Nurturing Your Heart on Mother’s Day 


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 ( 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.”

Fertility and Setting Boundaries During the Holiday Period

As the year starts to wind down, the festivities of the holiday season take hold. This period is full of excitement and beautiful things to celebrate. Yet, it can be a stressful and sad time too. Although you experience the longing for motherhood throughout the year, something about the holiday period can intensify that longing and the sadness around it. For many people, December means lots of demands on your energy, all kinds of family dynamics and social events to navigate and the pressure of either hosting or attending various engagements. Dealing with subfertility adds another layer of stress to the mix, even more so if you are grieving a loss or happen to be going through a cycle of fertility treatment and your hormones are all over the place at the time.

It’s natural to feel extra triggered during a time when everything seems centred around children and celebrating the gift of family, especially when you are made acutely aware of what’s missing in your life and just how much you want kids of your own. And of course, many family and social gatherings make the prospect of being surrounded by lively kids, pregnant family members or friends and getting loads of intrusive questions about why you don’t have any kids or comments about your advancing age and the ever-present biological clock that is just ticking away inevitable. You’re bound to be faced with a whole host of unsolicited advice about what you should be doing to get pregnant or why you should be considering adoption. This sort of thing tends to make you feel judged and unsupported in something that is extremely personal to you. Most people are kind and well meaning, but not everyone will be sensitive to your emotional state or how their words and actions affect you. It is important to take care of your own wellbeing, something that may very well mean examining how you can set boundaries and manage your energy in a way that nurtures you.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve felt the need to simply my life around the holiday period. So, I’ve made it my priority to protect my space and keep things as stress free as possible. Instead of big family gatherings and social activities that often can feel busy, chaotic and stressful, my husband and I have taken to keeping things simple by doing small gatherings with just immediate family. It’s been a significant change for the ‘people-pleaser’ in me who in the past spent a lot of time trying to find the perfect gifts, making amazing dinner spreads and taking on a lot of work to make everyone else happy – things that left me drained and depleted. It’s been a relief to give ourselves breathing space and to just move through life at a calmer pace knowing that in doing so we are supporting our fertility as well.

If you’ve been pondering how best to navigate the holiday season in the context of your fertility journey, then take some time to think about how you can make this period of the year a little easier for yourself. Here are a few guiding points to explore as you do:

Set Boundaries around Social and Family Engagements

Try not to overextend yourself. Do an inventory of all your invitations to holiday social events and family gatherings. Which of those feel like fun engagements to look forward to? And which of them are you dreading? Knowing what to anticipate will inform your decisions around how you manage your social engagements, time and energy. You don’t have to say yes to every invitation. You may feel the need to decline certain ones when things feel too overwhelming. Allow yourself to take time out for you without feeling pressured to do what you don’t feel up to.

Ask yourself: How can I set firm and healthy boundaries in order to minimize holiday stress and foster a supportive environment that nourishes me and my fertility?

Make the most of the festive celebrations you’re looking forward to. And in cases where you can’t avoid certain events, then prepare for inevitable situations and work on reframing your thinking about them. Decide how much you are willing to discuss about your fertility experiences when probing or somewhat insensitive questions or unsolicited advice arise. Maybe you want to prepare a standard answer or simply let people know that you’d appreciate them respecting your privacy to reinforce boundaries if it’s something that you prefer to keep discrete.

Healthy boundaries empower you to protect your right to your own space. Shield yourself from harsh attitudes or judgement. You don’t owe anyone explanations or details about things that are personal to you.

Manage Demands on Your Time and Energy

If there are any draining or time-consuming activities that you could do without for the meantime because they don’t add much value to your life right now, activities that you are willing to let go of in order to create more space for you, then do so. A simple step like drawing up an “Absolute-No List” of things to take off your plate could be a great supportive tool to help you eliminate whatever diminishes you inner joy and peace of mind. Again, consider what would make your life easier at the moment. Shop online to avoid busy malls, plan a simple stress-free menu and mute your social media for the holiday period if necessary, especially if you feel affected by the loads of pregnancy announcements or baby pictures that seem to peak around this time. Free up your time for activities that make you happy and for people who lift your spirit.

Consider a Holiday Getaway: Perhaps you may even decide to skip all the holiday activities altogether and go away on vacation just the two of you instead. A change of scene is always wonderful for the soul. It may also give you and your partner the opportunity to relax and reconnect with one another. Facing fertility challenges leads to various levels of stress and emotional turmoil that is likely to put strain on your relationship as well. This makes it important to create a supportive environment in which your love and marriage can continue to thrive despite the testing time you may be living through together.

Create Your Own Traditions

This is one of the beautiful ideas that my husband introduced a couple of years ago. He has always stressed that we are our own family whether we have children or not. So when we set the intention to disconnect and create space for ourselves, we made a point of starting our own nourishing traditions that we hope to eventually share with our future children.

Are there any holiday traditions that you’ve dreamed of doing with a little family of your own?

Then why not start creating meaningful holiday traditions with your partner in the meantime. Discuss what kinds of family traditions are important to the both of you. What would you like to introduce your future child to? Then decide on how you can begin incorporating them into your life together this holiday. This will help you lay a beautiful foundation for togetherness and family, something that your children will fit into perfectly when they arrive.

[First published on’s Slow Swimmers and Fried Eggs blog November 2019]

Fertility Mala: How to use Prayer Beads as a Tool for Meditation + Mindfulness

Nothing has called me to lean into my mindfulness and soul therapy practices more than my fertility journey has. I am reminded frequently why creating space to center myself when life is chaotic is so necessary for my wellbeing. One tool that has been helpful in doing so is a mala or set of prayer beads. Prayer beads have been used for centuries in various cultures and different religions – the rosary in Catholicism, the mala in Buddhism and Hinduism, the komboloi (worry beads) used by the ancient Greeks, to name a few. When you scratch beneath the surface, it is interesting to discover that the word ‘bead’ in its original form actually means ‘prayer’. It is derived from the old English and Germanic words ‘bede’/ ‘gebede’ / ‘bid’, which mean to ‘bid one’s prayers’ or ‘to pray’. So, it seems that for thousands of years something as simple as a string of beads was intended to be used as a tool for sacred conversations, mindfulness, to calm anxiety and anchor one in the present moment.

Concentrated woman praying with wooden rosary mala beads. Close up, focus on incense stick. Retro vintage filter.

Discovering Prayer Beads

My first introduction to prayer beads was from my grandmother. I grew up watching her devotion to her daily spiritual practice. Each morning upon waking and each evening before bed, she carved out time for her prayers and meditation. As a kid, I was fascinated by her use of prayer beads as a means to mindfully hold her focus on whatever it was that she was meditating about. There seemed to be something deeply sacred in bearing witness to her state of communion with Spirit, gently rubbing each prayer bead between her fingers as she quietly whispered her holy bidding to Mother Mary, often contemplating the divine nature of the feminine experience – the joys and sufferings of both womanhood and motherhood.

In my teens, the beautiful nun who gave me religious instruction classes once a week gifted me my own set of prayer beads. It was a rosary from Fatima, made up of pale green beads that glowed in the dark at night. It always made me feel safe. When I was overcome with fear or anxiety at night, I’d hold it in my hand, still my thoughts and bring my attention to the vibration of love, joy and the feeling of being protected by my guardian angels. It restored my sense of security and put me at ease. To this day, I still keep that rosary at my bedside together with my mala beads. Although my growth and spiritual development has allowed me to explore various paths to presence and inner peace over the years, this is one practice that continues to play a positive and healing role in maintaining my peace of mind.

Creating My Fertility Mala

I recently had a rose quartz and moonstone mala custom-made specifically for my fertility mindfulness practice. I’ve had wonderful experiences using crystals for my meditation and healing journey. I’ve heard so many positive stories about the use of fertility crystals, and have personally felt the benefit of working with them to balance my energy or using them as intention stones. So the idea of using fertility crystals in my mala really resonated with me. I’ve quickly fallen in love with my fertility mala. It came in a beautiful pink satin pouch that I’ve filled with dried rose petals from my garden and scented with two drops of rose essential oil.


It always feels deeply soothing to hold a string of mala beads between my fingers or to wear it around my neck, harnessing in the energy of the crystals. When I rub the individual beads softly, I focus my attention on my breathing – inhaling, exhaling and allowing myself to quietly release the cluttered thoughts that crowd my mind – the constant worries about supplements, bloodwork results, OPKS and never ending appointments. With every breath I take, I sense myself relaxing more completely and becoming more grounded in calm. I close my eyes and whisper gratitude prayers, mindfulness mantras or fertility affirmations into the ethers in the same way that my grandmother does. The doubt and the fear start to dissipate when I do. I find myself leaning inward, enveloped in the warm comforting essence of stillness and somehow remembering how to trust in myself, how to trust my body and my journey in the midst of uncertainty and frustration.

Woman, lit hand close up, counts Malas, strands of gemstones beads used for keeping count during mantra meditations on pink background

How to Use a Fertility Mala

Remember that you can work with different visualizations, mantras and meditations depending on what you need most at the time. You may choose to keep it simple and just focus on being present with the rhythm of your breath. Or you can practice calming meditations for deep relaxation, meditate on the different phases of your menstrual cycle or focus on specific fertility affirmations. The following is a basic mala meditation guideline:

  • Find a quiet place to sit down comfortably and become centered, calm and present.
  • Hold the mala in your hand and drape it between your middle and index finger.
  • Place your thumb on the first bead, bearing in mind that you will use your thumb to count the beads when work your way along the string.
  • Take a deep breath in, focus on inhaling hope and positivity. (you can use your thumb to gently rub the bead as you do if you like)
  • As you exhale, visualize releasing doubt and fear from your body and your mind.
  • Move your thumb to the next bead on the string and repeat the visualization as you do: Inhale hope and positive energy, exhale doubt, stress and fear.
  • Then move on to the next bead, allowing yourself to relax, surrender as you continue focusing on the rhythm of your breath and visualization.

Incorporating fertility affirmations:

Place your thumb on the first bead. Take a moment to meditate on what it will feel like when you are pregnant or are holding your baby in your arms. Draw this wonderful feeling into your mala meditation.

Inhale and focus on the affirmation: “I am fertile.” Exhale, saying: “I trust in the creative power of my body and my womb.”

Move your thumb to the next bead. Rubbing it softly, inhale saying: “I am fertile.” Exhale with the affirmation: “Each step forward takes me closer to my beautiful, happy and healthy baby.”

Visualize the experience of a healthy full-term pregnancy and the motherhood drawing closer and closer to you with every breath as you work your way along the string of mala beads.