Mother’s Day is tough for the mother-in-waiting (wanting?). Not that the other 364 days a year that you suffer from infertility are a whole lot easier. But as many in the world count down to that special Sunday (May 13 where I am), it gets harder to ignore the gnawing feeling in my belly (it’s not a build-up of folic acid, I don’t think).
Everything has turned pastel in anticipation of the weekend, and my Facebook feed is filled with ads for Sunday brunches and last-minute flower* deals, aspiring viral videos by brands about superhero mums, and posts by friends about the tissue flowers, photo frames and quirky cards their kindergarteners have presented them during the week. The radio stations are going into an I Love Mummy-overdrive.
There is no escaping the reminders that “It’s almost Mother’s Day!!”
But what about those for whom every day is Almost-Mother’s Day, the ones stuck in that liminal state of not-yet?
That limbo is especially pronounced when you’re going through IVF. You’re neither childless nor with child. You shoot yourself in the belly each day, willing these children-to-be to grow. Your ovaries spill over with hope and possibilities. You see pregnant people and mums with babies everywhere. You’re just not there yet.
Add to that the memories of all the almost-children – the ones that could and should have been. The souls that didn’t take, or make it. And the ones you still sit and wait for, the ones that will fill the hole in your heart.
Even the strongest women crumble.
You cannot help but wonder how much easier your life would be if Anna Jarvis, who founded Mother’s Day and then spent her life trying to have it abolished**, had actually succeeded in her mission.
Okay, that’s admittedly a bit extreme, especially since I do have reasons to celebrate Mother’s Day, including MY mum, who is a pillar of strength, having raised her children against so many odds, and a beautiful mother-in-law who loves me like her own. Then there are my siblings, who are wonderful parents, and my many nieces and nephews, who fill my days and nights with quirky questions, boyfriend/girlfriend/school/acne issues, and so, so much love. There is my lovely dog, to whom I am and always will be Mummy. And then there are all the wonderful mummies I know, and fellow IVF warriors who have (finally) won their battles.
It’s just hard.
It’s hard for women who track their periods and spend too much on ovulation sticks. For those whose savings go to Clomid and shots and ultrasounds and labs and blood tests and pregnancy test kits and more pregnancy test kits. For those who show up at their 7th-week scan expecting a heartbeat but leave with a prescription for methotrexate. For those who cannot bear to redecorate their empty nurseries. For those whose bodies, relationships and bank accounts are crumbling. For those whose hearts break over and over and over again.
If like me, you’re waiting to celebrate your first Mother’s Day but seem to be stuck at almost, I’m thinking of you and sending love and hope.
Maybe next year’s will be ours.
**Anna Jarvis, the founder of Mother’s Day in the US, actually disowned the holiday. Jarvis started the holiday in 1908 to honour her own mother – a Sunday school teacher who cared for wounded soldiers during the Civil War. She successfully campaigned for it to be made a holiday, which it was in 1914. But by 1920, disgusted by the crass commercialisation that followed, she embarked on a mission to have it abolished (she kept trying for the rest of her life). In a press release, she called florists and greeting card manufacturers “charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers, and termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest and truest movements and celebrations.”