Every spring seems to bring on another influx of baby shower invitations and announcements, backyard bar-b-que’s and Chicago festivals. While dealing with infertility, the obstacle of maintaining sanity and politeness while shuffling through occasions that seem fun versus those that seem unbearable can be quite complicated. So how do couples dealing with infertility survive in a fertile world?
The fertile world can seem like a very cruel place to an infertile couple; every corner brings a mother pushing her stroller, TV shows are ending their seasons with pregnancy announcements, and celebrities seem to be popping up all over sharing their happy news! Although it will be impossible to start walking with blinders on or rewrite the ending of TV shows, infertile couples do have the ability to protect themselves. Learning to say “no” will become as important as the daily hormone injections. While staring at the RSVP on a baby shower invitation, it may be best to be up front with the host. Either by explaining the infertility struggle and it’s toll on seeing others who are pregnant or just the lack of free time available in a cycle can bring on a world of empathy and understanding. In a case where sharing such intimate details is not an option, it may be best to fain an illness, business meeting or family responsibility. People are less likely to be upset for missing an event when there is an “impromptu mother in law visit” as opposed to telling them the fact that they’re pregnant makes you want to avoid them like the bubonic plague.
Lack of control and infertility treatments seem synonymous. Professional and social calendars that were once filled with business meetings and get-togethers are now overflowing with injection times and procedures dictated by your physician and cycle. These uncertainties and booked schedules can make social lives difficult. Isolation becomes easier when it seems no on understands and everyone around is pregnant. This is when it is vital to fill spare time with child-free friends. This group of child-free friends will become a great support system during this infertility period. Going out with friends who will not be talking about little Johnny taking his first steps, Kate deciding to do a water birth or the surprise pregnancy announcement over dinner can be a crucial tool to maintaining normalcy. It will also be a great distraction during the two week wait!
After avoiding the pregnancy-filled occasions and filling them with child-free ones, it will be beneficial to find a support system of men, women or couples who are also dealing with infertility. For example, Pulling Down the Moon in Chicago (www.pullingdownthemoon.com) offers a variety of spa like features, yoga, support and informational seminars. Their missions is to “bring individuals together so they might have the support and companionships of others…”. Another great outlet might be support groups. RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association (www.resolve.org) provides free, peer led support groups throughout Chicagoland. These groups range from those first starting infertility treatments, to veterans who have moved on to third party options. Another great resource for those who may be seeking privacy is www.inspire.com. This website offers the ability to journal about infertility and meet others through a variety of groups ranging from endometriosis, unexplained infertility, to miscarriages.
When everyone around seems pregnant, there are options to successfully maneuver through this fertile world. Learning when and how to say no, maintaining a social life and finding a support system are all tools that will aid in this journey. Although it will not be possible to avoid every pregnant woman on Michigan Avenue, following these guidelines might bring some peace and shelter during the infertility struggle.