Infertility, in and of itself, is one of the harder emotional and physical experiences a woman can face. It triggers a range of uncomfortable emotions, questions and new realities—and that’s especially true if you feel like you are the only one struggling to conceive. Indeed, being surrounded by friends with babies and bumps is a constant reminder that you are still not pregnant. But however tough your fertility journey may be, there are ways to cope.
Here are 6 tips to help you cope with infertility struggles
1. Try not to compare and be gentle with yourself
One of the more common ways we start judging ourselves is relative to those closest to us. Though we inherently know that comparing ourselves won’t ease our pain, it doesn’t really keep us from looking at our friends during a baby shower and wondering what might be wrong with us.
First, remember that you don’t know someone else’s story (especially not their sex life). Though you may think your friend got pregnant in no time, it may not be the case. After all, a lot of people keep their fertility struggles to themselves. Plus, conceiving isn’t a competition. So please, be gentle with yourself and try to understand that your journey may not look the same as others’.
2. Get support for infertility struggles
If you feel overcome by negative feelings and can’t be around pregnant people without starting to compare yourself, seek the help of a therapist, a counselor or even a dear friend. Surrendering to the comparison mindset can become very isolating and can make you feel like you’re spinning out of control. The simple fact of talking about your pain can not only make you feel safe, but also help you put things into perspective.
3. Feel your feelings around not getting pregnant
Honoring your feelings and giving yourself permission to feel them is a crucial step towards recovery and acceptance. So if you’re feeling angry or sad when a friend announces her pregnancy, don’t repress or deny your feelings, and give yourself some time to get them all out. Write in your journal, talk about your pain to your partner or someone else you trust… However you choose to let it all out, give yourself a time limit and try to find perspective.
4. Set boundaries
It’s okay to decline a baby shower invite. Especially if you just experienced a pregnancy loss or got yet another negative sign on the pregnancy test. The same holds true for inquiring minds. It’s okay to say you’d rather not talk about your fertility experience. Setting limits will give you the space to work through your feelings. Plus, communicating those boundaries will also allow you to open up about the fact that you are having a difficult time and just need understanding.
5. Become your own ally
When you’re dealing with any kind of social pressure, the first thing to do is to admit that you’re having a tough time. So many women who are going through fertility treatments maintain a strong facade instead of admitting to and accepting their own struggle. Acknowledging your needs and emotions as challenges arise is the first step to self-care; and being able to treat yourself in a kind, gentle and loving way during your fertility journey is essential.
6. Do something just for you
You deserve extra love and care right now, so why not try and do one of those things you’ve always wanted to do? Plan a getaway across the globe, go skydiving, or go on a wine tasting trip with your girlfriends. Whatever is on your bucket list, go out and do it.
A version of this story was originally published on April 22, 2019. It has been updated.