Dear pastor,

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. It is a beautiful day full of celebration, flowers, and fun stories about moms. I’m sure your sermon is full of ways in which we celebrate and love our mothers.

But I what I need you to know and to be aware of is this: for some of us, Mother’s Day is the worst.

Tomorrow morning you can probably expect to see a lot of families in your pews. You’ll see children clinging to their mom’s, their faces swelling with joy and love. You’ll see dads either proud of themselves for remembering or really stressed because they totally messed it up. You’ll see moms, tired eyed and smiling as they are surrounded by their children who are fed, washed, combed, dressed, and on time for church. Mom did what she normally did on a given morning, but today is special somehow. And that is awesome.

What you won’t see is the pain of the women in your congregation. And I’m here to tell you, there is a LOT of pain.

When I was growing up in my local Methodist church in Arlington, TX, a favorite Mother’s Day tradition was to have all of the moms stand up and be recognized. Ushers would scurry through the packed sanctuary to hand a carnation to everyone who was standing up. I remember looking up at my mom, so full of love, and remembering how I wanted to be that woman standing proud and receiving her gift from the church for bringing children into the world. I wanted my church to one day recognize my contribution and my devotion to God through child birth. The bible tells us, after all, that being able to have children is a woman’s greatest blessing. Not being able to do so is a punishment.

But pastor, this year, like all the other years, I will not get a carnation. No one will tell me “Happy Mother’s Day!” I won’t get cards. I won’t take family pictures. I wouldn’t be going to church at all if my husband hadn’t volunteered us to do something in worship. Because for me, it’s just too damn painful to be reminded that I am barren.

For women, like me, who battle infertility every single moment of every single day, Mother’s Day is impossibly hard. Every year I think to myself “next year will be my first mother’s day.” Every year for the last 3 years this has been my mother’s day mantra. But for me, I know that next year probably won’t be my year. I probably won’t have a baby in my arms because I can’t afford the treatments required for my failing reproductive system to produce a child. I can’t afford to bring a baby into my home through adoption either. I have no idea when it will be my turn to celebrate mother’s day if it ever will be. And that is the deepest pain I have ever known.

For women who have lost children to miscarriage, tomorrow will be a horrible reminder that they once held life inside them but never got to know that life in the world. It will bring up painful memories of loss, despair, and grief. They may have only known their baby’s heart beat, but pastor, it was there and it was theirs for a flicker of a moment. They were mothers. And now they are not.

For women who have lost a child after birth, tomorrow will be a day of memories. A day where these women miss their children that they loved and will always love. No one should have to bury their own children. It is a burden they bear daily.

So pastor, as you approach your pulpit tomorrow, celebrate the mother’s in the congregation, but also remember to care for the women who are not mothers even though they long to be. Care for the women in your congregation who long to see their baby’s face and hear their laugh. Pray for the women and men who may never get to hold their child or wake up for midnight feedings or change a giant disgusting blowout. Because we want those things more than you can ever know. We want the morning sickness. We want the calls to the pediatrician at 2 am. We want to set up a nursery and watch our child graduate from high school.

We need you to remember us tomorrow. We need you to acknowledge our pain and our grief. We need to hear you say that we are women that God cares for us and loves with reckless abandon and that our suffering is God’s suffering.  We need you to hear the quiet suffering of our hearts and love us through the pain.

Thanks and good luck tomorrow.

Katie Coleman
“unexplained infertility”
trying to conceive for 806 days