Warning: This article discusses pregnancy loss, fertility issues, and parent estrangement.
This past Monday was a difficult one for me. Pretty early in the day, I recognized that my depression was hitting a hard downswing, but I wasn’t really surprised. Mother’s Day was a week off, and that had been a rough holiday for me last year given that we were still dealing with secondary infertility and a recent pregnancy loss. This year, we are still processing the recent discovery that I have borderline PCOS and the decision to stop trying to add another kid to our family.
Mother’s Day has been a tricky holiday for me for a while now. I was estranged from my mother at the time of her death during my final year of college. I had no wish to reconcile with her. Our estrangement was due to her toxic and problematic behaviors, and she was the sort of person who refused to own up to those behaviors. It felt weird seeing people put up their social media tributes to their own mothers once a year when I was simply relieved that my mother couldn’t cause any more collateral damage in mine.
After our first son was born, the day sort of got a little rebranded. It was a lower key day for us, but I loved the artwork that came from daycare with A’s little handprints and footprints. When W came along, it just meant more adorable artwork. It was easier to deal with the fact I didn’t have tributes for my mother to share, the holiday simply was different for us. I remember that there was a time that I was particularly excited to see new moms celebrate their first Mother’s Day with pictures of their first born kids.
Then I had a miscarriage after several years of trying to get pregant. Based on the timing of that pregnancy, last May should have found us far along enough to be starting to set up a nursery. We would have found out if our boys were getting a brother or sister and had a name already picked out. I was in a sort of fog and didn’t think twice when I logged into social media that morning, probably to go look up an upcoming launch from a favorite business or something. Instead I got hit with the waves of pictures of new babies mixed in with some pregnancy related posts and announcements. Those kind of posts can be hard to navigate when you’re struggling with fertility issues or a recent pregnancy loss as is, but I was particularly emotionally vulnerable and it was all concentrated into what felt like one emotional sucker punch.
I had a complete breakdown that day. Poor A had been all excited that it was Mother’s Day and wanted me to be happy on Mother’s Day. He had a meltdown of his own when I didn’t have the emotional energy to even attempt to try to put on a happy face, and he couldn’t understand why I couldn’t be happy that day because moms are supposed to be happy on Mother’s Day. (He was unaware of the recent pregnancy lost at that time.) Shortly after that day, we would realize that I was likely suffering from depression related to our recent loss.
This year is the first Mother’s Day since we made the choice to be a family of four after I got my PCOS diagnosis. We are comfortable with the choice we made, but there’s still a mourning process to it that can, at times, be harder than others. Taking our old board books to a local used book store and our car seats to a recycling event did free up space in our house, but there was an emotional finality to it as well. W graduates from Pre-K next week, and as the youngest child, there’s a lot of feelings about how he’s not so little anymore and how there won’t be another little one in our house again. I’ve been dreading sorting out how to deal with Mother’s Day and it’s tricky. Do we use it as a time to honor the family we have, or do we downplay it? After talking with my husband, I told him that this year it might be best to downplay it a bit. I will probably avoid social media for reasons other than just the risk of Game of Thrones spoilers from the east coast fans that get to see it earlier than we do. Other moms are going to rightfully post their pictures or sonograms celebrating their kids, and they should get those moments, I just can’t be an audience member to it this year for my own emotional well-being. Next year I might be able to participate, but I need to use my mom powers to make the call to step back this year.