Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Happy UnMother's Day

Mother's Day is a very bittersweet day more me. I love celebrating my mom and all the wonderful things she does for me. However, my heart also breaks with desire on that day to be a mother. Mother's Day isn't easy for those coping with infertility, but now, we have a day of our own - National Infertility Survival Day! National Infertility Survival Day is a relatively new holiday, invented to celebrate all the hard work and effort that infertile couples put towards trying to have a child. The day’s main emphasis is on self-care and celebration for what we do have. It’s also a day for friends and family to help lift the spirits of a loved one coping with infertility.
Just like Mother’s Day, when all the hard work that goes into motherhood is celebrated, on National Infertility Survival Day, we celebrate and honor couples who are desperately trying to become parents.The holiday was founded in 2004 by author Beverly Barna. Barna describes the holiday like this:
“I hope National Infertility Survival Day will lift their spirits and give them the impetus to celebrate themselves and that which they do have. This is not to negate the very real despair they may be facing. Rather, it’s an opportune time to stop and smell theChanel, and also to blunt the emotional pummeling that can occur leading up to, on and around Mother’s Day. And it’s also a vehicle through which those close to them can provide meaningful, creative, and fun support."
National Infertility Survival Day is the first Sunday in the month of May.  Scheduled for the weekend before Mother’s Day, the holiday's timing is intentional, so it can blunt the sadness and frustration that many women feel as Mother’s Day approaches. As lovely as Mother’s Day can be for mothers, it can be extremely painful and disheartening for infertile women.One can feel terribly left out and ripped off. For me, it tended to be a time when all the disappointment about my situation coalesced around this one day.The holiday is also a chance to turn around and bring something positive to what is normally a difficult condition. Often, we focus our energies and thoughts on what we don’t get, or have not received, despite all our efforts. On this day, we honor and celebrate all we have done to try to have a child.
Instead of focusing on our losses, we focus on our strengths.National Infertility Survival Day isn’t only for the women and couples coping with infertility now, but also a day for those who have gone forward in their lives.
Barna explains, “I hope the holiday encourages [those who are not currently dealing with infertility] to embrace the knowledge -– even wisdom -– they gained in that struggle, and to find ways to support those who are still coping with the ordeal on a day-to-day, month-to-month basis, and who don’t know how it will turn out for them."
This is a day just for you, and you should celebrate the day however you like!
A few possible ideas:
  • Go out to dinner.
  • See a movie or a play.
  • Buy yourself flowers.
  • Get together with friends, either at home or out of town.
  • Pamper yourself by visiting a spa, or getting a massage.
  • Take the day for some creativity -– messy art, corny poetry, whatever you like!
Some women may feel silly celebrating when they feel they have nothing to celebrate. Our society puts so much emphasis on celebrating after we’ve accomplished a goal. It’s not uncommon for women coping with infertility to feel like failures. But you are not a failure.
With infertility, your accomplishment is the effort you’ve already put towards becoming a parent. You’re celebrating your strength and your efforts. You may not be able to hold these types of accomplishments in your hand, but they are just as real and deserve to be celebrated. For partners, this is a day for a special gift. Something to brighten her spirits. “Chocolates –- unless she’s on a diet, in which case, jewelry is always good,” suggests Barna. “Perfume! Cards! Candlelight dinner! Wine! Champagne! A poem! A trip!”
For family and friends, assuming the couple has let you in on this private area of their lives, anything to lift the couple’s spirits is great. Bring over some balloons, or send a funny or uplifting e-card. Sometimes just a phone call letting them know you’re there, if they ever want to talk, is nice.
Whatever you might consider doing for their birthday, those kinds of ideas probably fit for National Infertility Survival Day celebration, too.
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