If you’re trying to conceive and struggling with infertility, putting on a happy face for your friends who are pregnant or new moms can be hard. While you feel happy for them, their joy can’t help but remind you of your own grief and pain. And you may feel jealous or even angry toward them -- and any other pregnant women you meet. Here are some tips for dealing with your emotions while trying to be supportive of your friends.
First of all, your emotions are valid. It’s completely normal to feel sad, jealous, angry, and afraid. Just remember: Those feelings are more about your own particular situation, rather than anything about your friend or her situation. Don’t feel ashamed of what you’re feeling, either. Forgiving yourself is an important part of letting go of these emotions.
Next, this may be one of those times when “fake it til you make it” just won’t cut it. Depending on your relationship with your friend, be honest with them. This will probably work better with a close friend than, say, that acquaintance who you sometimes get brunch with after yoga. Tell them how happy you are for them but also how it’s been hard for you to fully participate in their joy because of your own struggles. Your friend may not be able to understand exactly what you’re going through, unless they themselves have experienced infertility issues, but they’ll probably be empathetic to your struggles and understand how hard it must be for you. (On that point, it’s also important not to assume that your friend’s pregnancy or journey to conception was easy unless you know the full story.)
Talking to your friends may also help them understand if you decide to forgo attending baby showers during this time. A friend may feel slighted if you say you can’t go without giving any explanation. Telling them about your struggles and that going to a baby shower would be too emotionally taxing for you can put things into perspective for them. You can still show them that you care by sending a gift or card. Shop online, have a local bakery deliver, or buy them a digital gift card, so you don’t have to go shopping at a baby store. Similarly, it may be helpful for you to hide pregnant friends on Facebook or Instagram, so you don’t have to constantly see their posts.
If your friends haven’t experienced infertility, you may feel lonely during this time. Seek out other women going through similar issues. Our PS Life Facebook group is a warm community of women, many of whom have experienced fertility issues and/or pregnancy loss. Also, check out the National Infertility Association for other support groups in your area. You may also want to seek guidance from a therapist or spiritual counselor who can support you through this time. Talking about your emotions will help you process them.
Lastly, focus on other things in your life that you value. Trying to conceive, while a huge undertaking, is ultimately just one part of your overall life, and it’s important not to focus too heavily on just one thing.Sources: PyschologyToday.com, VeryWellFamily.com