How To Cope When You’re Struggling With Infertility While Friends Are Celebrating Motherhood


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May 15 2024, Published 8:00 a.m. ET

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Mother’s Day has just passed, but the celebrations of motherhood continue throughout the year. And it can be difficult for women struggling with efforts to become parents, especially if you are on a fertility journey, have struggled with infertility, or do not fit into the traditional family structure. Those invites to baby showers, updates on the first steps of a friend’s new baby, or other celebrations around motherhood can trigger uncomfortable thoughts and feelings.

These experiences can often lead to sadness, anxiety or isolation, so we have pulled together some advice on how to cope:

1. Kindly decline invitations.

If celebrations of motherhood or parenting milestones will bring you pain or otherwise be difficult for you to manage, Harvard Medical School expert Ellen S. Glazer recommends avoidance. You can celebrate distance by sending a gift or scheduling a phone call. If you are able to avoid public celebrations, you may be able to otherwise distract yourself with a bit of self-care, reflection, therapy or doing something else fun with loved ones.

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Source: Unsplash
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2. Plan strategically.

Sometimes, avoiding motherhood or related celebrations is not possible, so Glazer recommends figuring out what you can do to celebrate your journey in a way that will honor it while also not triggering pain. This could include cooking a meal at home instead of going out, going to the theater or planning a day trip to shows and places that you enjoy.

3. Decrease time spent on social media.

Mother’s Day is a busy time for social media, and if you are someone who may be susceptible to feeling triggered by seeing posts by people celebrating the day, allow yourself to stay off of social media for the day. Susan Rizzato, a license clinical social worker, advises taking a social media detox to avoid seeing images and messages that can trigger negative thoughts. 

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4. Prioritize your needs.

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Source: Unsplash

Stay in tune with your emotional needs if you do decide to celebrate with loved ones, especially if plans include going to places that might be crowded with other people celebrating. Georgia Witkin, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry and Ob/Gyn and reproductive sciences at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, recommends speaking up if you are in a situation that is too much to handle, and to avoid pretending like everything is “fine” when it is not.

5. Engage with your community.

Planning ahead and scheduling an activity unrelated to Mother’s Day can help distract you and keep your mind elsewhere while also allowing you to do something to help out your community. Experts Melody Bacon, Ph.D., chair of the Marital and Family Therapy Programs at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, and Lois Braverman, president and CEO of the Ackerman Institute for the Family, recommend joining a local walk or run honoring a cause that you support or joining a local environmental group to help do a clean at a park or playground.

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By: Gillian Smith

Gillian Smith is a professional communicator by day and night, leveraging more than a decade in the news industry to share stories that have a positive impact on society. Gillian believes everyone has a story worth telling, and she has made it her professional mission to tell those stories in a responsible way. Gillian received a BA in journalism from Ithaca College and a Master's in Journalism Innovation from Syracuse University. She is currently the director of external communication and media relations at Suffolk University.

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