Empty Arms on Mother's Day

For all too many women, the most dreaded day of the year is Mother's Day. On this particular Sunday the thought of attending Church, or even of spending time with one's own mother might seem to be an impossible task.

In the United States 12% of women of reproductive age, or roughly one in 8 couples, are considered to be infertile. Additional studies show that somewhere between 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage.

Unfortunately, there are many ways to find yourself with empty arms on Mother's Day.

Shari Stewart of The Stewart Institute for Infertility states, "The feelings around Mother's Day can range from aching grief to raging anger. Added to the emotional turmoil is a physical cost; those knots in your stomach, and clench your teeth and fists emotions are reflected in your body, with elevated heart rate and blood pressure, release of stress hormones, and increased blood clotting - all factors which are not constructive to conception. Ignoring the holiday, however, may be unrealistic, given media saturation and possible family traditions or pressure."

Many women keep their struggles with ungraspable motherhood secret from the world and suffer through days like this in silence. Others may be people pleasers, unwilling or unable to say no to family or friends who insist on their presence at events that are truly too painful to attend. And unfortunately, even well meaning friends and family often make inappropriate comments to childless women, intensifying the grief that accompanies them to family gatherings on this day.

Despite good intentions, the rose ceremonies in which mothers are honored in many Churches can be horribly painful for women left standing without a rose. Compellingly, Stewart wonders what ministers would do differently if they realized that one out of every eight women in their congregations were grappling with infertility.

On Mother's Day, and on every day, women in this situation have the right to put themselves first. According to Stewart, there are two ways to proceed. One is to create a day that is healing and healthy. For many, folding physical activity into the mix is a good idea, as regular exercise often helps individuals to cope with their own grief. It may also be wise to avoid situations that include lots of children. Another option is to contemplate a private Mother's Day and create a celebration that honors your own longing for motherhood in whatever way feels right to you.

Knowing that Mother's Day is coming, It may be comforting for you to create your plan for the day a week in advance. Try to determine what will be the most soothing, or least painful, way for you to spend it. And then, simply proceed with that plan. If your day must include family, it might be comfortable for you to consider options that will separate you from hordes of nieces and nephews, or pregnant family members. Consider taking your own mother out to breakfast for example, and let the rest of the family see her later on for lunch. Or, you might want to consider getting away from it all. This just may be the perfect weekend to take a mini cruise or romantic trip with your spouse.- or to just tell people that is your plan. You can stay home and watch funny movies non stop. Whatever works for you is fine.

You will survive this day.

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