Grappling with Mother’s Day if You’ll Never Be a Mom

by | May 10, 2019 | Research, Uncategorized | 25 comments

How to handle mother's day if you'll never be a mom yourself
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Most times, I post a piece celebrating moms the Friday before Mother’s Day.

But there are many women on this blog and in our communities who struggle with infertility, miscarriages, or infant loss.

If that’s your story, today I wanted to dedicate this space to you. You are seen, you are loved.

I have a guest post from Amy Frazier, a Christian musician, sharing her story with us today. This is moving, and she has some great words of wisdom for us.

Here’s Amy:


“We are getting a pregnancy test and I am driving us to Wal-Mart right now!” yelled my sister.

We had a huge fight, and this wasn’t like me. She took me to the aisle and raced home so I could take it.

Just as my sister thought, it proved to be positive. This wasn’t the first time I’ve seen the plus signs. To be honest, I was scared to death that I was pregnant again. I already had three miscarriages and going through another one would be an impossibility for me.

On this particular day I was visiting my family in Oklahoma.

My husband and I were living in Alaska at the time, and because flights were so expensive, he stayed behind so I could enjoy a family getaway. After my test, I called Jared immediately. I could hear his excitement over the phone but also concern due to all the battles we’ve faced before.

I remember feeling really scared to do anything after that. I watched everything I put in my body, didn’t really exercise and every trip to the toilet was carefully monitored. I was living on the edge so to speak, praying and trying to stay relaxed.

It didn’t take long, a matter of two days, when I started spotting then going into light bleeding. I tried my best to stop the process by going immediately to my doctor, who also happened to be my sister’s doctor.

The crazy thing about this entire process was that everything I went through on my first miscarriage, I was going through on my fourth. And when I say “went through” I mean everything down to the last details, it was like reliving the entire situation over again.

As I was wheeling into surgery for my DNC, all I remember was crying under anesthesia wondering why I had to go through this again. My heart was so overwhelmed and my dreams of having children died that day. Not because I didn’t think God could give me children, but because after my fourth experience of loss, I just emotionally couldn’t take it again.

The memory of those losses relive itself every Mother’s Day.

Especially when a church or organization decides to give a gift or a rose to all mothers who enter the building. What a sad day for the barren women. I wish some of our evangelical leaders would get a clue to how hurtful it is for women like me. Not only that, but at many women’s conferences and events, where they always talk about families and “how to raise a godly child.” Again, it feels like another stab in the back and those of us who don’t have children are wondering why we came.

Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t think our leaders are purposefully trying to outcast us.  I believe their hearts are in the right place, just hoping they can understand that not every woman is on the same journey.

It’s the elephant in the room. We don’t talk about miscarriages or losses because it’s uncomfortable. Well, I’m writing this to say to all women, please talk about it. Be uncomfortable for a few minutes because when you open your heart and become vulnerable, God shows His power in amazing ways through the love and support of other sisters in Christ.

There are many ways to confront these issues and build relationships with those who are hurting with loss around you, but I’m going to break it down to four.

1. Create classes or workshops that freely talk about the emotional pain of miscarriages at your next women’s conference.

I promise you more women have suffered through this than we know, even women who have children.

2. Never change the topic or have an awkward silence moment when a woman tells you about her past hurts and losses.

Actually, listen to her and even pray for her right at that moment. Let her know that what she went through is important to you and God.

3. Don’t ask about adoption.

Not everyone is called to adopt, but if God burdens their heart to do so, I’m sure they will.

4. Don’t jump to sharing your pregnancy success story.

Don’t tell them your struggles and then how successful you were when you tried this procedure or when your doctor found this issue that allowed you to get pregnant…etc, etc. Don’t offer any advice.

God loves us all with a deep and longing love that I really can’t put into words. It goes beyond any human understanding. God freed me from the deep hurt of all the losses I’ve had and there is a peace with great contentment that He gave Jared and I about not having our own children. God is always good to us and knows much more than we do.

How to feel about mother's day if you won't be a mom yourself and how the church can better support women struggling with infertility

I remember crying out to God after my first miscarriage asking Him why…why did this happen to my child. His response was, “That’s my child.” All I remember saying back to God was, “Yes Lord, You’re right!”

I meant every word of that too. The children that God could have allowed me to parent, has and always will be His and I can’t think of a better place for them to be, than in my Saviors arms.

As always, I’m learning right there with you,

Amy Frazier is a traveling worship leader, singer/songwriter and blogger out of Oklahoma City. Amy has a passion to write for the church about real life experiences so others can relate as well as see God’s mighty hand in their circumstances, with a little added humor. For more information about Amy, check out her website.
Join her Facebook page for updates throughout the year @ Amy Frazier Music. You can also find her on Twitter at @amyfraziermusic

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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25 Comments

  1. Andrea

    I’ve had Christian friends and I’ve had secular friends who have struggled with infertility; Christian women have it worse. It’s not just the once-a-year Mother’s Day service in church, but a much larger picture that needs to be examined, like the idea only recently floated in Christian circles that a woman’s primary calling is not to be a mother, but to follow Christ. (How has it taken us 2,000 years since Jesus’ ministry on earth to realize this?!)

    My sister is a pastor’s wife and knows many more Christian women struggling with infertility than I do. In comparing stories one evening we got to wondering if growing up hearing all of the Old Testament tales about women being punished by infertility doesn’t make it psychologically harder, even if you don’t actually believe that God is punishing you or that OT theology is even valid after Jesus. I mean, you hear these stories from when you are a little girl, they’re in your Children’s Bible. We also talked about David’ wife Michal being punished with infertility for being embarrassed about him dancing naked (or in a way that exposed him — the translators debate this) in the streets. My sister’s hilarious reaction was, “I would kill my husband if he danced naked in the streets of our town!” And the thing is, if you read the actual Bible verses in 2. Samuel, Michal was upset because he was doing this in full view of the slave girls, she wasn’t mocking his abandon in praising God (again, my hilarious sister: “If THAT’S his way of praising God…”) The moral of the story, as always, is Jesus – Jesus above Kind David and Jesus above motherhood. But I was curious if anyone else has had these thoughts on Christian women dealing with infertility in light of Old Testament stories.

    Reply
    • EM

      Yeah, I think the OT can make it more difficult in a way. I would look at the stories of Sarah or Hannah, and how they were faithful and God blessed them with a baby. It’s really hard not to feel like you are doing something wrong or are being punished if God’s answer for you isn’t “yes.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember any stories in the Bible of a faithful, Godly woman who never had a child when she prayed for one. And obviously that isn’t always the case for us.

      I totally agree about David & Michal though! Whenever I read that I have a hard time not sympathizing with her. I think I’d be mad too!

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s really interesting, Andrea. It certainly does taint our experience of infertility, I think, when the Old Testament so often talks about it as a punishment. And yet Rachel was not being punished for anything, nor Hannah, nor Elizabeth, nor Sarah. Somehow God just used their stories to further His kingdom. But that’s very hard when you’re in the middle of it to see. I guess when I lost my son, one of the things I felt was, “now I feel much closer to other women in the world; like we have gone through something that only women can feel, and that transcends history and time and place.” I hope that’s what people can feel when they read the Old Testament–that this is an experience that women have had through all generations, and they are not alone.

      Reply
      • Joanna Sawatsky

        I just want to add a slightly different perspective here. I was diagnosed with poly cystic ovaries and possible PCOS in late 2015. I realized that I was really likely to be an infertility patient.

        In the first weeks of my infertility journey, I found myself thinking a lot about the barren women of the scriptures and I found myself taking a lot of comfort in their stories. Some, like Rachel, Hannah, and Sarah, we’re blessed with children. Others, like my namesake Joanna, were not. In the midst of all of the stories was God’s faithfulness to each one.

        I found that, for me, my posture had to be trusting that God would make any outcome “okay”, even if it was a childless life, and remembering that Joanna’s life was full and purposeful and abundant despite the fact she likely had no children was a great comfort to me.

        Now, my infertility journey ended after only 18 months and a few cycles of medicine, so my experience was relatively easy. It was nevertheless hard.

        In the midst, I found the stories of women who had gone before me, faithfully walking into the uncertainty of barrenness, to be a great encouragement.

        Reply
        • Joanna Sawatsky

          Just to add – I don’t want to make anyone feel badly for not finding the biblical stories of barren women conceiving helpful or encouraging. Different people are different and I also suspect that my experience may have been different if my infertility had lasted longer. But for me personally, the stories were immensely helpful.

          Reply
          • EM

            No, that is super helpful! I’m going to read Joanna’s story. Thank you!

          • Joanna Sawatsky

            Hi EM,

            Joanna isn’t mentioned much in the scriptures, but scholars have done a really good job fleshing out her story by what we do know. Gospel Women by Richard Bauckham has a long chapter on Joanna that I just loved. Its a little technical in places, so I’d sometimes skip forward, but it’s a fabulous book!

    • R

      I have thought that very same thought many times over the years. It is hard to be an older single woman who still desires to marry and have children. It is baffling to me how so many younger women around me are blessed with both while I wait and wait and wait. It honestly gets harder each year instead of easier because I see my dreams of children slipping away. Why?

      Reply
    • Brievel

      I always agreed with Michal, actually, I’d have about the same reaction. I’ve just finally decided that there must have been more the story – a fight, or something – that didn’t get transcribed, because as I understand it it really doesn’t make much sense.

      Reply
    • Cynthia

      If you don’t mind a Jewish woman weighing in – those stories are powerful, but can be either helpful or hard to hear, depending on the person.

      We traditionally read the story of Hannah on one of our major holidays. My sister-in-law was sitting beside me one year, having gone through a stillbirth a couple of weeks prior. She ran out because it was just too painful for her to read.

      On the other hand, I found that even hearing stories about how they struggled helped, because I knew that I wasn’t the only one who ever dealt with this pain. I read an article called Prayer Babies that mentioned how trouble with having children in the Bible is associated with both pain and prayers coming from that pain, and it seems to give the children an extra boost. I don’t mean that this somehow makes the pain okay, but there seems to be an extra dimension when someone who has been through loss finally gets to be a parent.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Lovely, Cynthia!

        Reply
  2. EM

    Thank you for posting this! The year after my first miscarriage when I was 22 was the most painful year of my life. People who haven’t been through it just don’t understand, and the fear of never becoming a mother was overwhelming. I told my two best friends from high school about it one night, and cried about the upcoming Mother’s Day. They were so sweet and sent me Mother’s Day cards, and I don’t remember what they said but it meant the world to me that they remembered and thought of me. I definitely considered myself a mother, even though my baby wasn’t here. If you know a woman who has suffered a loss, think about sending flowers or a card just to let her know she isn’t forgotten on a terribly difficult day.

    And yes, so many women have gone through this! I LOVE the idea of talking about it at women’s conferences. If you look at my family you’d never guess it, but I’ve suffered 5 losses, the most recent just last month.😓

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, EM, I’m so sorry! I really am. And that is so sweet about your high school friends sending you cards! I’m going to remember that for when I have a friend who goes through that. It is just such a loss. I’ve been there, too–but I also had two healthy babies along with the two I lost. So I know it’s a different kind of pain when you don’t have a baby to hug at all.

      Reply
  3. Heather Nelsen

    Thank you for posting this. I have been struggling with infertility for 7 years…since I got married… I dread mother’s day weekend and I needed to see this article today.

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      I agree! While infertility is constantly on my mind this weekend is the most difficult. Thank you for such a timely article!

      Reply
  4. Kate

    Or those of use who never had mother’s that loved us and people trying to blame her victims rather than coming to terms with the fact that mothers are very much capable of being evil just like they probably have no problem assuming that about fathers. The greatest evil that happened to me was knowing her. I have always said if Satan can come incarnate in a human being, my mother would be it. Children who are victims of mothers are always the least heard. And that’s why they are the worst victims in families because society as a whole often takes the side of the perpetrator (mother).

    Reply
  5. Abby

    Thank you so much for sharing this for Mother’s Day. I had a miscarriage a little over a month ago and it was totally devastating. I’m so thankful that this year I’ve been studying more about God’s character, because knowing who he is gave me peace. He is good – and he never intended for our world to be broken by evil and sin. One day his kingdom will reign with everything in submission to him and all will be righteous and peaceful. That’s what I’ve been clinging to these past couple months.

    To any ladies out there who haven’t been through miscarriage, please just listen and love us. Most of all, acknowledge our grief. It’s so hard to talk about because most people don’t understand and if I were to open up to someone about it, it’s because I really trust them.

    Reply
  6. Wifey

    Miscarriage is especially painful because it’s invisible. I have 3 babies in Heaven. I didn’t go to baby showers, I didn’t go to church on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day for years, it was just too hard. Even now, with the answered prayer in my arms, my heart hurts on Mother’s Day. I mourn the babies I never met, but more than that my heart aches for my dear sister who has lost 10 babies and has no children to comfort her. And for the myriad of women who are similarly suffering in silence. I make sure to mail my friends Mother’s Day cards. They are Mothers, even if you can’t see it with your eyes. Send flowers or a meal after a miscarriage. Why do we deliver meals and gifts after a baby arrives, at every funeral and sometimes weddings, but neglect women who lose a child without even the comfort of memories to remember the child by? Having now been on all sides of this equation, I firmly believe that losing babies in the womb should be talked about, those families should be comforted and the little life safe in the arms of Jesus should be celebrated. Then, those who have walked through these incredibly painful, invisible losses will not feel so forgotten.

    Reply
  7. Jennie

    Thank you Sheila for getting it, and for understanding what women like myself who have been unable to have children go through on Mother’s Day. This year will be the first time in several years I will be in church and that is only because we are in kid’s church this Sunday. Normally I want to be as far away from church as possible because it is just too hard. This post was so on target and I really appreciated it.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m glad, Jennie. And I’m so sorry for what you’re going through!

      Reply
  8. tbg

    My church would have someone at the door and when you walked in to any woman they would try to hand you a flower saying, “we are giving flowers to all the mothers.” To which I would have to reply, “I’m not a mother.” And they would either keep the flower or say, “well you can have one anyway.” How awful is that for me to have to deal with when I go to church for comfort to have to run a gamut and keep telling everyone that although my heart aches to be a mother, I am not!

    Or people who don’t know you, so this is not someone making a statement of truth based on knowing you. They say, “well I am sure you act as a mother to many people in your life.” How do they know if I have any kids that I can invest in to act as a mother for?

    I have since been a foster mom for 4 years now. So, it is not hard on me as I have been blessed to mother and love on many children. But, before it was really the worst Sunday of the year for me and I would frequently think about just not going to church that day.

    Reply
    • E

      Someone needs to tell them the wording is inappropriate. Our church would give out the gift (flowers) to all women. Even the girls. No questions asked.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        That’s definitely healthier!

        Reply
  9. Cynthia

    We do need to talk about this more. The internet helps connect people now, but I had my first loss in 1998 and just felt so alone. At the time, I had no idea how common it was, or that the most common cause was chromosomal error – meaning that the cells hadn’t divided properly from the very start and that nothing Inhad or hadn’t done could have changed that. Shame and guilt contributed to the deep grief and depression, and that part of it could have been avoided.

    I was told not to tell other people, but the strain of putting on a happy face was sometimes too much for me. Just knowing that other people understood how I was feeling made me feel a bit better.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, the whole “don’t announce you’re pregnant until you’re 4 months along” I think contributes to this idea that miscarrying is shameful. What I’ve told my daughters is, “tell everyone that you would want to pray for you and that you would want to be there for you if something went wrong”, not just “don’t announce yet.” We need support if something happens, and there’s nothing shameful about it! And, yes, chromosomal problems are the majority of the issues. It really isn’t our fault.

      Reply

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