As we gear up for Mother’s Day festivities and gifts, I notice a familiar mix of emotions: love, gratitude, excitement… but also grief, fear, and pain.
So, I will share with you the reminder I have shared with myself every Mother’s Day for years: Celebrate Mother’s Day, find joy and shower love on the mothers in your life, but also be kind to yourself and have empathy for those around you who may be experiencing pain.
This illustration from Mari Andrew, which I shared in last year’s Father’s Day blog, sums it up nicely:
My personal experience includes the fear of infertility. I want to shout out National Infertility Awareness Week, which just recently ended. One in eight couples in the US struggle with fertility. Those numbers are higher in chronic illness communities, due to conditions like Endometriosis and PCOS. The shame and stigma around infertility is only recently coming to light through efforts like Resolve’s storytelling campaigns. My own family has seen its fair share of difficulty conceiving, as well as miscarriages. I myself have PCOS and, as a result, rarely ovulate. I also have EDS/POTS/MCAS, which can all cause pregnancy complications and can become worse after childbirth. Doctors I speak to about pregnancy have no idea what to tell me — it may go fine, it may be a complicated and ultimately debilitating process. Yet, I’ve wanted to carry a child for as long as I can remember and now, years into marriage, I get pangs every time I see a baby. Pangs of love and hope, but also pangs of fear.
I have spent years preparing, doing everything I can to get my body and emotions strong enough to make pregnancy possible. In the words of Olaf:
My doctors, spouse, and I had all decided that this summer was the time to start trying… but now with COVD-19, my carefully constructed plan is in shambles, and I’m left once again in the unknown.
For this and other reasons, Mother’s Day 2020 is feeling particularly tender.
A year ago, my own mother was diagnosed with cancer. By Mother’s Day, we did not have a great sense of her prognosis. She still had multiple surgeries and treatments ahead, painful decisions like whether to get a port, or weighing the cost of radiation vs. removing her organs completely. We felt a renewed appreciation for everything my mom is and does for our family, but also a new fear that still lingers today. My mom is doing quite well, but she will be going to the hospital (not a fun thing during COVID quarantine when you are immunocompromised) for an infusion just days after this Mother’s Day. My siblings will not be able to attend our celebration because their quarantine is too far away.
And speaking of sisters, my sister Becca is experiencing her own motherhood challenges. Because of her PCOS and thyroid condition, it took Becca years of trying and rounds of IVF before getting pregnant… with twins! While I’ve been sick my whole life, she was largely asymptomatic before pregnancy. Yet her birth experience was terrible, and riddled with medical complications. She has since developed debilitating symptoms of EDS/POTS/MCAS. This time in quarantine has been particularly difficult. With two three-year-olds home all the time, a job, and multiple chronic illnesses, being a mother is incredibly difficult. Maintaining her previous standards of a “good mom” is simply impossible. If articles circulating social media these days are any indication, parenting in general is being put to the test during quarantine. Many moms are likely going into this holiday feeling inadequate and guilty.
I write this to our lovely Mighty Well community because I know I am not alone. I know there are others of you out there for whom illness, infertility, miscarriage, cancer, disability, loss, fear, disrupted relationships, parenting insecurity… have impacted your view of Mother’s Day. So as you see our offerings and celebrations during this time, know that we see you. We each have our story, our own fight.
If you ever need a Friend in the Fight (or many!), you are welcome to join our facebook group. We would love to hear your own story, the mothers in your life that bring you strength, and the challenges that make this holiday as human as you are.
Sending love, peace, gratitude and spoons to all of you. ❤️