How to cope on Mother’s Day this year if you’re struggling to conceive
When Mother’s Day comes around each year, it can be a very difficult time for those who are struggling to conceive or those in the midst of fertility treatment. Fertility Counsellor, Melissa Stephens, shares some strategies to help prepare yourself for the day.
As a fertility counsellor, I’ve seen many patients over the years who have struggled with coping and understandably so.
Unless you’ve been there, you might not understand the sadness that comes alongside the lead up to Mother’s Day as someone who is struggling with infertility. From the large amount of marketing and promotion that focuses on family life and motherhood, to the family get together’s with well-meaning relatives and friends asking when you will be starting a family their niece/ nephew will come into this world – it can be a lot to handle.
But there are things you can do to help emotionally prepare yourself for the day, as well as practical strategies to counteract the potential scenarios that couples or individuals might be feeling anxious about.
Strategy 1: Spend meaningful time with loved ones who understand
If you have a partner, plan to do activities that will positively benefit your relationship and strengthen your connection. This can be as simple as going on a long bush walk, or treating yourselves to a special date night out on the town. Connection with your partner can be a powerful coping strategy.
It’s also important not to avoid the topic on the day – it’s ok to be upset, and to acknowledge your feelings with your partner. In fact, I encourage talking about it, get it out in the open and allow yourselves the opportunity to comfort each other. Your partner may not realise that this day could be difficult for you, so communication here is key.
And if you don’t have a partner, spending time with loved ones can also mean planning the day with a close friend who knows about what you’re going through and is able to provide you with the support you need.
Strategy 2: Be ok with saying ‘no’ to family events
It is absolutely ok to say ‘no’ to a family event if you feel uncomfortable or know it will be hard for you to enjoy.
Everyone’s family life is different, but I’ve found that patients can really struggle with being around siblings who have already created their family, or feel pressure from parents and in-laws who mean well but may not know their struggles.
For those struggling to conceive, feelings of fear and uncertainty often come to the surface around Mother’s Day, and family events can act as a triggering event. So it’s important to be aware of your own emotional well-being leading up to any family events, and know that it’s perfectly acceptable to only pop in to say hello, leave early, or not go at all. If you are going to a gathering where you may be asked awkward questions about your plans to have a family, have a simple one line answer prepared that you feel comfortable saying.
Strategy 3: Focus on what you are doing right now on your fertility journey
Fertility can sometimes be a long journey, but it can be especially helpful to focus on the things that you are doing right now to achieve your dreams of parenthood. Whether you have sought out advice from a fertility specialist, are making lifestyle changes to be at your best physical health, or perhaps you are in the middle of fertility treatment already.
Acknowledge that you’re doing all you can, and focus on the things you can control.
Strategy 4: Avoid grandiose negative thinking
In other words, it’s ok to remain hopeful and to lean on that hopeful feeling!
I often see patients who try and avoid feeling hopeful because they worry it will hurt even more if things don’t work out, and don’t want to ‘jinx it’ or ‘get their hopes up’. But if you let go of the hope sometimes the opposite feelings come rushing in. This can lead to grandiose negative thinking, which can be a difficult rabbit hole to climb out from.
If you do find yourself getting stuck with negative thinking, try to go back to strategy #3 and write down all of the steps you’ve taken so far in your fertility journey.
It’s normal for feelings and emotions to fluctuate from hopeful to quite negative just acknowledge how you are feeling in the moment and keep going, don’t be hard on yourself and have expectations about how you should be feeling or coping with the situation.
Strategy 5: Remember that you’re not alone.
Many women and couples are likely going through a similar situation, even if you don’t personally know them. Approximately 1 in 6 couples in Australia struggle with infertility, meaning many people will be preparing to cope for Mother’s Day in the same way you are. This is not to minimise your own personal experience, but rather to say that there are support groups and resources available that can be invaluable in sharing stories, fears, hopes, and experiences with each other.
You are welcome to join our Facebook Support Forum for example, a supportive environment where you can connect with other people who are trying to conceive or going through fertility treatment.
Any of our patients can also access support counselling either by phone, zoom or in person. If you’re feeling that Mother’s Day will be an especially difficult day this year, you are welcome to call us and book a session in advance.