On Mother's Day last year, I remember being so excited for the future. I was hopeful that despite not yet being pregnant, it was imminent. It would be my last year without being a mother, or at least an expectant mother. If only it was that simple.
One year, twenty-eight pregnancy announcements from friends and family, and more medical appointments than I'd like to count later and I can safely say that I am no longer so hopeful. Infertility is emotionally and physically draining, and I cried enough tears in the past year to last me a lifetime, but I'm really ok now. My journey to motherhood will be different to the norm but I am excited by it. My support network is brilliant, and I cannot thank them enough for helping me through this and supporting my decisions. My marriage is stronger than ever; this was meant to either make us or break us, and it has made us. But with Mother's Day fast approaching, I once again start to feel weak.
For those of you in the same rocky boat that I am in, here is some advice that I hope might help you to get through the day:
Don't be strong.
You undoubtedly put pressure on yourself every day to be strong; be strong when your friends announce their accidental pregnancy, be strong when you're in the toilet cubicle at work and your period starts, be strong when people give you all the useless advice you neither asked for nor wanted. This Mother's Day, don't be strong if you don't want to be. If you want to hide under a duvet crying whilst watching old episodes of Gilmore Girls and eating far too much chocolate, then do it. Be self indulgent, you deserve it.
Don't be bitter.
Having friends with babies and children is hard when it is the thing that you want most in the world. Please remember though that you want your baby, not theirs. Their fertility has no correlation to your infertility. Many of my friends will be celebrating their first Mother's Day with their babies this year, with another due to pop shortly after. Do I wish I could join them? Of course. But my lack of a baby has nothing to do with their journey into motherhood. They will have their babies whether I do or don't, and I wouldn't wish this suffering on anyone let alone my friends and family. I love the time I spend with all the babies and children I am surrounded by, and the love I feel for them is immense. Let them bring happiness into your life, not bitterness.
Don't feel you have to hide this Mother's Day. If you are comfortable sharing, then put your story out there. I will talk to anyone and everyone about our infertility because I am not ashamed of it, and you do not realise just how many people are going through their own fertility struggles unless people start to talk about it. By opening up, I have heard from so many old friends who have similar stories to tell, and I am blessed that they have shared them with me. If you're not ready to talk to your friends and family, then there is so much support online; the #infertility community is out there and they are ready for you.
Most importantly, this Mother's Day, take care of yourself. Whether you have given up on your journey to motherhood, or if you are still fighting your way there, you deserve so much love and respect. The day will be tough, but so are you. Do whatever you need to get through it, without guilt, and without pressure. Be honest with your partner about your feelings; I have made it very clear to my husband that I am dreading the day. I am lucky this year that I get to spend a few hours with my stepson on Mother's Day, but although he means the world to me, he is not mine. I don't know yet if I will ever get the chance to celebrate with my own child.
I am lucky to be spending Mother's Day with the most amazing woman in the universe. Along with my dad, my mum has done nothing but love and support me my entire life. I will be thinking of all my friends who are fantastic mothers. I will be thinking of one friend in particular, my best friend, and sending her all the love in the world on what will not be an easy day for her. I will be thinking of all of those who have lost their mothers, and the mothers who have lost their children.
I will be spending this Mother's Day trying to hold onto the hope that someday, maybe even someday soon, motherhood will happen to me.