Friday, May 6, 2011

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is a very nice holiday--you honor the woman who gave birth to you, or who raised you, or who did both. I love my mom very much and think that Mother's Day is a great way to show special appreciation for everything she did and does to help make me the adult I am today. I am so grateful. I also love my mother-in-law, and she deserves special recognition as well for everything she did and does to help make Bryce who he is today, and the way she made me family so quickly.

But, for the infertile people out there, Mother's Day isn't just a celebration of your wonderful mom.

It's a celebration of being a mom. It's a celebration of new moms. It's a celebration that smacks you in the face -- on the radio, on TV commercials, in the grocery store, by the side of the road, in the card aisle... and you are horribly, overwhelmingly left out of the whole business. Sort of.

See, as a person who is desperately trying everything possible to get to that blissful (if exhausting and overwhelming) state of motherhood but failing at every attempt, Mother's Day is like being excluded from a club that you have done everything everyone else has (and more) to get into. You are feeling pretty damn hazed at this point. Everyone's got flowers and cards and brunches (or so it seems)--everyone but you. You want to be a part of it--you want to be the one who is receiving a card for a new or expectant mom. But you're just not. And you have so little control over it.

My first Mother's Day as a definitive infertile individual was a little rough but not too bad--I had moments of sadness, I by turns avoided Facebook and tortured myself by the parade of cute mother-child portraits and kindergarten breakfasts, but I participated in the whole business. My sister and I cooked up a Mother's Day brunch at my mom's house (I just couldn't face a restaurant brunch filled with young families and babies) and I had potted flowering plants for both my mom and my sister, who is a wonderful stepson to two young men. I was so proud of myself for that touch--"Look how OK I am! I can even put out flowers for everyone and be the only woman at the table without any! I am so well-adjusted." That was before we did IVF. Unsuccessfully. Twice.

This year, I am really, really struggling. I thought for sure we'd be pregnant by now. I thought it was remotely possible we might even have managed to have a baby by now. I have had two incredibly high-tech procedures that put a total of 5 embryos, 5 pre-babies into my uterus. They just didn't step up and stay. So, with those painful experiences, and the increasing sense of feeling left behind, this year I am not well-adjusted. But I have a plan. And maybe my plan can help other people who are struggling with Mother's Day, too:

  • I celebrated Mother's Day with my mom a week early, last Sunday, at a brunch I hosted at my house. If you can't celebrate early, try celebrating at someone's home. I am lucky that I could get away with a one-on-one celebration--I don't know how I would handle an extended-family babyfest. Not well, probably.
  • I had help with cards--I just can't handle the Mother's Day card aisle. There are always wonderful new or expectant mom "Your FIRST Mother's Day!" cards that just take me down when I see them. I am a horrible card-cryer--ask my friend Lynn, who takes me shopping for sympathy cards all the time because a) I can pick out some pretty good ones and b) it is highly entertaining to watch me start sobbing in Hallmark over a greeting card. For someone I don't even know 99% of the time. This year, I had Bryce pick out a handful of cards that he thought I would like and find appropriate, and then I read that small selection (completely missing the new mom genre) and chose the one I thought was the best. I should have Bryce help me more often, because the best of his bunch was an out-of-the-park hit with my mom. So I got the card I needed with minimal damage to my fragile state. 
  • I am going to avoid trolling Facebook this weekend. Starting Saturday, and going through Monday. I will have a strict "no backrolling" policy for those days, because nothing makes you see just how far behind you are in the baby department as going onto Facebook and realizing that there are 8 gazillion babies born to your friends and acquaintances, most of them this past year. This year has been a record for "Congratulations!" messages. I love my friends and think that they are wonderful mothers. But I won't be telling them so on Facebook. It is just too hard. That's probably ok, because if you scroll through Facebook on Mother's Day pretty much all you see is "Happy Mother's Day!," so I'm pretty sure no one will miss my contribution. Also, by not backrolling I can avoid seeing all those horrible inspirational forward-type posts that talk about what a blessing it is to be a mom. Great unless you've been withheld that blessing.
  • I have a plan for Sunday--it is a designated PJ day! I am not leaving the house. We are not going out to breakfast or any other meal where I can be barraged by what we don't have despite trying so, so, so hard. (This is not a sacrifice--I make way better home fries than most diners we've gone to and my friend gave me three gourmet bacons for my birthday so we are doing it up! UN-Mother's Day Brunch, woot!) We aren't going outside (past the back yard at least), because I don't want to see the stroller and picnic brigade. We are camping out inside and having a fun, relaxing day that is completely Mother's Day free. No radio, no live TV, no recorded shows that have Mother's Day commercials on them--just reading, games, and ridiculous movies that have nothing to do with celebrating being in the Mom Club. I may finally force Bryce to watch Anchorman with me. Actually, I am really looking forward to Sunday. 
There it is, my Mother's Day plan for self-preservation! I'm sure that little things are out there that will set me off--I've been a little weepy lately. Small things like the cashier at Wegmans wishing the person in front of me a Happy Mother's Day (and she had no child with her!) but not me (like somehow she had mom radar and something about me didn't compute), and having the only newborn in the area right behind me in line. Like going to Starbucks to meet another infertile friend the other day and being smacked with the "All Mothers Are Special" CD by the cashier. I have nothing against this stuff, but it's just insult to injury.  I'm special too, even though I'm not a mother.  I've come pretty close. I just haven't sealed the deal.

Happy Mother's Day to everyone--but especially to Mothers In Spirit. Those of us who have the mom's heart, and the mom's love to give, just no baby to give it to. Those of us who struggle all year and hope that this will be our first Mother's Day, only to have it come again and be left out of the celebration, pressing our faces up against the glass instead (or in my case, hiding in a closet in my
PJs with Will Ferrell). We are all moms, too--we just haven't found our babies yet. We just aren't recognized for our awesome mom-ness. There is no card for the mom-in-waiting. I hope that this Mother's Day is a peaceful, painless, short-lived day for all of you who are like me. And I hope that everyone who is among the lucky, who is a recognizable recipient of the celebration, is aware of just what an incredible honor it is to be celebrated for such an amazing miracle.


  1. I love this plan! Absolutely ingenious! I wish I'd been nearly this smart about such a tough day during those years of trying and not yet being a mom. Two years ago I had the weirdest Mother's Day because we were matched with our son's birthmom, but he wasn't born till late that night, and of course we didn't know for sure yet what was going to happen. I decided I was an expectant mother and we did celebrate--and that night it turned into the best Mother's Day ever. But I'll never forget the years of Mother's Day making me feel simply terrible as we tried and tried and failed. I love what you said about mothers in spirit too--so true! Wishing you a wonderful Sunday!

  2. As far as I'm concerned, You're an expectant mother. Your expectation time is just further-off.

    I feel like my mother when I consider all the things I can say about your tremendous mothering qualities, and how "expectation" is what is needed, but in light of your last post *grin* I'ma gonna stop channelling her. besides. half the time, she's a bit of a nutjob.

    It's FABULOUS to see your mom looking, I swear!, exactly as I remember her. I still remember sitting in on rehearsals for Side by Side by Sondheim, and know so many of those songs from being there! (although I learned the rhythm to "Losing my Mind" incorrectly from that singer - realized that when i taught the song to a student this year! :)

    I think your plan is absolutely splendiferous. i've had some doozies of Mother's Days, so really enjoy your lovin' snuggle-fest.

    I love you, Jessie.

  3. Thanks, ladies! See, sometimes the incessant need to plan in the face of the unplannable really is helpful. :) Have a wonderful Mother's Day!