I walked into church on Mother’s Day with a smile on my face and a genuine enjoyment for a beautiful spring day. It was crowded, and I sat towards the back with my little family. A neighbor walked past with her newborn baby who was just weeks old. I admired the little bundle and returned my attention to the 3-year-old on my lap.

The service began and was full of tributes to motherhood. Although I had struggled for years with infertility, Mother’s Day had never had an adverse effect on me as it did on many others. I had a wonderful mother, I had become a mother through the miracle of adoption, and we celebrated a beautiful birth mother that gave life to our daughter. I loved celebrating the unique path that made me a mother. This Mother’s Day, however, would be different for some reason.

I didn’t last long in the meeting before that undeniable feeling came upon me. My chest tightened, a lump rose in my throat and I knew I was about to cry. This wouldn’t be a single tear gently trickling down my cheek, unnoticeable to those around me. I could tell that the flood gates were opening.

I excused myself and managed to get to the car before erupting into a flood of tears. After a few minutes of a very unattractive sob I grabbed a scrap of paper and a pencil. I had to write. Somehow it seemed like it would be a good way to sort out my feelings. I wanted to be able to understand the way I felt. I wanted to be able to help my husband understand the way I felt. I did my best to put my thoughts onto paper.

My words were merely ramblings until I realized that for me, that day, infertility was a sneeze. The epiphany brought understanding to my heart, and a little giggle amidst the ugly tears. A sneeze can be mildly predictable. There are those times, however, that a sneeze can come out of nowhere and catch you completely off guard. It might be subtle, or it might be a sneeze that startles the people next to you and nearly bruises a rib!

That beautiful Sunday, infertility had wracked my body just like a harsh, unexpected sneeze. It came on quickly and was severe! It hadn’t been one of those times that I anticipated tears and sadness. But they had come. I have learned that it is best to cry the tears that need to be cried and feel the sadness for a moment.

I decided that just like a sneeze, it also needed to be over quickly. I had had my cry – but inside that church building was a man and a little girl whom I loved very much. They loved me and needed me. I dried my eyes and went back into the church to enjoy the rest of the services. My face would not allow me to hide the fact that I shed a great number of tears. That would take time to subside. The physical evidence of my tears would remain for a time, just as the emotional pain would remain as a reminder of my inability to bear children.

Infertility will always be part of my life, it will always be part of my marriage, and it will attack again with the same speed and vengeance as it had that day. I can only hope that when it does it passes quickly, like a sneeze. And all that will remain of sneezes and infertility will be a pile of dirty tissues and a resolve to love the life I have and those I share it with.

How do you explain your unexpected bouts of sadness regarding infertility?