Hey, there sweet Mama,
I know we have never met. You don’t know anything about me, and I probably know little to nothing about you. But if you are a mother, Mother’s Day is most likely a time of celebration for you. You wake up to burnt toast ready for you to eat in bed. There are flowers picked from the yard lying next to your pillow. You open the gifts handcrafted with love and read cards made by tiny hands and broken crayons. It’s a great day for you! As it should be! You should be celebrated for all the sacrifices you make for your family. You should be recognized and applauded for your hard work because, being a mother? It’s not easy or always fun.
But in the midst of your celebration this Sunday, can you do me a favor? Can you also remember and acknowledge her? She is the one hiding in the back of the church. Last pew. Staring at her feet with tissues in her hand. She also has tears in her eyes as she passes by the flowers, the Hallmark greeting cards, and the eye-catching #1 Mom necklaces. As you see, Mother’s Day is not a time of joy but rather a day of heartache for her. It’s not a time in which she is remembered but often forgotten. And it’s also a time when she feels alone. Painstakingly different. And less of a woman. It’s not by choice that she has chosen not to be a mother; instead, it has happened by force. The disease of infertility that affects the reproductive organs and destroys 1 in 8 couples’ dreams has caused her to feel this way.
I know you may not understand her thoughts or feelings, and that’s okay. Because I know it’s hard when you haven’t walked in another person’s shoes. But to see her story and feel her pain, would you like to try? If so, let’s take a quick walk down memory lane. Is that okay? But make sure before you lace up your shoes and grab a box of tissues because it won’t be easy. So, if you are ready, let’s take a deep breath in and out…because here it goes…
First, I want you to remember your excitement when telling your husband, best friend, sister, or parents that you were expecting. You were so excited! And do you remember how pregnancy changed your body–it was just a little at first, but then as your baby grew, so did your belly. Maybe even your ankles. And despite the expanding and the stretching, you rejoiced with each picture taken to show the progression. And do you remember the emotions you felt when your miracle kicked for the first time? Or had the hiccups? You were crazily excited, am I right?
What about when your baby moved inside of you at the sound of your voice? And think back to the overwhelming joy you felt and how your heart almost burst out of your chest when you gazed into their eyes for the first time. Do you remember the tears in your eyes and how they made it difficult to frantically count their fingers and toes?
Now sweet Mama, here comes the hard part. Are you ready? I was hoping you could place your hand over your womb and try to strip yourself away from having those climactic moments that have given you life-changing memories. And instead, take a moment to imagine the pain of hearing a doctor tell you that the chances of you conceiving are less than 3 percent. Your eggs do not mature for ovulation. Your endometriosis is not fixable. Your husband has zero sperm. Or your Fallopian tubes are blocked and beyond repair. What about being told you have been born with no uterus? Or already in menopause, yet of childbearing age?
Imagine yourself in your first, second, or third trimester going in for a routine doctor’s appointment, expecting to hear the nurse tell you that a healthy baby is developing perfectly. But you only hear silence, followed by a muffled voice telling you there is no longer a heartbeat.
Imagine, instead of picking out your child’s first outfit, you choose a casket. Imagine the pain of never knowing what it will feel like to have their precious arms wrapped around your neck. Or you never get to hear their voice or look into their eyes. Better yet, your beloved child will never get to look into your eyes and see the unconditional love you have for them.
It’s hard imagining these horrific moments. And no one wants to. No one wants this type of pain for even a second. But for some women, it is their reality, and it often paralyzes them with worry as they fear never being able to experience motherhood. Their reality keeps them feeling alone and set apart, always on the outside looking in while attending baby showers and other social gatherings. Their reality makes getting out of bed and attending a church service on the second Sunday in May an unbearable, painful, and tearful struggle.
Because for this particular holiday, those who only see a negative pregnancy test, have suffered a miscarriage, a stillbirth, or experienced an unsuccessful adoption, their fears, worries, and painful emotions are magnified and intensified. Every Mother’s Day commercial they see, the greeting card they pass by, or the baby giggle they hear reminds them of what they are not but so desperately want to become. It is like pouring salt into their open wound. And on that Sunday, when they watch as each mother stands in the church to be recognized…to be applauded…shame can unexpectedly wash over them as they realize they are forced to be left sitting, unqualified for such honor.
Even for those who hope their situation could change and have faith so strong to believe it will, this day is still not easy. Because the grief from what she is not, and the pain from what she has lost, will come pouring down on her like a hurricane. And while she should be able to get up and run to the church this Sunday to heal her broken heart, much like a sick person runs to a hospital, she can’t. Because for her? The pain is far greater in the church than at home.
But even so, she still needs shelter from the storm. A place where she can find peace. And hope. A place where she doesn’t feel alone. Or scared. But most of all, she needs someone to take her there. Because do you remember in school when the storm alarm would sound, and the teacher would lead you to a place of safety? You were scared, so the teacher helped you to your knees. She showed you how to cover your head with your hands while reminding you in her sweet and gentle voice that it would be okay. Do you remember that? Because that is what she needs.
She needs someone with compassion and understanding, perhaps someone like you, to help her.
After all, her alarm will sound in the coming days, her eyes will slowly begin to open, and she will immediately be stricken with sadness, even despair, as she remembers what day it is. Mother’s Day. She will then need someone to take her to a place of safety, reminding her to get on her knees and cry out to the Lord for His comfort and peace. All while also needing someone to help cover her head for protection. But not with hands…rather with words. But not just any words. His words. Because of her heartache and pain, she will also need to hear a calm and gentle voice reminding her that according to Leviticus 26:9, He will look in her favor and increase her numbers. And she will need someone to assure her that He will fulfill the desires He has placed inside her heart (Psalm 37:4). And He will restore what she has lost. (Zechariah 9:12).
She needs someone to remind her that the most fertile part of her body is not her womb but her heart. Because that is where her dreams and visions are born, it is where her plans are made. And desires are planted. It’s where motherhood starts. It is where it lives. And where it grows.
Although these words might not completely erase her emptiness, they will help her know she is not alone. It will help her see that she is not overlooked. And the child she might have lost has not been forgotten.
So, sweet Mama, if you know someone struggling with infertility, will you be that someone for her? Will you step out of the crowd and be the one she needs? The one who will help shield her from the wind and the rain caused by her grief? Because the shelter she needs could be found inside your hug. Or the thoughtful card you give could be the umbrella that not only helps her weather the storm but also help her dance within it. The individual time and attention you give her on this particular day meant to celebrate you could be exactly what she needs to help her remain steadfast in her faith and be confident in His timing.
Let me ask you again, sweet Mama, will you be someone she needs this Mother’s Day? For her, I sure hope so…
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