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Family, Friends and Your Infertility
Family and friends can be the best and the worst sources of support. You may hate that some people find and propose answers or solutions for your infertility. On the other hand, some friends or family may be so uncomfortable with the experience you are going through that they don’t bring it up, making you feel even more isolated and alone.
You may want support from your family but at the same time feel like you are disappointing them. Your parents’ desire for grandchildren is impacted by your situation. Old sibling rivalries may become more intense. It is not unusual to feel jealous when a sister gets pregnant and has children before you do.
Whom and What to Tell
Decide, with your partner, what information you want to share and with whom. Set guidelines: what is off limits for discussion and what is okay. Think about who tends to give unsolicited advice and how to deter that. Think about what social events might be difficult and whether you will attend. Develop a sign or signal, as some couples do, that indicates “I need to go—this is too painful.” One couple decided that if the wife coughed three times in a row, it meant that she needed an excuse to leave and it was up to the husband to make one up. They never had to use the “escape cough,” but knowing they had a plan helped.
When you are going through infertility, holidays can be painful and family gathering something you dread. It is important to recognize what is hardest for you and make some adjustments. For example, if it is painful to be with little children opening gifts on Christmas morning, visit later in the day. If Mother’s Day celebrations are hard, offer to take your mother out to lunch or dinner the week before. Protect yourself. Don’t attend a baby shower or buy baby gifts if you just had a miscarriage; send a gift certificate and see your friend when it feels best for you. She may miss you at the shower, but if you force yourself to go, you may suffer for days before and after. Take care of yourself, and preserve your emotional energy. The infertility experience will pass and you will not have to protect yourself like this forever.