Surviving Mother’s Day and Father’s Day When Dealing With Infertility

It is always difficult to cope with the intense emotions of finding out that you are not able to become a mom or dad without medical assistance, as well as to manage the emotional strains of fertility treatment. But at no time is it harder than during those holidays specifically dedicated to family – a poignant celebration of what you want so much, and simultaneously a stark reminder that you can’t have it as easily as most other people do.

With Mother’s Day and Father’s Day celebrated this time of year, those dealing with infertility – whether their own or that of a loved one – can prepare themselves before the celebrations to ensure they can survive – and even grow – through this trying time.

Holidays such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are difficult for hundreds of thousands of couples worldwide who are facing infertility, whether they are receiving fertility treatment or not.

It is not only a distressing celebration of what these infertile couples most want to be, but can’t become naturally: mom and dad to their own baby – it is also simultaneously a stark reminder that they will need medical assistance for a chance to achieve their dream of a family.

This realisation is devastating to most couples, and unleashes an avalanche of emotions and sensitive reactions to certain situations, like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, or any celebration of the children and families they don’t yet have.

It is important to understand that the reactions infertile couples experience to these types of situations is understandable and even natural. For example, baby showers are certain to trigger strong emotions if you are unsuccessfully trying to conceive, and it is very difficult to enjoy a kiddies birthday party when you are still not pregnant, even after treatment.

Knowing that you are likely to have strong emotions and reactions on family holidays like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day – and realising that it is OK to have many intense emotions – you can plan ahead to manage the situations you choose to engage in and to avoid situations that will only intensify an already difficult time on your fertility journey.

With the tips below, you can ensure you and your partner can get through these holidays with the least emotional upheaval, and can even use this opportunity to build coping skills that will prove useful all through life.

Handling uncomfortable conversations

Sometimes because they have genuine good intentions, and sometimes because they are just completely unaware of what you are dealing with, people can make the most insensitive comments or ask the most uncomfortable questions, especially at holidays and celebrations centring around kids or parents.

Just some examples include:

When will you make your mother a grandma?
So why aren’t you pregnant yet?
Don’t you want kids?
It will happen, just relax.
Are you not drinking wine for a reason?
You shouldn’t wait too long.
As soon as you adopt, you’ll get pregnant.
I know someone who had 3 IVFs and now she’s pregnant.

Because you can be certain to encounter these types of questions or statements somewhere along your fertility journey, it is important to speak to your partner about it before you encounter these situations, so you are ready to respond in a way that is least upsetting to you.

Be honest with each other about how statements or questions like these make you feel, and decide as a couple how you will respond, so you present a united front together.

For example, decide whether you will open up fully about your fertility challenges to some or all family members or friends, or whether you will only provide limited information, or none at all – because it is a private matter, and you can also keep it so, if you choose.

Select with care those you confide in, agree together on how much you will share, and have some well-rehearsed ready-to-go answers for those you don’t want to share with. Set your personal boundaries and steer clear of those who cannot respect these. Only you and your partner can decide what it right for you for this holiday.

However, when deciding, bear in mind that sharing your experience may bring you closer to family and friends, and help you build a network of support that can be a lifesaver during your fertility journey.

Also remember that sometimes, when people find about your fertility challenges, they don’t know how to react or what to say or what to do. Some may even avoid speaking about it at all costs, making you feel that the person doesn’t even care about your struggles – even though it is not true.

Avoid situations that intensify feelings of sadness and frustration

Don’t be hard on yourself if you simply don’t feel up to parties, celebrations or get-togethers, including Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. For now, your emotional well-being is the most important thing.

You can choose to avoid situations that feel overwhelming like baby showers and kids’ parties that are certain to intensify feelings of sadness and loss. For those get-togethers you simply can’t miss, you can decide to only make a brief appearance or leave the option open to depart early.

Also consider that attending a holiday party or an event might be a great change of scenery and could even be fun, perhaps providing an opportunity to get your mind off things, even if just for a few hours.

Prioritise self-care activities

Focus on the aspects of celebrations and holidays that are enjoyable and fulfilling beyond family and children, for example, time to engage in a favourite hobbies or volunteering on a project. Make new traditions that feel right for you as a couple during your fertility journey.

Prioritise self-care by, for example, going for a nature walk or game drive, visiting a spa for a pamper, or going away for a relaxing weekend.

Seek support

It is important to remember that you are not alone on your fertility journey. You can reach out for support from friends, family, or support groups of people who understand your experience.

While your family or close friends can’t help with the fertility challenges you face, they can offer support during this difficult time, and you may find they are very keen to help.

Think about how you can handle this in a positive way – perhaps by making specific and direct requests to those who want to help – so they can provide the support you really need. For example, ask your parents to drop off dinner for the weekend, or ask a friend for a five-minute chat in the morning or request a relative to check in weekly, with the flexibility to change these arrangements when needed.

Speaking to a counsellor or a psychologist can also be incredibly helpful, as they are able to provide a better understanding of the emotions that are commonly experienced by infertile couples and also to help you learn more effective coping strategies for your fertility journey and beyond.

The best way to deal with infertility

Because the vast majority of the possible causes of infertility can be treated medically, the best way to deal with infertility is to have a consultation with a fertility specialist, who will be able to pinpoint the exact cause or causes of your infertility as a couple, and then provide the exact treatment required for you to have the family you dream of, including psychological support.

At Cape Fertility:

  • we make quality fertility treatment affordable
  • we value each individual patient
  • we deliver individualised and personalised care
  • we always strive for higher success rates
  • Arranging your consultation is as simple as contacting us here… We look forward to meeting you!