A Pregnant Infertile on Mother’s Day

Here I am in another one of those bittersweet moments.

Three years ago I miscarried our first baby a week before Mother’s Day. For some stupid reason, I stumbled bleary-eyed and light-headed through Mother’s Day brunch with my family and my sister’s in-laws while my husband was at work. What was I thinking? Trying to put on a brave face, I suppose. Or, more likely, trying to convince myself that I was okay.

For the next three years, the holiday would be nothing but painful. I felt terrible for wanting to avoid it, since my own mother had been nothing but supportive and loving through our miscarriage ordeal and the aftermath. Not to mention she’s always been an awesome mom. She deserves to be honored, thanked, and celebrated. For the last three Mother’s Days, I managed to get through the day, but not without a great deal of sadness and a great many tears. I know it was a part of the grieving process not only from my loss, but also with my infertility. Still, I felt guilty that those negative feelings outweighed my love and appreciation of my own mother. I feel like I let her down. She would (gently) scold me for saying that, of course.

So, here I am today, not only pregnant, but just a few days past 24 weeks. Viability. Does that change how I feel about Mother’s Day? A little. It hurts a little less this year, knowing that I have a healthy baby growing inside me. But overall I still feel the weight of grief. Not only for me, but for all of the women who have lost babies, for those who are still waiting for their take home babies, for those who may never have a child to call their own, and for those who have lost their own mothers. For so many, it’s a painful reminder of what one doesn’t have. And while I am incredibly grateful that I have my own mother and my baby to make this Mother’s Day special, I still grieve for the baby I lost years ago. This holiday will always be tinged with sadness.





Mother’s Day Wrap Up & More FLOW

I think I did a good job of surviving Mother’s Day. I didn’t feel sorry for myself, but there were a few heart wrenching moments, like when my mom teared up over the card I gave her, and when my 7-year-old nephew asked if I was a mom. “I thought all married people were moms and dads,” he told me. Then he asked me if I wanted a baby. All I could do was nod in the affirmative. And drink a bottle of wine. I had fun most of the day, playing with my two nephews and making plans with my sisters. Once I got home, though, I started to feel the weight of infertility. Even though we’re getting closer to IUI and possibly IVF, the idea of our own baby is slipping farther and farther away.

To add insult to injury, I dreamed (again) of breastfeeding a baby last night. Then, this morning, one of the first things I saw was yet another cousin announcing her pregnancy on Facebook. That makes 3 (that I know of), 2 of whom are sisters. I wasn’t surprised; part of me expected this one to be next. I’m happy for her. I think they’ve been trying for a while, but with her husband overseas in the military for the last few years, it’s been difficult for them.


So, with one of the most difficult days of the year out of the way, I’m ready to refocus on taking care of me. In my last FLOW post, I talked about some of the broken connections in my life, primarily my husband and my mother. Today, the topic is Nourishment, both physical and spiritual. The first exercise asks me to think about my favorite flavors, which foods I usually eat to satisfy those cravings, and how I might more creatively and healthily enjoy those flavors.

I’ve always had a wicked sweet tooth. Most of my strongest cravings are for sweet things, primarily chocolate and rich things, like cheesecake and ice cream. I haven’t met a desert that is too sweet. But I also get some pretty intense cravings for savory flavors, like sushi (sweet-bitter of the rice) and Chinese food (sweet, tangy, salty sesame chicken). Now that I think about it, even my savory cravings have an element of sweet. I know I should choose fruit over candy and make my own healthy versions of Chinese take-out, but when I’m in the midst of an intense craving, it’s difficult to make good choices (as I’m sure you can all relate).

My cravings also have a textural element, which is sometimes more important than sweet vs savory. For instance, many times I crave something crunchy, in which case either Peanut M&Ms or barbecue potato chips will do. Years ago, I tried an experiment in which I would crunch on ice instead of food to satisfy my craving. It sort of worked, but the ice was too much for my sensitive teeth, plus it cut up the roof of my mouth.

Aside from food, nourishment also applies to the “soul” and sense of purpose. What “flavors” does my soul crave? The first thing that comes to mind is being by myself. I’ve never liked large groups of people, and even when I’m with just one or two close friends or family members, I can’t wait until I can be alone again. I think this is part of the reason I have such a hard time connecting with my husband. Not only have I always relied on myself for comfort, alone is my preferred state. I like to work through my feelings with myself, in my mind or on paper/screen, and I’ve done so for so long, that I don’t know how to involve others in that process. I love to be alone when I’m exploring nature or a museum. I don’t have to worry about whether the person I’m with is bored or wants to move on to the next thing, or if I change my mind and want to leave. I enjoy things like reading and knitting, because they are solitary activities, things I can do at my own pace, at the time and place of my choosing.

For my blueprint, I will promote nourishment in my life by paying closer attention to the root of my cravings and creating a list of healthy things to satisfy them. I want my body to be healthy for my future baby. A healthy body will help me cope better with the emotional turmoil of infertility, as well. I will promote nourishment by giving myself plenty of alone time to meditate, read, knit, or explore my world. I think it’s important for this to be a daily thing, but I acknowledge that it may take some time to make it routine. Making an effort to be alone seems counter to my goal to have a deeper connection with my husband, but if I don’t feed my own spirit with the things it craves, I’ll only resent spending time with him. Taking care of myself first will prepare me to focus on making us stronger. Whether or not our life together will include children of our own, we need to be a strong us.

Surviving Mother’s Day

A couple of weeks ago, I read an article at Still Standing Magazine called”10 Commandments for Surviving Mother’s Day.” I expected it to be full of advice about putting yourself first, staying away from Facebook and crowded restaurants, and deflecting well-meaning but insensitive comments from others. Instead, I was rather surprised by the first commandment:

Thou shall not feel sorry for oneself.

Come again? I thought the first rule of Infertile Club was that it’s perfectly okay to grieve and be sad, especially on Mother’s Day. Reading on, the author says, “I can have a ‘woe is me’ attitude the day before and the day after Mother’s Day, but on Mother’s Day I’m going to spend the day celebrating what I have…. I will not lament over what I don’t have.” Phew! Okay, that seems reasonable enough. Besides, to mope around all day is incredibly unfair to my own mother, who deserves to be celebrated every day.

The author does address Facebook (stay away!) and self-care (Thou shall pamper oneself and Thou shall be one with nature), but she also mentions two things that I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of before:

Thou shall honor other childless mothers.

The author purchased Mother’s Day gifts from a charity for a friend raising money for adoption. I polled my Facebook support group to find out which members had their own businesses, so that I could support them when buying my Mother’s Day gifts. (I also plan to purchase gifts from them for birthdays and other occasions year-round.) Even though no one was raising money for a charity or their own treatments, I figured it couldn’t hurt to put a few dollars back into pockets continually drained by fertility treatments.

Thou shall do something nice for others.

Specifically, motherless children. I usually wait until Christmas to buy books or clothes for less fortunate kids, but so does everyone else. I love the idea of celebrating Mother’s Day by doing something special for a child who does not have a mother. Because I procrastinated until today, I decided to donate money to a local organization that helps older, minority, and children with special needs find foster and permanent homes. Next year, I’m hoping to do something a little more personal.

I understand that not every infertile is in a place where she can make the most of Mother’s Day, but I do encourage each and every one of you to read the article and see if you feel inspired. I know I did. I was ready to ignore Mother’s Day altogether, but reading these 10 commandments made me realize that my ignoring it would not make it go away. It would not make me feel better–in fact, it would make me feel worse, guilty for not celebrating my own mother. It will not be easy to get through the day, but I need to try, at the very least.