Sometimes, the biggest pressure we feel when trying to conceive is through various social media outlets. We can easily be triggered by a complete stranger posting how easily they got pregnant. And, it isn’t always just the announcement that can be triggering. It is the gender reveals, asking what to put on registries, baby showers, nursery sneak peaks, birth announcements, milestone pictures, etc.
It is everything that encompasses the birth of a newborn baby.
So, how do we cope with the pressure of not having children yet? We will share 5 ways to help navigate the journey of not yet being a parent yet.
You can change your mind about how you choose to share your infertility journey. You may decide to be open with family and friends at first, but then later decide you no longer want to share—and that is okay! Perhaps you decide to unfollow a lot of people and accounts on social media to keep your own sanity and focus on your journey of having a baby/starting a family.
What is most important for you to focus on right now? Before taking on new commitments, review your priorities and be sure they align with what your goals are. Don’t be afraid to say no to requests from friends, family or work.
Give yourself grace. Prioritize your physical and mental health. Ensure you are giving yourself space and time to navigate your emotions on this journey.
Don’t rush the emotional process. Don’t expect of yourself things you wouldn’t expect of others. Let go of the guilt and focus on what’s most important in this moment.
“My coping mechanism was to accept and understand that people are going to have their happiness, but in order for me to have mine, I had to turn their’s off temporarily.” – HMF Volunteer
Schedule something to look forward to after appointments
It can be as simple as a walk with a friend, or as extravagant as a getaway with your partner—putting something on your calendar to look forward to after appointments may ease not so good news or allow you to celebrate certain milestones in your journey.
- What makes you happy?
- What friends/family members are safe for you to spend time with following appointments?
- What activities do you enjoy doing?
Although it can help to have something to look forward to—make sure the plans you make are ones that you would feel comfortable canceling at the last minute if that feels right at the moment!
There are endless benefits to journaling. At times, it can feel overwhelming to write down your feelings—but it’s more overwhelming to keep all of your emotions inside.
Journaling, even if it’s just short phrases, will allow us to look back and see the progress we’ve made. Furthermore, on more difficult days, reading encouraging words we’ve written in the past will uplift you and remind you of your hope.
Consider the following journal prompts:
- What are my fears around infertility?
- How did I feel after my last appointment?
- I am angry about infertility because…
- Infertility has taught me…
- What do I wish others knew about infertility?
We all handle stress differently, so learning how we process our emotions through journaling will allow us to put a plan in place to protect not only our heart, but our minds. Often, it’s helpful to practice a short meditation after journaling through tough emotions to bring you back to a loving place.
Sit with your grief
It’s easy to mask the pain of infertility by staying as busy as possible. While distractions can be good at times, it’s also important to honor your grief. When you start to feel all the feelings, don’t run from them—recognize it, set a timer for 5-10 minutes, and sit in the discomfort. It’s okay to not be okay.
If it feels like you’re struggling with the hardest season of your life, it’s because you are. The trauma of not being able to have children is very real.
Allowing ourselves to sit in the emotions of heartache, sadness, disappointment and resentment is important in order to recognize, and not diminish, the impact infertility has on our lives.
Research has shown that the psychological symptoms associated with infertility are similar to those associated with other serious medical conditions, such as cancer. Your story is worthy and valid.
Be honest-with yourself and others
Let’s face it—even those with the best intentions can sometimes make comments that are hurtful or inappropriate. Don’t be afraid to speak up and be honest about how their comment made you feel. It can be a learning experience for both of you! The more people are made aware that infertility is real, the more it can be talked about and the stigma will lessen with education.
“When we were asked why we didn’t have kids or when we were going to have more kids, we just explained we were seeking help to be able to do that as pregnancy hasn’t come easy.” -HMF Volunteer
Most of the time people are not out to offend – we only know what we know today by being open. Honesty allows people to pause and consider the whole picture for the next time they are talking to another couple, coworkers, family, etc.
You don’t need to be everything for everyone all the time. It’s okay to say, “I need a break,” and then take it. If you need to stay off social media for a period of time or during the holidays, that’s okay. If you decide you need a break from treatment or TTC (trying to conceive) at home, take the break.
Infertility is a huge part of our lives, but it’s not the only part.
So, at times, we may need to step away from our current checklist of fertility items and spend moments reconnecting to ourselves and others.
“I also ran into someone once who used the term “designer baby” when talking about IVF. I ended up talking to her privately and let her know those terms can actually be very hurtful to anyone going through IVF or infertility. She didn’t mean harm, but I took the opportunity to talk to her about it and hopefully create awareness about certain terms used.” – HMF Volunteer
Unhealthy Ways to Cope
Looking back, many of us find that some of the things we did during our journey were not helpful, and sometimes became unhealthy ways of coping. Many of our volunteers found that not seeking therapy or talking with someone we trusted ended up feeling like an unhealthy option for coping. You may have people telling you that it would be important or helpful to talk with someone. Don’t push the thought away. We wish we wouldn’t have.
“I think if I could go back in time, I should have been seeing a counselor and finding ways to talk through my stressors, feelings, etc.” – HMF Volunteer
“I had reached out once to a counselor, they had no availability and that was it for me. I felt like well shoot, I finally had the courage to call, got “shut down” and there we go, nothing I can do about it now.I wish I would have pushed through that and tried other places to provide me with things.” – HMF Volunteer
“During my journey, I was very unwilling to seek help for myself because I felt ashamed that I needed to talk to someone on this issue. I felt embarrassed that I was going through this because I didn’t know anyone else at the time that I was close with that had this experience.” – HMF Volunteer“If I was to do a better job coping, I would have gone to therapy!” – HMF Volunteer
Written by the Hopeful Mama Foundation Volunteer Team. We are incredibly grateful to all of our writers and volunteers, who open up their heart and share their journey with this community. If you would like to connect with one of our writers, please let us know by submitting an email on our website’s contact page.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Hopeful Mama Foundation. Any content provided by our authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual.