I never thought I would have the courage to write about this in public, but I am finally in a place in my life where I feel that by sharing this, it can help other women that are in the same position as me. I also want to shed light on how other women may avoid church on Mother’s Day, not because they could not have children, but because they lost a child.

I have always loved children. Children are always drawn to me. I spent years coaching youth soccer and helping in children’s church because I love to help make a difference and be a positive role model. I had a dream when I was young that I would have a lot of children, a dog and the white picket fence. That is usually the dream for most people.

I didn’t want to start attempting to try for children until my late 20s. I was very focused on school, my job and my church. Then I found the person who I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. He was from a family of 10 brothers and sisters and wanted a very large family. We tried to have children, but I never got pregnant. I felt completely broken, and I did not want him to go through life without his dream of a large family, so I started pushing him away until he finally left.

I had two other long-term relationships where I thought, “Maybe it will happen now. Maybe I will get pregnant.” It never happened for me. I felt like no one would love someone like me because I was not a whole person, so I pushed both people away. These individuals told me they accepted me for me, but in my heart, I did not believe it.

Eventually, due to medical issues, I had to have a hysterectomy at 41. It was almost a sense of relief, because I could blame my not having kids on the surgery and not because I was not good enough.

When someone is in my position, it makes it very hard to go to church on Mother’s Day. I love seeing all the children and mothers there. That part does not bother me. It has always been the part in the service where every mother gets a carnation and gets to stand up and be honored. This is not wrong. Mothers should be honored. They have one of the hardest and best jobs on the planet. From my perspective, though, I would feel worthless. I would not feel like a complete woman. I would feel emptier on that day, more than I would feel on a regular basis.

I read some articles this morning about other women who go through this same thing on Mother’s Day at church. Some lost a child due to miscarriage or death and now they are childless. They too feel hurt on this day, watching mothers be honored. It was nice to read that I am not alone, so I am hoping that someone who needs to hear this message will read this piece.

I do not know the answer on how to make childless women feel comfortable at church on this day or even attend church at all on this day. I always do go on this day, even though last year I almost had to leave. Maybe the pastor could acknowledge women with fertility issues or those who have lost children. I am sure there are other suggestions as well.

I have learned to accept this part of my life and have gone through therapy to deal with it. It does not mean that the pain is gone, but I do know that I am a valuable person just as I am, and God had a purpose for me, even if my life is not like I imagined it when I was young.

Stefanie Daubert is a Bakersfield resident and a master of social work student. She can be reached at sdaubert@usc.edu.