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Today is Father’s Day. Like every year since we moved away from our parents, Hubs and I each called our fathers for a quick chat. Like normal, we wished them a Happy Father’s Day, asked about their plans for the day, and signed off by sending them our love. However, this year when we hung up our reality enveloped us with a bit of sadness, a glimmer of hope, and a reminder that our infertility does not own us.
You see, this is the first time we have had to celebrate Father’s Day (and Mother’s Day) after making the choice to stop trying to get pregnant after years of infertility. In the past, we would greet Father’s Day and Mother’s Day with positive thoughts and cute comments on how “next year” would be the year we would get to celebrate with our rainbow baby in our arms. This year, our outlook weighed heavy on our hearts and minds. Yet, I know we are not alone.
In the US, one in eight couples struggles with infertility. All of us affected by infertility know that coping with it can be extremely difficult and isolating on a normal day, let alone Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. While we have had a pretty solid game plan for today, I know we could have planned better to make this day easier on both of us.
6 Tips for coping with infertility on Father’s Day and Mother’s Day
I’ve put together and shared a list of tips for infertile couples on how to deal with Father’s Day and Mother’s Day. This list is based on my personal reflections and is not conclusive, but I hope many of you may find it helpful.
- Make plans in advance. Do not wait until the last minute to know what you are going to do on these days and who you will be with. Several of the following tips all roll-up into this one as you will be better able to handle those items and situations if you have planned in advance.
- Stay off of social media. There is absolutely no way you can go online and not see posts about Father’s Day and Mother’s Day in your social media feeds. In fact, it is pretty commonplace these days to post special tributes to your parents/grandparents on these days. If you want to or feel obligated to post these tributes, do so early in the day and then log off social media. Also, don’t forget to turn off your notifications!
- Embrace your relationship. Your infertility journey impacts both you and your significant other. There will be bouts of sadness throughout the day, but try to focus on the strength of the love that you share with your significant other. After giving each other time to share, make time to laugh, play a board game, go for an afternoon drive, plan a day date, etc. Just do something positive that allows you to spend quality time with your significant other.
- Acknowledge your parents and grandparents. It’s pretty impossible to ignore Father’s Day and Mother’s Day altogether. At a minimum, etiquette demands that you need to either send a card or pick up the phone and call your parents and/or grandparents on these special days. What etiquette does not demand is that you gather in person to celebrate these days with anyone other than your parents and/or grandparents. Especially to those of you forced to attend multi-generational parties with pregnant siblings/cousins and their ever-growing broods. If this is your life, schedule time to celebrate quietly before or after the holiday. Mostly likely, your parents and/or grandparents have been by your side through your infertility struggles. They will understand how rough these days can be for you and your significant other and will support you if you are not comfortable around children and pregnancies at this time in your infertility journey.
- Grieve. It’s ok to grieve the loss of your children and/or what could have been on these days. No one but you gets to judge how you handle your emotions, especially on days when the rest of the country is celebrating the role you want most in your life.
- Talk to someone in your shoes. Talk to your significant other, a close friend, a pastor, or join a support group like RESOLVE. I have previously participated in one of their groups and found it to be most helpful to share my journey with others walking along a similar journey. Just remember that you are not alone on these days, as one in eight couple struggles with infertility.
If you are reading this and are not personally struggling with infertility, I encourage you to share the tips above with anyone you know who may find them helpful.