Dear Heart, how are you feeling this week?
Are you finding ways to support and comfort yourself through the sticky moments of this journey?
There is a lot going on at the moment. This past Sunday marked ‘International Bereaved Mother’s Day’. It is also ‘Maternity Mental Health Week’ in various countries at the moment, and of course Mother’s Day is coming up on Sunday, 8th May. It can be a confusing and bittersweet period where we each do our best to walk the fine line between grieving loss and infertility, and celebrating motherhood/the mothers in our lives.
In recent years, I’ve noticed more and more awareness around and consideration towards the infertility and pregnancy loss community. I’ve seen many touching posts offering support to women dealing with infertility and to those who’ve experienced losses on social media over the last week, as well as a lot more media coverage on these topics. A few companies have also shown some sensitivity with their email lists, giving subscribers the option to opt out of receiving any Mother’s Day related correspondence as they are aware that it was a difficult time for some.
I appreciate these small thoughtful gestures because they are indicators that wider society is acknowledging the emotional and mental impact of infertility and pregnancy loss. It gives me the sense that years of speaking out, educating and advocating for understanding and sensitivity towards women who struggle with infertility and how it affects their lives is paying off, is helping to shatter the silence, the stigma and the shame that often accompanies it. It opens up space for those of us who face infertility to feel seen and it says – ‘You’re not forgotten, your loss is not forgotten, we see your pain and you’re included in our societal narratives’. Being seen, acknowledged and included is profoundly healing in many ways. With this as a foundation, my hope is that it becomes easier to keep building forward, allowing women/couples to better access the support and resources that they need.
Nurturing Your Heart
Even so, this week may still be a challenging time that amplifies your hurt and sense of longing for motherhood. It also doesn’t erase the realities and the pain of your struggle that you face on a daily basis.
“Despite the overwhelmingly positive narrative of Mother’s Day that we see in commercials and advertisements, we know that this is a tough day for people experiencing infertility and loss. And it is important to remember that for many, this day is even more emotionally fraught if their own mothers have passed away, if they have conflictual or complicated relationships with their mothers or if they have one or more kids but have also lost pregnancies, infants or children. This day can catch us up in so many layers of sadness, anger, jealousy and profound grief.”~ Dara Roth Edney
So, I’ll offer this gentle reminder: Remember that you are not alone. You are entitled to your feelings, be kind to yourself and give yourself permission to do things that nurture your wellbeing. If you feel the need to, then by all means, disconnect from social media and all the Mother’s Day messaging and take some time to do things that you enjoy. It is okay to set boundaries to protect your emotional health.
“Keep those rivers of self-compassion and love flowing over you, with an abundance of patience and kindness.”~ Shannon, Mothering Your Heart
Three years ago, shortly after my ectopic pregnancy loss I came across a wonderful email series called Mothering Your Heart (https://www.motheringyourheart.com) This email series was created as a support resource for women after pregnancy loss. Around Mother’s Day they sent out a series of soul soothing emails. These daily messages were beautiful anchors for grace and came with a workbook of journaling prompts. One of these writing prompts was about ascertaining the best way for you to access calm on Mother’s Day. They asked several questions along the following lines:
• What is the most soothing place I could physically be today?
• What is the most calming event I might include in my day?, and
• What is the most comforting music that I’d like to listen to today?
Just having these simple thinking points to guide me forward brought some ease to something that could have been much more emotionally challenging. The contemplations felt so healing to me. It gave me something different to focus on, allowing me to spend my weekend taking care of my own needs.
“…be proactive about taking care of yourself. Take the time leading up to Mother’s Day to try and anticipate what will make the day or weekend harder, and then take steps to protect yourself.”~ Dara Roth Edney
I’d thus like to encourage you to contemplate what your needs are right now and then investigate how you can nurture them this week.
What is your heart calling for most at this time?
How can you hold yourself in self-compassion?
Don’t be afraid to give yourself these things. Set self-nurturing boundaries in order to prioritize your own needs if necessary. Set aside self-judgement and meet yourself with acceptance and compassion. Nurture yourself and your heart lovingly.
I’ll end off by sharing a verse from a moving affirmation that I stumbled upon last year, as it really touched my heart. It is called ‘Mothering Heart’ by Carly Marie, and reads as follows:
“While I may not have any children here to raise on Earth, I became a mother the moment I opened my heart to the idea of bringing a child into this world. My mothering love has grown and blossomed since that day.”