(Digital Editor's Note: This article appeared first in the May 2023 edition of the print version of The Stand.)
“Mother’s Day for any woman struggling with infertility is brutal,” said Kendra White. “It’s filled with emotional land mines. The fear a lot of women have of going to church on that Sunday is that they will step on one of those land mines and be vulnerable in front of people who don’t understand what is happening.”
As Mother’s Day approaches, American Family Radio co-hosts, White and Anne Cockrell, sat down with The Stand to discuss what this treasured holiday looks like for moms facing infertility and miscarriage.
After personally facing these issues, White and Cockrell understand how hard this day can be for “moms-in-waiting.” They offered insights on ways to honor, encourage, and minister to hurting couples during this season.
The Stand: What did Mother’s Day look like for you amid infertility?
Anne Cockrell: I think it depends on how long you’ve struggled with infertility. My first hard Mother’s Day was before I was diagnosed with infertility, but I knew I wanted a baby. We had already experienced a miscarriage, and attending church was hard. I remember that I went to the bathroom and cried.
Kendra White: I had to emotionally prepare myself for Mother’s Day. We still went to church, and I had some great times worshipping the Lord during that grief. But what shocked me was Father’s Day. I knew how I would feel on Mother’s Day; but I didn’t prepare myself for Father’s Day.
We had a sermon about how great dads are needed; I just lost it. I wanted everyone to know that my husband would be a really good dad if given a chance. It was an emotional land mine, and I had to go and hide upstairs one year.
TS: Did that change how you celebrated this day?
AC: My husband and I didn’t go to church on Mother’s Day for the next few years. We did devotions at home, had breakfast together, and then went on long hikes and walks. He even bought me a tree one year so that we could have something to grow with us. We still made it about the Lord while acknowledging my desire to be a mama.
TS: Can churches minister to moms in this waiting season?
KW: Mother’s Day can be an amazing opportunity for anyone in the body of Christ to encourage those struggling with infertility in a special and powerful way. We recently had a guest on our radio show, and he told us that at his church, their pastor asks anyone struggling with a miscarriage or infertility to stand on Mother’s Day, and then the whole congregation prays for them. Every following year, he says they have at least one child born as a result of that prayer at church.
AC: The Sunday before Mother’s Day is actually a day to honor the moms who have experienced miscarriages or are moms-in-waiting. If you do have a daughter, sister, or friend struggling with infertility around Mother’s Day, know that they’re going to be struggling whether they wear it well on their face or not. It will be a hard weekend for them. I would encourage you to love them a little bit more.
KW: Tell somebody that you’re praying for them. I had specific people that said they would even fast for us. That meant a lot. So when I knew that people were fasting for us to have a child, that was a big deal. Also pointing out in women qualities that you see that would make them a wonderful mom is helpful.
TS: What are some things not to do when ministering to couples facing infertility?
KW: Don’t tell them that if they consider adoption, they might get pregnant. Don’t tell them that it’s a matter of contentment. Just because you struggle with infertility doesn’t mean you’re not content or right with God. It’s not necessarily a judgment on your spiritual status.
AC: Stop asking, “When are you going to have kids?” or offering unsolicited advice.
TS: How did your relationship with the Lord grow during this season?
KW: Looking back at infertility, I now see it was a tool God used, and I don’t know that anything else would have been as effective because my desire for motherhood was so strong. I remember the moment when my husband and I found out about our miscarriage. I sat at our piano and just had to praise the Lord. I didn’t know what the end of the story was going to be, but I didn’t have to carry the burden anymore.
AC: I had to get to the point of total surrender and be able to thank God for infertility. One day, I heard someone say that they were thankful for infertility. And I remember rolling my eyes and thinking I would never be able to do that. But when I did that for myself, a whole load was lifted off of me, and a few months later, I found out I was pregnant.
TS: Is there anything else you would like to add?
KW: No matter how God tells your story, it will be good because He’s the One writing it. You might be in the middle of a dark part, but later you will rejoice because those seasons and storms push you closer to Jesus. I would also encourage anyone reading to remember that so much can happen in a year. Last May, I had just had surgery to remove some polyps in the hopes of being able to have children and was recovering from that. This year, I’m holding my daughter.
AC: I encourage husbands to try and make the day special. But for the mamas-in-waiting, I want them to know it is OK to grieve that day. It is a day worth celebrating our mamas and mamas-to-be, but it’s also important to acknowledge that it’s a very hard day for some.