Mother’s Day is supposed to be a day to honor our moms and everything they do for us. But what if you’re not a mom and are wishing like crazy that you were? What if you’re in the middle of physically and emotionally taxing medical treatments to try to get pregnant? What if you’re fresh from a pregnancy loss? Heidi Lengel, MMT, MT-BC, Philadelphia-based pre and perinatal specialist who focuses in music therapy assisted childbirth, therapeutic perinatal bereavement support, and perinatal mood disorders and owner of Fulheart Family Support, offers her support and wisdom this Mother’s Day.

Struggling with Mother’s Day and infertility is not easy. Whether you are having trouble conceiving, experienced pregnancy loss, or desire more children but cannot conceive, you are not alone. This Mother’s Day, take time to make space for yourself with these 5 steps.

1. Prepare for self care
Sometimes preparing for Mother’s Day is half the battle. Knowing that it could be a difficult day doesn’t mean that the entire day has to be fraught with emotional meltdowns. Make a plan for yourself: what types of activities would feel most meaningful for you and your partner? A hike or bike ride? Coffee in your favorite coffee shop? A few hours of retail therapy? A relaxing bath? Creating time for meaningful spiritual connections? Make a concerted effort to create pockets of self-care throughout the day.

2. Create moments of connection
Who would it feel most meaningful to connect with on Mother’s Day? Your mother, aunt, or grandmother? For some people, not connecting with family members may work best. What about your partner or good friend? A group of people in your community? Don’t let others’ expectations dictate how you spend your time and emotional energy. Reach out to people in your life you value and let them know they are loved.

3. Allow space for grief
You know what? Sometimes Mother’s Day kinda stinks. It’s not easy. And that’s ok. You can acknowledge your loss without being overcome by it. Know that at times, you may be unexpectedly overcome with sadness about this part of your life. If that happens, sit with the grief for a minute. Acknowledge this piece of your journey as valuable, even if it is hard. Think about how you might be able to grow from your infertility experiences and help others who are going through it as well.

4. Honor others in their journey
Sometimes taking the focus off of yourself helps the healing process. On Mother’s Day, consider sending a card or flowers to someone in your life who is not a mother. Maybe you have a friend who is an ‘aunt’ to many around her but is also childless. Maybe there’s a friend whose motherhood skills you admire (or who just needs encouragement!). Maybe you know a mother currently struggling with fertility issues. Maybe you know someone who has just experienced a pregnancy loss and needs someone to encourage her in the silence of a childless Mother’s Day. Whoever it may be, you’d be surprised by how much your support will mean to them.

5. Look ahead
Whether or not you know the end to this part of your story, there is a future. Look forward to the next few weeks and months of your life. What are your goals? Dreams? Hopes? Take some time to talk with your partner about ways you can take small, measurable steps towards making some of those things happen. With or without children, you have amazing purpose in this life.

Heidi Lengel, MMT, MT-BC, owner of Fulheart Family Support, is a pre and perinatal specialist who focuses in music therapy assisted childbirth, therapeutic perinatal bereavement support, and perinatal mood disorders. She is a Board Certified Music Therapist, Professional Counselor, doubly Certified Birth & Bereavement Doula, and passionate maternal mental health advocate.

Heidi has a Master’s Degree in Music Therapy and has been practicing for over 12 years. She has specialized in Medical Music Therapy since 2008, with research interests focused on developing Medical Music Therapy programs in medical settings and best practices protocol in Pre and Perinatal Music Therapy. She has presented her research and clinical work at regional, national, and international conferences.

Heidi is the Vice President of the Philadelphia Maternity Network, a member of the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPAH), and the Philadelphia Alliance for Labor Support (PALS).