The Mother’s Day Impostor
You have many bad days when you’re an infertile woman. But Mother’s Day has to take the cake for being the ‘mother lode’ of bad days for the fertility challenged.
When I was going through my own journey, I remember that ‘weird’ feeling I got as soon as the cards appeared on the Hallmark aisle of my drug store. There were Mother’s Day cards for new mothers, for old mothers, for mothers-to-be. There was every type of card, except a card for me: an infertile ‘wanna-be-so-badly-a-mom’ mother.
That’s one example of what Mother’s Day can be like for an infertile woman. You feel even more alone and out of the mainstream than you usually do. That loneliness is only surpassed when you see all the photos of the happy celebrations of mothers and their children showing up on your Facebook newsfeed. You are left wondering if you will ever have the opportunity to share similar snapshots or receive precious homemade Mother’s Day gifts declaring you to be the ‘World’s Greatest Mom.”
You question whether you are an impostor masquerading as a woman because you can’t do what comes so easily and naturally to other females. You wonder if this simple act of becoming a mother will always be out of your reach? Will you “end up” one of the ‘Childfree” people?
Fast forward 19 years and I am the mother of twins who are ready to leave the nest for college. It is almost impossible to describe the ecstasy I experienced when I gave birth to two perfect children, a boy and a girl, and now that part of the motherhood journey is about to segue into something different, but every day I have the privilege of helping women become mothers through egg donation. I want them to know that the joy of motherhood is priceless (and pricey!) no matter how that baby came to be.
It’s pretty normal for the woman who chooses egg donation to wonder if she will always feel like an impostor – not just on Mother’s Day — but every day. Will someone ask who is the real mother? . Will she bond with her baby? Will she always see the egg donor in her child’s face? Will her child want to meet the egg donor and, perhaps, prefer her?
All these questions are ones I often hear as women contemplate whether egg donation is right for them. The bottom line for most women is whether they will really feel like the mother of the child they will carry. No one wants to feel like an impostor and having a second-best motherhood– especially after experiencing the emotional roller coaster of infertility, and particularly, with their own child.
Here are few suggestions to ease their fears:
Reinvent your definition of motherhood and how women become mothers. The reality is that the baby you give birth to will be your child. He would never have come to be without your decision to create a child by using an egg donor. You and your partner will have control over what happens during pregnancy and childbirth, in his infancy and childhood, and what the child knows about the egg donor whose genetics he shares. You will be the nurturer and teacher of your child. You will be his first love.
Stay off social media – at least for a few days or a week. Before Facebook and Instagram, an infertile woman probably grieved as much on Mother’s Day as you do today. But now your heartbreak can be multiplied and compounded hundreds of times over as you witness everyone’s joy but your own. Just looking at the smiling tributes to Motherhood can make me re-live how I felt when it seemed the impossible dream. I still have to stay away for a few days.
Focus on something or someone else. Cope by celebrating your own mother or anyone who cares and is compassionate about children. After all, even the founder of Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis, who created it as a memorial to her mom, grew to dislike the commercialization of the holiday. If she could ‘reject’ Mother’s Day, so can you.
Remember, it will end soon. So today you might feel like an impostor as you walk down the rows filled with greeting cards, but that doesn’t mean you will feel like one forever. The Hallmark version of Mother’s Day is only celebrated once a year, but if you find a path to parenthood, your child will celebrate the good, the bad and the beautiful of motherhood with you every day.
After living my dream of motherhood for almost 19 years, I have come to find the spectacle of Mother’s Day my favorite made up holiday. I relish the gifts, the outrageous brunch, the corny homemade card, every single second! I know because I spent 6 Mother’s Day’s wondering when it would be my turn and now it is.
Tags: Mothers Day