Mother’s Day is a wonderful celebration for all the mothers in our lives, but it can be painful for those who are not mothers yet. If you are struggling with infertility and miscarriage, the cards, commercials, social media posts of mothers with children, and invitations to Mother’s Day events can sting and increase stress.
As Mother’s Day approaches this year and those stressful reminders continue to pile up, now is an important time to take care of yourself. Here are some ideas on ways to take time out for yourself to heal, reflect, and renew this Mother’s Day weekend.
1. Just Say No– This is really tough for most women, but sometimes you just have to say ‘No’ to events and situations that are toxic for you. There can be family gatherings and social situations around Mother’s Day that may just be too painful right now. Hopefully, you have a family that would understand if you avoided the Mother’s Day brunch and celebrated the mothers in the family in a private way (like a card or phone call). However, if you really must go, enlist an ally or two – people there who know your family-building journey and can help shift the conversation to a new subject when Aunt Martha asks, “So, when are you having kids?” or Cousin Sarah, while holding her newborn baby, asks, “When are you going to make your Mom a Grandmother?”
2. Indulge– Make an appointment at a spa for a massage, facial, or treatment that you’ve been wanting to try – salt scrub, anyone? Treat yourself to a few hours just for you and enjoy.
3. Exercise– If exercise is already a part of your routine, do something special like a longer run, a new hike, or a Zumba class you’ve been meaning to try. If you aren’t exercising regularly, try something new like a low impact class, going for a bike ride, or exploring a new part of your city on foot. Women worry about what they should and shouldn’t do while trying to conceive, and unfortunately, many stop exercising because they are afraid it will decrease chances of conception. Talk to your provider about what’s right for you – maybe extreme exercise like training for a marathon while trying to conceive isn’t best, but you can find a routine that works for you.
4. Mind/Body Practice– Do not underestimate the emotional impact of infertility. Dr. Alice Domar, associate professor at Harvard University and executive director of the Domar Mind/Body Center in Boston, states, “Recent research shows that the majority of women who are infertility patients have clinical levels of depression and anxiety symptoms.” A difficult journey to your family can take an emotional toll that many underestimate. There are many resources to help, from books on mindfulness, the free FertiCalm app you can download and use anytime to ease through stressful situations, counseling, and support groups (check the Resolve.org website for free support groups near you). Some people quit trying to conceive, not because they change their minds about being a mother, but because the stress is too much – find the right support for you.
5. Events Near You– Support groups, fertility walks, meetings or retreats. Resolve.org has a list of events you can search for something near you. My practice, Pacific NW Fertility, is hosting a free Yoga for Fertility event with Lynn Jensen, author of Yoga for Fertility, on Saturday, May 12th, in Seattle. The event is a way to recognize how Mother’s Day can impact people in different ways, remind us all that self-care is essential, and provide a free event for those who may have wanted to try yoga for fertility but have been intimidated before. Email PNWF at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to attend - no experience necessary!!
Society pushes that all holidays are celebrations and bliss, but you are not alone if Mother’s Day brings a mix of emotions. The CDC states that in the US, one in eight couples have infertility and that over seven million women in the US have utilized fertility treatments. Find some time to take care of yourself this weekend and try to make self-care a priority all year round.
See more blog posts from Dr. Lora Shahine at her website.