Zen and the Art of Avoiding Mother’s Day Marketing


Short of locating an atomic bomb shelter to hang out in for the first 10-15 days of May there’s no way to avoid the bombardment of online, TV and prints ads or the point of purchase displays everywhere celebrating that which many of us can’t achieve: motherhood.
This is when I attempt to be zen, or failing that, lose myself in whatever humor I can find. As I occasionally do, I searched online news for the phrase “as a Mom.” I’m never disappointed by the smug or sanctimonious articles that surface. It’s time again for a visit to the parallel universe. In the following article I’ve swapped out “as a Mom” for “as an Infertile” and made a few other contextual edits along the way. I hope it helps take the edge off for those feeling under siege. Just remember: the second Sunday in May — it, too, shall pass.

How to Avoid the Depleted Infertile Syndrome

Driving downtown one day, I happened to notice a bumper sticker that read: “I am Woman. I am invincible. I am tired.” Boy, did I laugh when I saw that!! Haven’t we all been there?! As Infertiles, we live in a perpetual state of busyness. From being consumed 24-7 with whether we will ever get pregnant on-demand and juggling doctor appointments and inject-able hormones, coming up with new ways to avoid baby showers, trying to appear ‘normal’ at work, and the never-ending to-do lists, we are constantly performing superhuman feats of multi-tasking while we take care of trying to conceive. We strive to do the invincible…and yes, we are tired.

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Many Infertiles are led to believe this state of constant busyness and the overwhelmed, exhausted feelings that go along with it are part of the Infertile experience. However, I’ve learned firsthand that over time this busyness and tiredness can turn into something that experts are now calling Depleted Infertile Syndrome (DIS). In DIS, you’re physically and emotionally exhausted, irritable, moody, eating poorly, and you don’t feel like you’re being the Infertile you want or are meant to be. Life falls way out of balance and you’re “running on empty.”

The good news is that “running on empty” does not have to be a way of life – it is preventable and treatable. The solution: invest in you.

Okay, so you’re probably thinking: “Yeah right, like I have money to invest in myself after paying for infertility treatments not covered by health insurance.” You may even be thinking that investing in yourself is a selfish idea. Most of us have been lead to believe that as Infertiles we are supposed to be “self-less” – we’re supposed to have a noble and unselfish concern for the welfare of others. The truth of the matter is that being “self-less” is just that – it is a state of being that is without “self.” I don’t know about you, but that’s certainly not a state of being that I want for myself or to model for my follicles.

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If we want our follicles to be happy and have a strong sense of self-worth, then it is up to us to model that for them. As Infertiles, we need to appreciate and respect our own self-worth and take the time to be what I call self-ful. Being self-ful does not mean self-absorbed. It means that you care enough about yourself to look after your own needs so that you can better look after the needs of those around you – especially those oocytes.

As an Infertile, you are in one of the world’s most demanding and most important jobs. But verging on Depleted Infertile Syndrome while you try to conceive is not going to get that job done successfully.

Here are some ways you can get started on the art of being Self-ful:

  1. Forget being the perfect Infertile. Go for great. If the words perfect, best, or should exist in your vocabulary, get rid of them! Thinking in these terms will not only rob you of precious energy, but will also put tremendous stress and pressure on you and your uterus and ovaries.
  2. Take time to recharge and restore. If you don’t already, begin a habit of taking some much needed time for yourself to refuel your physical and emotional energy. Recharging can be anything from a spa treatment (but beware of strange looks when the attendant sees those needle tracks and bruises on your belly and thighs!) to 10 minutes with a cup of raspberry tea and ripping to shreds a “How I Became a Mom Without Even Trying” story in a celebrity magazine – whatever you need to restore your energy. Just do it!
  3. Maintain hormonal balance. Hormonal imbalances play a huge role in the moodiness, fatigue, irritability and “running on empty” feelings many Infertiles experience. I know you won’t want to hear this one, but yes, nutrition and exercise are the two biggest keys to maintaining hormonal balance! Increasing your lean protein intake, reducing complex carbohydrates and sugar in your diet and taking a multi-vitamin formula designed for women will go a long way in optimizing hormonal balance. (Just kidding about the sugar thing – have that extra piece of chocolate! You’ve been denied alcohol, caffeine and “recreational” sex. There needs to be some pleasure in life, right?)
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You’ll be a better Infertile and a better you!


24 Responses

  1. JuliaKB

    May 4, 2008 12:40 am

    Yeah. I’ve been avoiding the general state of gag-worthiness that abounds. This was a much needed dose of snark.

  2. Lori

    May 4, 2008 12:46 am

    I hate hearing the phrase, “As a mother.” I watch The View and Sherri says this all the time and I keep meaning to write them a letter about this but then push it away as ME being insensitive. Sherri had fertility issues too, you’d think she’d understand what those words mean to those who are infertile. Thanks for your blog, BTW, it’s difficult for me to find infertile blogs and I hate scrolling various infertile blog lists for new blogs because most of the writers are pregnant and I get depressed. I wish someone would do an updated list or keep better track of their lists.

  3. Zee

    May 4, 2008 4:57 pm

    Thanks PJ. I really needed this — what with the Evil Hallmark Holiday From Hell gaining on us, the huge spate of cycling (and the inevitable forthcoming rash of miracle BFPs) going on in the blogosphere, and just having come from a kid-heavy party where I was (as usual) the Only. Adult. Without. Children. UGH.

  4. loribeth

    May 4, 2008 9:56 pm

    Brilliant as usual. : )

    As for “The View,” they know who their audience is… why else is Elisabeth still there??

  5. Bea

    May 5, 2008 10:03 am

    Why is it that these never get old? Thanks for another one – curiously, hits it spot on again!


  6. peesticksandstones

    May 5, 2008 11:34 am

    Is it just me, or is Mothers’ Day turning into like this month-long tribute? I guess that’s happening to most holidays these days, marketing-wise.

    Thanks for reminding me I gotta look out for myself. I’d been on the fence about booking a spa date w/ my friend next week, but now I think I deserve it for sure. Just hope I’m not surrounded by moms cashing in on their Mom Day gift certificates (this has happened to me before… trying to relax in my little robe at the spa, listening to a group of ladies bitch about mom-hood, kids, etc).

  7. shinejil

    May 5, 2008 3:50 pm

    Oh, how will I ever be the Infertile I feel I was meant to be? I know, new shoes!

    Brilliant, Pamela Jeanne, as always.

  8. Carlynn

    May 5, 2008 4:31 pm

    You’re the best, why hasn’t some magazine snapped you up as a columnist? I just loved “You don’t feel like you’re being the Infertile you want or are meant to be”. Oh yes, how that sums it up. I would love to be the cool, calm and partying infertile in a pair of size 4 jeans. Your article somehow gives me permission to be who I am as an infertile and to recognise that I DID want to handle this better, I am not spending the day in a blue funk because I chose to, events have just become too much.

    This is my favourite post of the week, I love it. I want to send it to everyone I know.

    And I am thinking of your triplets.

  9. Calliope

    May 5, 2008 6:35 pm

    This post was brilliant!
    I hate the e-mail ad bombardment and cringe at the commercials on tv. And if one more person with a child tells me that “Everyone can celebrate Mother’s day because everyone has a Mother!” I will loose it.

  10. May

    May 6, 2008 2:44 pm

    Heh heh heh. I am totally a Depleted Infertile at the moment.

    The phrase ‘As a mother’ is the one guaranteed to have me leaping across the room to turn off the radio/ mute the TV/ escape. The urge to reply ‘as not-a-mother, I say boil ’em in oil’ has yet to overwhelm me entirely, but it’s a close thing.

    Here in Blighty we have Mother’s Day in March, so I am safe until Father’s Day in June.

  11. Lydia

    May 7, 2008 9:07 am

    It’s the “As a mom . . . ” that drives me crazy. I have always wanted to say “Oh, BFD!” It’s strange but by the time you reach your mid-50’s, like me, the fury just melts away. Or at least that’s how it has been for me. Your advice for being self-ful is great and I agree with another commenter that you should be writing for some magazine.

  12. Deathstar

    May 10, 2008 2:20 am

    I sure could have used this about a year ago. But it’s brilliant. I didn’t invest in me and I was left gutted and numb. Yes, I got my life back but man, did I take a beating.

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