Uh-oh. It’s that time of the year again; Thanksgiving; Christmas; Chanukah. Time to be merry and bright, cheerful, and glad to see all those friends who may have been out of the loop for much of the year. Except that maybe you’d just rather not see them again until you are pregnant or have a babe in arms.
Here come the comments like “You’ve been married how long now……..?” and the “Any new news…?” with the accompanying raised eyebrows that imply you really should have been pregnant by now.
Social Self Defense Techniques for the Not-Yet-Parent:
- Be selective about the invitations you accept. Not every gathering is fun or full of emotionally supportive people. If great aunt Sophie is going to ‘tsk,tsk’, and make comments about how your cousin Frannie got pregnant on her honeymoon, give yourself permission to say “Gee, I’m sorry but I already have something planned for that time.” The good thing about the holidays is that they’ll come around next year and you can have a do-over. This is only a temporary solution for an annual event.
- Your partner is on the journey with you and has also been exposed to at least some of the social pressures you are experiencing. Collaborate with your partner to come up with an exit strategy for social gatherings that are causing you discomfort. Create a signal that you both know mean it is time to leave. “I’m sorry we have to leave so soon but there’s an event for my partner’s work that we really need to attend this evening…”
- Avoid the stores if all the cheerful elves and images of apple cheeked children in the snow make you feel empty and sad. If you must buy presents for children and the stores are just a reminder of your own not-yet-pregnancy, shop online. You can have presents wrapped and delivered to your intended without having to wish anyone “Happy Holidays.”
- Be good to yourself. At some level we all know that the ideal of perfect holiday happiness is a myth. The best present you might be able to give yourself is time away from the usual expectations for this year. A vacation out of town with your partner, luxurious spa treatments that make you like your body again, giving yourself permission to say “no, not this year” to uncomfortable social situations.
- Remember: you’re a grown-up, even if you don’t have children yet. You don’t owe anyone an explanation concerning why you are not pregnant, don’t have children, and about your family building plans. You may need a few stock phrases to repeat often with a smile to the continually curious, such as “You’ll be the first to know…”, “That’s up to God…..”, or anything else that is noncommittal and not too rude. Then change the subject of conversation or move on talk to others.
Our Clinical Psychologist, Kris Bevilacqua can offer counseling and support while patients are navigating their fertility journey.
Resources on coping with infertility: