Sarah Sisson Rollandini
A Letter to Fertile Myrtles - How to Help an Infertile Friend Survive Mother's Day
The first thing I want to say to you, reader, is thank you! Thank you for taking the time to look outside of yourself to offer comfort and encouragement to a friend who is struggling with infertility. You are likely already a mother or even a grandmother. If so, your life is filled with diaper changes, feedings, nap schedules, and posting or viewing posts of your little darlings on Instagram. For you, Mother's Day (coming up on May 14th) is a cause for celebration! A time to be honored by husbands and kids and grandkids and to revel in the glory of your role as a mom.
On the flip side, Mother's Day is one of the most difficult days on the calendar for women who are trying to conceive. It is the ultimate reminder of the baby we don't have. On this day, many of us are tempted to close the blinds, pull the covers over our heads, and sleep until Monday morning when all the hoopla--the parties and presents and church services that honor mothers at every stage of life--is over. Mother's Day makes us feel abandoned...even by God.
We need a friend like you to take us by the hand and tell us that you haven't forgotten us. To assure us that you see our hurts and our hopes. We need you to listen without offering snap judgments, but also to encourage us with the truth of God's sovereignty. This is not the time for quoting Scripture or spouting cliches that scrape like fingernails on a chalkboard. We would, however, take your earnest prayers to dispel our fears over shared coffee.
Unless we ask you to, please refrain from scrolling through your cache of baby photos or regaling us with stories of your toddler's cuteness . We'll pass also on complaints of late night feedings or potty training woes. We would trade places with you in a heartbeat. Though your motherhood struggles are real, you have plenty of Fertile Myrtles with whom to share them. While infertility affects 1 in 8 of us, we are scattered, and reluctant to share the depth of our shame.
Yes, hanging out with us can be a downer sometimes. We may simply need you to remind us that we are still useful and beautiful. We often feel like empty, broken vessels good for nothing but the scrap pile.
You can keep your Mother's Day Sunday celebration with family. For now, we will watch from the sidelines and honor our own moms (they hurt for us, too), wondering how we managed to be born without much ado when achieving a simple pregnancy continues to elude us. But perhaps you could set aside a couple hours on Friday evening to drag us to a comedy club or Saturday morning to whisk us away for some retail therapy? You might even post that photo of us posing like partners in crime on Instagram. Spending time with you is a balm for our resentment against a world that has left us behind.
The truth is, some day we'd love to be a mom just like you. And your friendship is a vital bridge in our journey from grief to joy.