and the effort you are making to potentially be a mom in the future. Celebrate the baby that exists right now or the process you are going through.

Once you’ve figured out how you think you will feel and what you will be okay with, let others know your plan. Whether you want to embrace it or ignore it, here are some situations you might be in if you’re struggling with infertility this Mother’s Day and suggestions on how to handle it.

  1. Pregnant via fertility treatments (may have had pregnancy losses in the past). You will most likely feel nervous or unsure about whether to embrace mother’s day. Discussions with family and friends should be about what you are comfortable with, what you want them to acknowledge, what they should say or not say. You may feel like keeping things very low key or nonexistent, or you may want to go out and celebrate the fact that you are currently carrying a baby, as well as the mother figures in your life.
  2. Not pregnant and struggling with infertility. You have the right to tell your spouse, family members, and friends how you want Mother’s Day to be this year. You can tell them you need to sit this year out. You can sit in your room all day watching Netflix. You have the right to curl up in a ball and cry. Or you have the right to get out and do something for Mother’s Day. The most painful thing for someone is not sitting in their room crying, but rather being forced to get out and celebrate everyone else when you aren’t ready to do it. It’s fake, and everybody says the wrong things. You do not have to go through that if you don’t want to.
  3. Struggling with infertility but others don’t know. It may be harder to sit Mother’s Day celebrations out if no one knows why. This may mean you need to decide on at least one person to share with. Pull them aside and tell them in confidence that you’re just not able to participate because of what you’re going through. It may mean you need to be “sick” that day, and that’s okay too.

In all of these situations, it’s most important to prep in your head what your plan is. You have the right to do it your way, whether it’s ignoring or embracing the holiday. There is no right or wrong way to feel or thing to do.

Remember that for some, going out and celebrating their own mom, grandmother, or mother-in-law can help get your mind off of it. It can help you feel hope. It can help you remember that you have good doctors helping you; that you have a plan, and you are taking action. That will always be something to celebrate!

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