by Kristin Magnacca
Whether or not you are out of the closet to your family and friends regarding your fertility issues, holidays or special occasions including the upcoming Mother's Day celebration can be difficult to handle.
While going through fertility treatment, the approach of Mother's Days left me with mixed emotions. I wanted to be with my mom to honor her on her day, but I was caught in the middle of my own unpleasant feelings about not having achieved motherhood myself. Being with my mom meant being with the whole family and having to prepare for all the emotional "stuff" that came with this situation.
My experience with my own "fertility challenges," and information I learned through trial and error, enabled me to develop the strategies below that can help those during these often difficult situations.
- Allow yourself to feel what you are feeling without judgment. I definitely felt guilty about being confused and upset over Mother's Day, but I did not take into account my situation and the effects the fertility treatments had on my mind, body and soul. So, feel what you're feeling without placing any judgment and then release it to the universe --- either journal the feeling away or having a "hissy fit" just get that energy out!
- Determine which course of action will be best for you: To attend or not to attend, that is the question? Again, make this decision without judging yourself or being too hard on yourself. There may be ramifications for not attending a family celebration, but so be it! Right now, you have to think of yourself and your physical and mental health first!
- If you plan on attending, break the day's events down into portions and choose which aspects you are capable of dealing with. As I detailed in my book, when faced with celebrations that I was nervous about attending, I would set a goal of attending the cocktails and appetizers portion of the event. If I made it through that and wanted to stay, I was already successful. This allowed me to not feel like a failure if I had to leave before dinner. I already had my escape plan and I was a winner!
- Have a secret code word for your husband/partner. We used the phrase "these pretzels are making me thirsty" from Seinfeld. When I started talking about pretzels, my husband knew I was ready to have an emotional meltdown and he would run for my coat or the car!
- This might be the most important tip I can offer to those struggling to accept their own feelings while having to face social situations: In marketing there is a term called an "elevator speech." A elevator speech is a one to two second blurb that your have down cold and can use to sell your business to someone whom you happen to meet on an elevator or anywhere else. The door closes and you have just the amount of time it takes to get to the next floor to convey your information in a clear and coincide manner.
- How this applies to being "fertility challenged" is this: One night my husband and I were at one of his client's parties. Across the table a gentleman yelled something about my husband's manhood, and asked, "When are you selfish yuppies going to have a family?" I glanced down at my butter knife and for a brief instant was inclined to use it! Instead, we just left; I was in tears. The outside world could see how hard my husband and I were working to achieve our professional goals, but the work we were putting into our goal of creating a family, the most important of all of our desires, was invisible to others.
After that incident I practiced my response:
This one goes for the juggler! "You know what, I probably would have thought that same thing, but never said it out loud. In my experience, I've learned that how I see things might be very far from the truth!"
Why don't you have children? When are you going to start a family? "I would love to have children, sometimes it isn't as easy as it seems." "Hey, that's a great idea!" or "Bite me!"
I really relied on the first elevator speech to get me through a lot of tight spots. I would shorten it to, "You know I probably would have thought the same thing but never said it out loud." This usually shuts the person up cold and the subject is immediately changed.
- Plan something that would make you feel sexy! Wear red undies, paint your toes or buy a removal tattoo and put it someplace where your partner will find it! Change what the day has become to mean to you and create a new connection in your mind!
Kristen Magnacca, author of
Girlfriend to Girlfriend: A Fertility Companion and Love and Infertility: Survival Strategies for Balancing Infertility, Marriage, and Life," is an expert in the emotional and personal challenges that women face while enduring fertility treatment. A board member and volunteer of RESOLVE. Kristen has served as an expert on the emotional aspects of infertility for national publications and broadcast media including NBC's The Today Show, Woman’s World magazine, PBS' Health Week and The Boston Globe. Kristen, Mark, and their children, Cole and Grace, live in Upton, Massachusetts.
Copyright © Kristin Magnacca. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org.