It’s that time of year again. We’re building up to the day when social media will be awash with photos of perfect, grinning families, and of declarations of love, for the best mother a child could have. Where shops are packed to the rafters with cards and flowers and special gifts, and almost every email to hit my inbox will tell of a deal or bargain, offering no respite, or escape, for those to whom Mother’s Day might never exist.
Before I go any further, I should point out that I am in no way against honouring our mothers. Indeed, I absolutely believe that we should celebrate them and I fully support showing them we care and love. The tireless mothers, who, constantly, work behind the scenes for the good of their families, should be thanked, and Mother’s Day creates a perfect opportunity in which to do so.
However, I’m also sensitive to the fact that, for some, it can be day filled with pain. One which highlights loss and shattered dreams, which brings with it a grief that has no place in our joyous celebrations. This wondrous day, of festivity and cheer, simply can’t be like that for everyone.
I used to dread Mother’s Day. It was yet another occasion which emphasised just exactly what I didn’t have. It was a day when I knew it would be too saddening to check Facebook, a day when I’d cry, wondering when, or if, I’d ever receive such a card from my own, longed for, child. A day in which I was ostracised from society because I, like so many other aspiring parents, am one half of an infertile couple.
Living with infertility is tough and it’s a battle we fight daily. On particularly bad days, it can be a challenge to simply get out of bed in a morning and face the world, and of course, we never know when those days are going to hit. Some weeks we’re fine to coo over photos of friends’ children and be regaled by anecdotes of colleagues’ offspring. But some weeks we’re not, and every time we overhear someone joke about giving away their child because they had a bad tantrum, or didn’t sleep well the night before, we want to shout and point out how unfair it all is because we’d do, and are doing, absolutely anything for a bad night’s sleep, if it meant we could have a child.
However, we, each in our own way, learn to cope and function as, “regular”, members of society. Teaching ourselves to mask the pain and master our grief, choosing, if possible, to only put ourselves in safe situations, whereby we don’t necessarily need to be confronted by our loss.
And that’s how we live and survive; taking it a day at a time and trying to continue in our lives, in spite of the grief we, continuously, carry. Which is why days, that trigger an onslaught of emotions, can be incredibly difficult to handle, often setting us spiralling back down in to the very dark hole of depression we’re trying to pull ourselves out of. To the rest of the world, it might simply be just one day, but to us, it’s one day in which our failures, our mutilated hopes and dreams, and our lost babies are all gift wrapped in to one big broken-hearted package. Mother’s Day: a reminder that we might never get the chance to feel a baby move inside our womb.
I am now a mother myself. The IVF odds did, eventually, work in my favour and I finally got my miracle. However, despite my wish coming true, I have a very bittersweet relationship with Mother’s Day. Of course, I am thrilled beyond compare that I’m a mother; it was always my wish that I’d conceive and carry a baby to term, and I am thankful, daily, for my son. Yet, to me, Mother’s Day is also a reminder of how painful life can be; how there are no guarantees that all who desire to be mothers, will ever be able to have their dreams come true.
I’m acutely aware that, for some, Sunday March 11th, could be an immensely difficult day. I’d therefore ask that we don’t only celebrate the mothers we know but that we spare a thought, for all those brave women, living with infertility or involuntary childlessness, who desperately want a child, above all else, but can’t.
My heart also goes out to those mothers who have, tragically, lost a child, and those children whose mothers are no longer with them. Whilst I don’t have the personal understanding to write about such experiences, please know you are in my thoughts.