By Sarah Banks, Fertility Coach
Mother’s Day is often a really tough day when you are still trying to have your longed-for baby. I remember all too well that sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach on Mother’s Day wishing I was ‘in the club’ – everywhere I looked, people were happily flaunting pictures of their precious little ones stating how lucky they were, and every year I would think: ‘next Mother’s Day I’ll have a baby and be able to celebrate’.
I truly understand how hard it is, so please know that you are not alone in how you are feeling and that it’s completely normal.
It’s really important on triggering days like this to prioritise yourself and your needs – focus on self-care and the things you do have, rather than the things you don’t. It is easier to cope when you are feeling stronger emotionally and taking care of yourself, so take small steps and do what you need to do in order to get through the run-up to Mother’s Day and the day itself. Below are some of my 7 top tips to help you navigate this challenging time.
1) Be kind to yourself
Allow yourself to feel however you feel, don’t beat yourself up over feeling sad/jealous/upset – it’s ok and perfectly normal to feel these things. Acknowledge your emotions and then focus on what acts of kindness will help you get through the day – things or people that make you smile, time out together as a couple, etc.
2) Avoid social media
Unfortunately, Mother’s Day is one of the days of the year when social media is full of posts and pictures about parenthood, so maybe have a day off scrolling Instagram and Facebook to protect yourself. By the time you log back on, these posts should be old news.
3) Celebrate your own mum
It’s the perfect day to focus on your own mum and making her feel special. Over the last couple of years, it’s been difficult to get to spend time with family (and the last two Mother’s Days falling during lockdown), so you could plan to spend the day with your mum/mother-in-law/the special ladies in your life. Maybe book in something nice – visiting them, taking a day trip, enjoying a meal out or an afternoon tea – I’m sure whatever you do, they would love spending time with you and the focus being on them.
If you don’t have a close relationship with your mum, you could have a day out as a couple to celebrate your relationship instead (see tip 5), or if they don’t live locally, why not arrange something over zoom or FaceTime? If your mum is sadly no longer around, you could do something to celebrate and remember them. Maybe think about what you used to love to do together, light a candle, spend some time thinking about them in a happy way and celebrate the time you had with them.
4) Family events
Mother’s Day is often a time when families get together to celebrate. If you’ve got a big family meal planned and are worried about it being triggering or comments being made, you could maybe:
- Speak to family members beforehand (if you are comfortable in doing so) to say you would prefer it if you didn’t talk about babies, IVF, treatment, etc, as it is upsetting, and you want to focus on your mum. Maybe also speak to someone you are very close to who could change the subject if it gets uncomfortable.
- Set a time limit to be there and create an excuse to leave at a specific time if you need to. That way, you know you just have to keep it together for a finite amount of time before you can leave. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love your family; it’s just that you’re protecting yourself and your emotions.
- Nip to the loo for a breather if you’re struggling. Take some deep breaths – in through your nose and out through your mouth – this will help to calm you and give you a few minutes to yourself.
- Plan something you enjoy or that makes you smile for that day too, so you have something to look forward to before or after the meal.
If it’s too hard to go for a family meal due to the way you are feeling, or you’re at a particular point in your cycle where you are feeling vulnerable and wobbly, maybe make your excuses and say you can’t go. Explain how you feel, tell your family that you love them but it’s hard to be out with a large group at the minute, you can always arrange to see your mum separately to celebrate.
5) Focus on being a couple
Have a day together celebrating your relationship and what you love about each other. Why not plan a trip or do something you’ve wanted to do for a while? Maybe think about places to go that are not as child-friendly so that you don’t have to worry about being surrounded by children all day. Spending time out together as a couple is vital, but most importantly, remember to recognise that you are doing all you can to become parents and that you can’t expect any more of yourselves.
6) Think of the things you do have, not what you don’t have
Write a gratitude list of all the things in your life you are thankful for, those things that are important/special: close family, strong relationship, great friends, a fulfilling job, etc. They don’t have to be big things; it’s just good to focus on the positives.
7) Use your support system
If you are having a bad day, call a friend or family member who understands and say you are feeling sad and just need a hug or someone to listen to you. There are also some wonderful support groups out there that are a great source of understanding if you don’t have anyone you feel you can talk to. My online support group is full of amazing people who understand what you’re going through and will be there to help you when you need it, and you are welcome to join. It’s a closed Facebook group called TTC support UK.
So, if you’re struggling in the run-up to Mother’s Day – protect yourself emotionally, do what you need to do to get through the day, and remember – your worth isn’t defined by your ability to have a baby.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah is a qualified personal development coach, and author of ‘The IVF Positivity Planner’, a unique and internationally best-selling coaching journal that helps people feel happier and stronger while going through IVF. Through her work and her own personal IVF journey, Sarah has a deep understanding of the impact on emotional and mental health that infertility causes, and the support that is needed. She also runs online and face-to-face support groups, which anyone TTC is welcome to join for support and wellbeing advice.