When Mother's Day brings only heartache

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

Mother's Day is a time for celebrating all the amazing mums out there, but for many women the day that should be filled with love is highly distressing.

For women who have experienced the loss of a child, can't have children or are desperately trying to fall pregnant and others who would do anything to have a child, but know their time has passed, it can be a day of sadness.

Their hearts are full with the longing of being a mum, but for whatever reason the universe is working against them. And while they struggle with their pain, grief or endless disappointments – they're forced to watch others around them celebrate the joy of motherhood.

While they don't want to take away from other women's happiness, it's terribly hard to navigate the endless questions or the vivid memories. And for these women, it's important we reach out and acknowledge they're hurting and wrap our arms around them.

For Melbourne woman Lauren Boyd when she and her first husband started on their IVF journey it felt like everyone was pregnant.

"Mother's Day was tough," Mrs Boyd said.

"It seemed as though every woman I passed in the street was pregnant. I felt as though I couldn't turn the TV on without seeing stories about unwanted pregnancies.

"Sharing the joy of every friend who became pregnant was so bittersweet."

They had their share of setbacks, but were eventually blessed with twins – Georgie and Hamish.

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When she separated from her husband and remarried, she again tried IVF, but despite attempting numerous times they were not successful in expanding their family together. They both experienced a time of grief for the babies they would not have.

"Deciding it was time to stop and to simply count our blessings of the beautiful children we did have was very tough," she said.

Mostly she wanted other women to know they're not alone.

"I would say to nurture yourself, it is agonising waiting, but so worth the wait, even worth knowing that you did everything you possibly could to experience parenthood regardless of the outcome," Mrs Boyd said.

"Every journey is so different and all our self-care and survival strategies will be so varied, but I would say to other women on this journey that they are not alone, that we all share and understand the emotional and physical toll the process takes and that awful process of wondering whether this is finally the last Mother's Day without a child of your own.

"You are not alone."

Monash IVF counsellor Susie Wilkins said Mother's Day was one of several events and milestones that could trigger difficult emotions for women and couples undergoing fertility treatment.

Something as simple as seeing people buying flowers for Mother's Day acts as a sad reminder to them they're not a mum or they won't be again.

"Because fertility is so front and foremost in their mind, those triggers can be anywhere," Ms Wilkins said. 

"Certainly, those milestones of people's lives can trigger all the time.

"Whether it's Mother's Day, whether it's Christmas, or New Year's Eve. The end of the year can be quite a significant milestone for people, because they thought they would have had a baby by now."

Whether you're yet to have a baby, are hopeful of having another baby or are grieving for a lost child or the children you will never have, the desire to expand your family is all encompassing. Celebratory times can be hard.

For those struggling this Mother's Day it's okay to opt out. It's okay to ask others to understand your heartache.

You don't have to pretend everything is fine and soldier on - spend the day doing what makes you feel most comfortable. Mark the day in a way that suits you, even if that means ignoring it all together, but please know you are not alone.