This is not my first mother’s day as an infertilite; it’s just the first one that I’m not naïve to my infertility. All the other ones passed by just fine, happily celebrating my own mother and grandmother, and always thinking in the back of my mind, “Maybe by next year…” But there never was a “next year.”
So this is the first one that I’m a little worried about. And, at least all the Resolve.org and other infertility tweets this past week have all be filling me with a little trepidation – that, uh oh, this is a really tough time of year. You’re probably going to get depressed and wallow in misery, so have your plan prepared now. I didn’t realize a simple holiday could bring with it warnings of apocalypse; it’s not like we don’t all know there is a Mother’s Day – but we don’t always know when strangers are going to be rude.
Given all these prophesies, I’m a little worried that a switch will go off in my head that will immediately render me depressed, unable to leave the couch, desiring a bag of Tostitos chips and a jar of salsa con queso. I read what all the websites say about how you should have a contingency plan in place for what to say to people, or to treat yourself extra special, or to keep in touch with your feelings and do whatever the hell you feel like doing. I’m not sure all of that is really sound advice, and could be very detrimental to someone’s healing process I could imagine. When you counsel someone suffering from depression, you don’t tell them “Yes, stay in bed all day if that’s what you need. Don’t make the effort to talk to anyone.” If that was a valid treatment for depression, would we need pharmaceuticals to make us do the things you really don’t want to do? Right.
What is an infertilite who’s okay with being an infertilite to do? If I don’t feel twinges of pain and depression in a way that’s going to make me want to hide in a cave all day. Don’t get me wrong – I still get the jealousy of the excitement certain family members display over friends and family making their announcements of arrivals. I make slightly bitter jokes about never going to see What to Expect When You’re Expecting: The Movie (which is probably just as predictable and unrevealing about pregnancy as the book is – just guessing). But does not feeling sad about Mother’s Day (and not being one) make me abnormal? Shouldn’t we also be recognizing that while there are infertilites who are truly suffering on the day (perhaps after a miscarriage, an adoption process taking too long, or emptied wallets from ARTs that didn’t work), there are also infertilites who are making peace with it – and that’s okay too?
Therefore, for all those out there who don’t want to give any one highly commercialized holiday that much power over how they define their emotions about infertility, a declaration:
“This Mother’s Day I will value the life that I have been given and all the wonderful people in it. I will honor my own limits in celebrating the day with others. I have the strength I need because I am a woman – a whole, confident, beautiful woman.”
Ladies, not being a ‘mother’ does not make you less of a woman.