As Mother’s Day approaches, the world prepares to honor all women who have played a role in the lives of their children. I’m pleased that our culture has expanded our sentiments beyond biological mothers to include godmothers, stepmothers, adoptive mothers, aunts, mothers-in-law and even those who have lost their mothers. However, there is one group that is often overlooked and that is women who struggle with pregnancy loss and/or infertility. According to the Centers for Disease Control and the American Pregnancy Association, 10-15% of couples in the U.S. struggle with infertility. As I’ve grown personally and professionally, this has become an important topic to me because these women often suffer silently with guilt, shame, sadness, and confusion. They put on a smile or “like” at yet another celebrity baby bump photo or suffer through another baby shower for someone else.
Studies show that some women may feel the emotional aftermath long after the miscarriage or failed fertility treatment. I appreciate influential women like Gabriel Union, Pink, and Celine Deon for boldly sharing their stories. I also applaud all the organizations and professionals who work with this special population. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, but as Mother’s Day nears, lets show some compassion to our dear sisters. For some women, Mother’s Day may be a reminder of a painful reality rather than a celebratory holiday.
Here are some tips that could make Mother’s Day (and other days) special for a special woman in your life who has experienced a miscarriage or infertility.
- Acknowledge her experience as a genuine loss (of life, dreams unrealized, identity etc).
- Encourage her to see a therapist with experience treating women/couples with infertility needs.
- Help her find a support group (in-person or online).
- Avoid insensitive remarks (e.g. You can just adopt.; You can have my kids!; Just forget about it and it will happen.)
- Ask for her permission to share photos and stories of your Mother’s Day, family outings, child’s development etc.
- Give her permission not to participate in events that might make her uncomfortable or upset like baby showers and kid birthday parties.
- Avoid sending the wrong message about God (e.g. You must not have enough faith.)
- Donate funds to a maternal waiting home or other charity in honor of her rainbow baby.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers (biological and otherwise), women with rainbow babies, and women who have been unable to conceive but are mothers in their hearts!