Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate our wonderful mothers – but it can also be a source of pain for the women who long to be mothers and can’t.
Fertility Network UK (FNUK) estimates around one in six couples in the UK will experience difficulties conceiving, for a multitude of reasons ranging from medical conditions affecting one or both partners, to unexplained infertility. And even women who do manage to get pregnant may not end up becoming a mother because of problems including recurrent miscarriages.
And that means Mother’s Day can be a stark reminder that while there are countless mums out there celebrating, many women with fertility problems are not among them.
“Mother’s Day can be one of the hardest days of the year for anyone who’s struggling to conceive,” says Gwenda Burns, chief executive of FNUK. “It can amplify the isolation people often experience when they’re going through fertility issues, and can feel like a cruel reminder of everything you most long for.
“It’s hard to escape the constant reminders about the day, which exacerbate the sense of loss and grief.”
Here’s what Burns suggests may help women struggling with fertility issues get through Mother’s Day…
Acknowledge your feelings are normal
Most women who want children but are struggling to have them, or who’ve had to accept that they’ll remain childless, aren’t going to relish Mother’s Day, other than trying to make it special for their own mother.
“It’s important to acknowledge this isn’t going to be an easy day if you’re experiencing fertility issues,” stresses Burns. “Recognise that your emotional responses are valid, and be kind to yourself.”
Have a plan for the day
Rather than just waking up with a sinking feeling that it’s Mother’s Day and it might make you feel miserable, Burns suggests thinking about what you’re going to do with yourself beforehand. “Although it may feel as if it’s impossible for Mother’s Day to be anything other than distressing, if you make a plan ahead of time, then you have some control over the day,” she explains.
Do what YOU want
There may be lots of Mother’s Day-themed events going on, but it’s fine – and normal – to avoid them and do what you’d like to do instead, whether that’s booking a pampering treatment, going out for a meal, or not doing anything different at all. Burns advises: “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do, and it’s OK to turn down invitations. If you want to go out, perhaps take a walk in the spring sunshine.”
Give social media a miss
There’s bound to be countless references to Mother’s Day celebrations on social media, so if you don’t want to see photos of big bouquets of flowers and boxes of chocolates given to very lucky mothers, then it’s very easy to steer clear of social platforms. “It may help to take a break from social media,” suggests Burns.
You are not alone
You’re not the only one who won’t be enjoying Mother’s Day, so whether it’s getting together with childless friends, or connecting with people in fertility groups, it can help to talk to other women who feel like you do.
“This can be a good time to connect with others who share similar experiences and understand how you’re feeling,” says Burns, who suggests trying Fertility Network’s groups and online meet-ups. “Don’t forget, Fertility Network UK is your charity and we’re here for you at this time, so please remember you are not alone,” she adds.
Fertility Network UK’s free support line is open five days a week from 10am to 4pm, run by two former fertility nurses. Call 0121 323 5025 (Diane, Monday/Wed/Fri) and 07816 086694 (Janet, Tues/Thurs).