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You Will Get Through This Too, or How to Get Through Mother’s Day

I was given some advice years ago on something unrelated to infertility that has always stuck with me: don’t look at your life too closely or you’ll see that it all seems impossible.  That budget you constructed based on your needs against your income — impossible.  Getting everything on your to-do list accomplished — impossible.  Surviving the suckhole that is infertility — will not happen.  Or surviving the sleep deprivation of an infant — it will never end.

And yet, you know that it always does because you can think back to dozens of difficult times in your life, times that seemed impossible to endure, and you are no longer enduring them.  You may even be at peace with that time period even though events were suffocating you back then.  By which I mean that now you can breathe as you think about it.

Which means that you will also be able to breathe in the future, even if things seem too overwhelming in the current moment to believe that there will one day be an end point to how you are feeling.

If you don’t believe me, write out all the things you are stressed about in this moment and then tuck this away in a drawer for a year.  Write out a new list at that time and then look at the old list.  How many of the stressors were survived even though they seemed overwhelming a year ago?  I’m aware that a year is a long time to wait for proof.

I think one of the drawbacks of blogs is that we write out the details of our life, and whenever you look at the facts of your life in black-and-white terms (or for those of you with godawful layouts, pink-and-purple terms), listed out on the screen, they have a tendency to either look much larger or much smaller than the size they appear in our head.  This can obviously be a good thing if they shrink and become more manageable as you list things out.  But this can equally be a terrible thing if the facts of your life on screen loom larger than a monster poised to swallow you.

If you are going to keep a blog and you are going to have your words grow teeth and gnash them at you, all monster-like, you will need to take that step back and remember that all difficult moments in life look impossible in black-and-white.  How can a person ever survive a loss?  How can we wake up in the morning knowing that we’ll have to carry that void the whole day; a void that is heavier than even the monster itself?  Even gains can seem impossible to deal with when you write about it on the screen.  How can a person long for something for so long and then feel so suffocated by the weight of responsibility to it once it arrives?

Life is hard; but you will get through it.  And I know this because you’ve gotten to this point, which means that you have gotten through so many other moments you didn’t think you could get through.  Yes, perhaps one day there will be one that will do you in, but let’s hope not and see the fact that you have a past be the proof that you will have a future (and yes, I am aware that my reasoning isn’t very scientific, but life is more magic and art than stone cold fact).

Heading into a weekend that is impossibly difficult for some, blissfully joyous for others, guilt-laden for many, it’s the only message of love I can give you to tuck into your back pocket — a piece of advice that fits neatly into surviving Mother’s Day as much as it fits into surviving everything else:

You will not always be here; you will not always feel as if Mother’s Day is a punch in the stomach, and you will not always be beaming at a newborn, and you will not always feel anxious for wanting breakfast in bed.  You will get through this time if it is your valley, and you will get through that future time if that turns out to be your valley.  And you know this is true because you can look back and see how far you’ve come.

Look back for a second.  I’m serious.  See how far you’ve come.

This post is dedicated to It Is What It Is.  Though I wrote it as much as a reminder for myself as it is for you.

Photo Credit: Horia Varlan from Flickr under a creative commons license.


1 Kaitake { 05.09.12 at 7:58 am }

A beautiful and contemplative post. Thank you sincerely for putting this thought into words.

2 Bea { 05.09.12 at 8:02 am }

“You will not always be here” is a wise thought that has carried me through many moments. sending everyone the will to endure, as they have so far.


3 Courtney { 05.09.12 at 8:11 am }

You’re so right. I had been dreading Mother’s Day for months. Now that it’s almost here, I have realized that there’s no point in being sad about it. This very well could be my last Mother’s Day without children. I’m lucky also in that we’re spending this weekend at the beach with my amazing brother-in-law and his wife who also conquered infertility. I think it takes more effort to be sad.
I love how you mentioned about the stresses that we all have in our lives. I often think there’s no way that my husband and I will be able to pay for treatments and still thrive. I know that we would not have made it this far without God, our faith family, and the prayer and encouragement that they’ve given us along the way. I understand that not everyone is a believer, but I believe that God is the only reason that I’ve made it this far. Nothing is impossible with Him.

4 a { 05.09.12 at 8:40 am }

What a lovely reminder…

5 loribeth { 05.09.12 at 9:26 am }

This is lovely, and oh so true (& I love, love, love the photo). We are much more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly how we’re hanging on, but somehow, we do it.

I remember when dh & I attended our pg loss support group, first as clients & then as facilitators for almost 10 years. We might not think we were coping very well or progressing very much — but then a new couple would walk into the room, fresh in their grief, & we would realize with a shock just how far we really had come.

6 serenity { 05.09.12 at 9:36 am }

Yes. Same as Bea. “You will not always be here” has always been a tremendous comfort to me.

Still is, actually.


7 magpie { 05.09.12 at 10:24 am }

Mother’s Day pisses me off, and it has nothing to do with infertility. My mother died; I don’t have a mother.

Besides, it’s a Hallmark holiday. Grr.

Sorry to be so cranky. 🙂

8 It Is What It Is { 05.09.12 at 10:24 am }

Oh, Mel, it made me teary to read this and then to see your thoughtful dedication.

Mother’s Day, a fabricated holiday intended to celebrate mothers (which I appreciate) can be both sword and wound to so many. It is the knife in the gut for those struggling to become mothers for the first time, it is a painful reminder to many who have lost children too soon, it is an emotional void for those who have lost their own beloved mothers who miss them fiercely on this day. And, it is a complicated quagmire, for mothers like me, who look forward to the earnest way my son will hop into my bed that morning to tell me he loves me and I will scoop him up and tell him how much I love him, too, while simultaneously processing that I am estranged from my own mother in a way that will likely prevent me from acknowledging the day with her and while I will also wonder how my birth mother will feel about this particular mothers day with me having found her after 45 years only months ago.

It is just a day, like any other day, and like any other day, it only has the meaning we ascribe to it. It is a Sunday, and I love Sundays.

9 Mina { 05.09.12 at 10:30 am }

I know that road. drove down that road! The one from the photo, I mean. Wow, this is something I never thought I would write on your blog… This is just like many other things in life I did not image yet they happened.
The present is here and it seems daunting and we don’t know what the future brings and we worry and we struggle and the past comes with us everywhere. Most of the things I wrote about on my blog now seem somehow petty and trivial, how could I be so blinded by things that now hold so little meaning? Yet at the time they were big and scary. Hindsight is always 20/20, isn’t it?

I know it’s a quote from a movie, but my grandma actually tells me everytime I complain about something “this too shall pass and it will be behind you”. I know this, but it does not always make things easier.

10 IrisD { 05.09.12 at 11:06 am }

“You will not always be here”
I’m taking this to mean that I will not always be sad about not having children and avoiding getting sucked into feelings of self-pity triggered by the national celebration of motherhood, on tv, magazines, facebook, and just all around real life. I hope that will be the case. The thing about permanent childlessness, is that it is permanent, and the celebration of motherhood seems pretty permanent, too. So, it just takes a lot of “will power?”, I guess, not to let the latter affect your mood so much. I think Mother’s Day is one of those days, when even women who have for the most part made the mental leap or crossed over from childless to childfree, probably still find it hard and indulge in a bit of self-pity. It might be one of those days that will always feel bad.

11 Mel { 05.09.12 at 11:09 am }

Iris D, I certainly don’t think it means that you won’t always be sad. I mean, a person dies and you don’t reach a day when you all of a sudden say, “I’m fine with this.” But I don’t think people mourn the same way indefinitely, which is very different from saying that people stop mourning things at all.

12 k { 05.09.12 at 12:14 pm }

I know and love quite a few people in this space. Thank you for this. Sharing.

13 Sunny { 05.09.12 at 12:43 pm }

Great post, Mel. I used to remind myself of this when we were doing treatments the first time around. I would say, “In 10 years, this will be over. No matter whether we end up with children or not, in 10 years I will not be undergoing the rollercoaster of treatment.” I know 10 years is a long time, but it was comforting to think that it wouldn’t be FOREVER, as it seemed at the time.

14 Augusta { 05.09.12 at 1:38 pm }

Thank you for this. It is incredibly helpful to stop for a moment, breathe, and remember that I’ve gotten through worse than this already.

The thing that troubles me these days is that getting through is less than living in. As Diane Ackerman said: “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well. ” But that’s hard to do when you feel like you’re just surviving one thing after the other. I’m not asking you to solve this puzzle, I’m just puzzling in your company (and on your blog).

Anywho, have a lovely mother’s day.

15 Life { 05.09.12 at 2:28 pm }

Thank you for this post.
This is my first Mother’s Day which will be filled with sadness. But also filled with love for my 2 living children. I cherish them every moment of every day. Even though their angel brother isn’t with them, he will also be thought of on Sunday.

16 Chickenpig { 05.09.12 at 2:35 pm }

It is always comforting to look forward and know that in a year’s time it will be behind you. But all I can think right now is “How do I get from here to there?” because that is the question.

17 Monica { 05.09.12 at 3:20 pm }

Thank you for this post. I needed it today.

18 Cristy { 05.09.12 at 4:57 pm }

Thank you for this reminder. I remember very well a period when I thought other aspects of my life were impossible. I honestly believed I would never get married (a friend brought this up during a speech at my wedding), nor that I would ever get into graduate school. I also feared I would be doomed to spend my life in the midwest. Years later, things have drastically changed.

The hard part as of late has been remembering that amazing things can happen when we open ourselves up to them. And that some of the most precious and treasured moments/things never arrived quite as expected. And in a way, those have been better than I could have imagined.

19 Corey Feldman { 05.09.12 at 5:26 pm }

I lost my mom a few years ago, they day my second son was born (weird cycle of life). I always want to make it a special day for my wife, but it is hard to to grieve a bit at the same time. Kind of like I feel on Elijah’s birthday, but not as intense.

20 S.I.F. { 05.09.12 at 7:21 pm }

You have no idea how much I needed this today lady… thank you.

21 Peg { 05.09.12 at 10:16 pm }

Thank you. Simply, thank you. You have no idea how I needed this today and going into this weekend. Mother’s day is another reminder of what the girls don’t have. It is certainly a tough day around here and you just reminded me that we’ve already been through so much and we’ll just plow through and make it on the other side okay. Thanks.

22 Maddy { 05.09.12 at 10:41 pm }

Thank you, Mel. Like many who commented before me, I needed to read this right now. This is my first Mother’s Day after losing my Mom. And 10th with infertility. It’s nice to know someone out there knows how hard it will be. And yet that it will – I will – somehow be okay. Best to you.

23 Her Royal Fabulousness { 05.10.12 at 9:45 am }

I love this post and adore you for having the right words. Thank you.

24 geochick { 05.10.12 at 3:30 pm }

Thanks for the reminder. This being my first day actually as a mother, you’d think that I’d be excited. Instead, I’m firmly in the guilt camp. For me to be a mother, another mother had to terminate her parental rights. Hardly warm fuzzies.

25 loribeth { 05.10.12 at 6:48 pm }

NYT Motherlode asks “Whose Mother’s Day is it? — yours or your mother’s?” Adoption is mentioned in both the article & the comments, but not infertility or loss (yet?).


26 Daryl { 05.10.12 at 8:11 pm }

Thank you for this. It feels like we’ve always been where we are now–in limbo–but that has not, nor will it always be the case.

I also have multiple reasons for hating Mother’s Day, one of them being the loss of my mom two years ago, but it’s one day. I’ll survive.

27 Emily @ablanket2keep { 05.10.12 at 9:47 pm }

Thank you for this post.

28 kateanon { 05.12.12 at 12:17 pm }

I look forward to the day when it is no longer a punch in the gut. I just worry that by the time that my own issues are resolved, my mother will be gone, and then it will be painful for another reason.

29 clare { 05.15.12 at 3:47 am }

thanks… lovely and timely as always mel.

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