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Figuring Out What Works

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a blog by Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW, June 25, 2010

Your best friend is pregnant (and you are going through

You are invited to a baby shower at work.

You have to spend Thanksgiving with your four cousins all of whom have new babies.

The list goes on, but these are just a few of the situations that make infertility more than a medical problem and into a series of social ordeals. Your task is to figure out how to navigate your way through these situations with minimal impact to you and to the relationships that matter to you.

Figure out what works — or at least, what “sort of’ works. It will never be perfect, but there are some choices that will be easier for you than others. For example, I have found that for most people, attending a baby shower is the worst of the worst. Contrast that with having a quiet lunch in a favorite restaurant with your pregnant friend. It may be difficult seeing her very pregnant, but it sure beats (for most people) sitting in a room of women oohing and aahing about baby clothes.

Another challenge for most people enduring infertility is figuring out how to deal with friends’ pregnancy announcements. Again, it is never easy, but most people take some comfort in being told early and in private. Remember that your friends may not intuitively know this — they may, in fact, try to spare you upset by delaying telling you. In order to avoid this torturous experience, you may want to instruct close friends in advance about what will make it easier for you. If you later receive a call from a friend senstitively saying, “I have some news. It’s difficult to make this call but I wanted to let you know before I told others…,” the call will still sting but you will reap the benefit not only of learning in a way that feels safer and more respectful to you, but you will also be grateful that your friend was able and willing to listen to you.

Infertility is an “out of control” experience. Figuring out what helps and what does not and finding ways to communicate this information to your friends and family can restore at least some small measure of control.

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