When living with infertility, words that seem harmless to others can inflict major pain on your tender wounds. Even the kindest people say things that cause your heart to ache. Around Mother’s Day, these words can often have an extra sting. It’s important to have coping strategies to get you through those moments, especially around the holidays. We offer you three tips to help you get through Mother’s Day.
Tip 1: Educate others.
When friends and family make comments that hurt, how do you react? It can often be really difficult to confront people about hurtful words, even when you do it gently. People sometimes take feedback as criticism, but what if you use this as a teaching moment? Have some infertility statistics memorized, like the following:
- Yeah, it’s hard. Did you know that 1 in 8 couples are also going through this?
- It’s not always a female problem. Male infertility is common, too.
- I have a disease and it hurts. To top it all off, my insurance doesn’t even cover my condition.
If you are worried about how others will react to your words, remind yourself that you are not only protecting yourself, but you could be protecting other people with fertility problems too. Remember, your friend may also be at a loss for words and does not know how her words affect you.
Tip 2: Stay calm and talk about how you feel.
If you find yourself in a situation like the above, take a few deep breaths. When you feel ready to talk, remember to use feeling words. This way, you take ownership of your feelings, and let the other person know how his or her words make you feel. Here are some examples:
- I feel (sad, angry, upset) when you make light of my infertility struggles.
- I really need support right now because I feel (weak, scared, sad) inside.
- Mom, I know that you want to celebrate Mother’s Day together, but I am (sad, depressed, not feeling up to it) this year.¨¨
Of course, you always have the option of staying silent if that feels best for you.
Tip 3: Practice self-care.
This Mother’s Day, if you need some time alone, let your relatives know in advance. Call your mother, send her a gift, but also allow yourself time to heal. If you’ve ever flown on an airplane, you’ve heard the attendant say, “Put an oxygen mask on yourself before placing it on someone else.” The reason? You must take care of yourself first before you can take care of anybody else. This Mother’s Day, consider the following activities if you need some escapism:
- Spend time with someone who is really good at cheering you up “ someone who is optimistic, funny, supportive and always ready for a laugh. Go to the movies, dive into some popcorn (remember: it may boost fertility!) and escape for a few hours.
- Go ahead and make an appointment at a spa today, if you can. Get your nails done, have a massage, a facial, the works. Pamper yourself and relax completely.
- Plan a getaway with your partner for the weekend. Just you, your partner, a bottle of wine and a luxury hotel. Remember why you fell in love and be grateful that you have each other to get through the difficult times.
Attain Fertility offers a series of articles on coping with infertility.
As Mother’s day approaches, take care of yourself first. If your family and friends truly care about you and respect you, they will understand why you need extra infertility support right now. And if you haven’t located an infertility support group near you, check out this list of support groups at RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. RESOLVE also shares a variety of stories from women about how they choose to cope during Mother’s Day with infertility.
I hope these tips and stories help you on your journey. This Mother’s Day I will be lighting candles and saying prayers for all of you. Please let us know how you are doing.
Britt Berg is a writer, blogger, and content manager for Attain Fertility. She is also a trained therapist and co-author of Making a Baby, a book about infertility.