The emotional toll of dealing with infertility is difficult.
Infertility and the overwhelming desire to have a baby can be an extremely isolating experience. Many people trying to have a baby do not discuss this with others. This is often more so when trying for a baby for an extended period of time. This journey can be made more difficult as many people find talking about infertility very difficult. This is often because others don’t know what to say. In fact, they don’t have to say anything – but rather, listen. The emotional toll of dealing with infertility is very real.
As a society we have difficulty in dealing with these sad experiences. Most couples take their ability to have a child for granted. Some choose not to become parents, but most of those who do try to have a child, usually have no difficulty in achieving that goal.
However, for the one in six couples worldwide who would like to have a child but are unable to do so, it can be a very painful experience and one difficult to manage. For those who remain childless, infertility can become like a lifelong disability with ongoing emotional consequences.
Dealing with infertility at Christmas and times of focus on families
For couples who are trying for a baby, Christmas, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be very painful reminders of the fertility and success of other people – and the fact that they have not yet achieved this success.
Christmas is a time for the celebration of a special birth in history. It is a time for families. A time for children. The Christmas holiday season can be a stressful time for many reasons. For people experiencing fertility issues, this time can be a painful reminder of a longed-for child. If you are currently dealing with infertility, some thoughtful planning can help to reduce sadness and increase your chances of having an enjoyable Christmas time.
It’s not uncommon for couples or individuals experiencing fertility issues to not participate in family gatherings. To assist you to cope with such situation, please read on.
Make a conscious decision to:
- Have a polite response ready for when friends and family ask you when you plan to have children. Generally, people are not being unkind or thoughtless. They are often asking because they can’t think of anything else to say. We are all guilty of this if we are really honest with ourselves. Think through how you would deal with such a situation ahead of time. Plan your response so that you are prepared with a polite but firm reply.
- You don’t need to give details if you are dealing with infertility. Consider a short, simple response like “We don’t have children.” This is all you need to say. You don’t need to elaborate or justify your position.
- If you are not able to participate in a planned family gathering, arrange to see your parents or other family members a week or two before the event so they know you care about them. Tell them that this is a painful time for you and at the moment attending family functions is difficult. This will help them understand how you are feeling and leave you free to spend the day in a way that suits you.
Alternative ways to spend Christmas and family-oriented days:
- Try to find other people who are childfree that you would like to spend special days such as Christmas with. This way your thoughts wandering to not having a baby can be minimised.
- If you are dealing with infertility and seeing pregnant women or babies are a constant reminder of your struggle, be selective about the invitations you accept. In particular, re-think those gatherings where there will be lots of children or pregnant women. Remember, you don’t have to accept every invitation. Sometimes a polite ‘I am not able to attend’ is all that is needed. You don’t need to justify why you are not attending unless you feel you can share your feelings.
- Treat yourself by doing some things you really enjoy. This might be bushwalking, going to the theatre, planning a special holiday or just immersing yourself in a good book. Spend time with your partner, just you and them, and be thankful for your relationship. Sometimes we can become so engrossed in our desire to have a family that we forget the other person in the relationship. It’s okay to do something special for yourself and together. It doesn’t have to cost a thing. Even a romantic walk in the woods or along the beach can do wonders for a relationship. This allows us to freely communicate and share our emotions with the ones we love and feel safe with.
- Tell your family and friends that you appreciate their love and support (if they are aware of your journey). Keep in regular contact with them.
- Think of a way to create your own tradition to celebrate special occasions. For example on Mother’s or Father’s Day, make plans to go to a secluded location with a bottle of wine and a hamper of food that you consider very indulgent. Spend time telling yourself and your partner that this is also your special day, you do not have to have children to celebrate this event. When you are dealing with infertility, even just the desire to be a mum or dad entitles you to share in this day. Perhaps give your partner a special gift.
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