Center for Assisted Reproduction

Mother's Day Survival Tips

By CARE Fertility on May 10, 2013


Mother's Day is probably the most difficult holiday for women struggling to conceive.  Although Christmas and Thanksgiving also emphasize the joys of family, Mother's Day specifically celebrates motherhood.  When you're desperately trying to achieve that goal and not having any success, the celebration surrounding Mother's Day can be emotionally draining and painful.  Many women find themselves unable to attend family gatherings or religious services because they feel too angry, misunderstood, or fragile to cope with these events.  Whether or not you feel up to any family gatherings or other activities will depend, in part, on where you are in treatment and what your social support network is like.  For example, if you have just had a negative pregnancy test after your second IVF cycle, you may be too emotionally fragile to attend a family dinner where several siblings and their children will be.  On the other hand, if you are in the middle of a treatment cycle and you're feeling excited and hopeful, being around your nephews and nieces may serve to remind you in a good way about all of the reasons why you are working so hard to become a parent.  Likewise, if your sister or other family members have been your "rock" throughout treatment, being with them on Mother's Day will be a source of comfort to you.  There is no "right way" to deal with Mother's Day.  You have to do what feels right for you at this particular moment.  With the latter in mind, here are some general coping tips for surviving Mother's Day:
  • If you decide that you are not emotionally up to dealing with a church service or family celebration, focus your attention on how you will spend the day.  Make a plan.
  • If you judge that you have enough mental energy to "weather" hearing again about your sister's accidental pregnancy with her third child, then give yourself permission to bow out early if things become too intense.  You might even plant the seed by saying something like, "I really did not sleep well last night so we may be leaving early."  Anybody who knows what you're going through will give you big kudos for showing up at all and will understand when you've reached your limit.
  • If you have a good relationship with your own mother, shift the focus of the day to being about her and what a great mother she is.  Acknowledge that part of your intense desire to become a mother is due to her wonderful parenting. 
  • Practice your mothering skills by pampering yourself on Mother's Day.  Infertility is a stressful journey and you need to actively replenish all of the physical and mental energy you are putting toward this important pursuit.  Book a massage.  Turn off the television, close your lap top, turn off your cell phone and spend the day doing what brings you joy.  Read a book. Take a long, uninterrupted bubble bath.  Go to the movies and eat a bucket of buttered popcorn.  Nurture yourself.  By doing so, you will honor your struggle.
  • Give yourself permission to feel sad.  You have a right to feel that it is unfair that motherhood comes so easily to some, but has been so hard for you.  Ignoring or bottling up your emotions will only backfire. 
  • Remember, National Infertility Survival Day is celebrated on the first Sunday of the month each May -- May 5 in 2013.  The day is intentionally scheduled for the weekend before Mother's Day so it can serve to blunt the sadness and frustration that many women feel as Mother's Day approaches.  Go to for more information.


Mother's Day Survival Tips
By Patricia McBride-Houtz, Ph.D.
CARE Psychologist

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