My dear sisters in infertility:

This is such a difficult season and time of year, isn’t it?

The emotional days leading up to Mother’s Day…

Pain

Dread

Anticipation (not the joyful kind)

Avoidance

Guardedness…from family, friends, community, church members

I KNOW this pain. (https://drjulieshannon.com/ten-years-life/)

I experienced many years of active infertility and three miscarriages – I am involuntarily childless. Childless, meaning the three babies I hoped to have here on earth are absent. I’ve had to learn to live life in spite of being less these children. (More on this topic at a later date.)

There is no salve for the raw awfulness of unexpected loss or inability to achieve conception. Month-by-month miniature times of mourning appear.

THAT SAID…

May I offer a word of encouragement?

You see, I lived alone in my pain for a long time. Quietly suffering disappointment, tears, railing at God, stressing over procedures, fretting over physical issues. I knew I had friends who cared, yet they didn’t know what to do and I didn’t have the energy or desire to try to explain or include them (not to mention the rollercoaster emotions, physical humiliation, and just plain weariness). The more I kept my hurt to myself the deeper the hurt reached and consumed my insides and thoughts.

I put the Private Property/No Trespassing signs up in full view.

I did my best to answer, “Fine” to as many questions as possible and tried to keep up the façade of being okay.

Here’s the problem.

I shut the gate so tightly no one dared come through to sit or walk with me in the depths of despair. For a time, I was hidden from everyone, including myself.

I eventually let others in and am so thankful I did. Will you consider inviting others into your infertility sooner than I did?

It will take work and intentionality on your part.

Encouragement

Here’s my encouragement to you –

  • Before you are bombarded by ads, shows, movies, and plans for Mother’s Day, will you reach out to a close friend, family member, counselor, or religious advisor and ask them to be part of your journey? To walk with you, listen, plan an activity to bring you joy on a hurtful day?
  • Will you take down the No Trepassing Sign(s), open the gate (or door), and lay out the welcome mat to allow someone into this sacred space?

You see the flowers in the picture above? Just outside your loneliness there IS someone who may just be waiting for you to include them. They are standing amidst the overgrowth and weeds offering brilliance and color (LIFE!) to your stagnant state.

(If you are in the initial stages of grief or pain, please take your time in this process – I certainly do not mean to push anyone, I just want to encourage you to open yourself up to the company of others, as you feel able.)

Please know that along the way you will need to offer a healthy measure of grace. People won’t know what to say, will inadvertently say the wrong thing, and need to be educated on your experience, to the extent you want to share. But if they love you and genuinely want to be with you, explain what you need—company, care, food, activity, or silent presence.

Caution

A word of caution: there might be someone who just can’t handle your distress or tries to emotionally shut you down. We never know what motivates others or what pain they have buried inside. Let it roll off and pray to invite another who is willing and full of care!

Don’t give up!

You Are Not Alone

This Mother’s Day, please know you are not alone. There are others who have gone before you and journeyed through the trial and grief. I will specifically pray for the women suffering in the midst of this uncertain season of life—for your/their peace, comfort, and joy.

There are people and flowers just outside our gates. May we have the eyes and desire to see them, to invite them in and allow ourselves a bit of beauty and possibly a glimpse of joy this Mother’s Day.

(BTW, if you have a relative, friend, or co-worker in the midst of infertility and they reach out to you, you will find a few tips here: https://drjulieshannon.com/help-with-an-unbearable-burden/)

If you are in the midst of infertility and want to help someone learn how to help you, send them the link too—a simple starting point for all.