The holiday season is upon us, and I would like to remind readers to be especially sensitive to the issues faced by infertile couples during this time.
You might be thinking that you don’t’ even know any infertile couples. But I urge you to look around, and to think carefully, and you will probably realize that there are infertile couples in your midst.
They may be your friends, or your niece or nephew, or someone you know from church or temple. They could be your children, or the children of your friends. They might be in a social or professional group to which you belong. They might live on down the street, or even next door. If you are a medical or mental health professional, these people may be your patients.
Because infertility and miscarriage hit 1/6 of couples of childbearing age, the chance that you don’t’ know anyone going through this crisis is slim to none. So I’m just asking you to notice, to be on the lookout, and to be mindful about what you say to these couples.
It’s hard for someone who has not faced infertility to understand the depth of despair that it engenders. Studies have shown that people being treated for cancer are less distressed than people suffering through infertility.
We all go into adulthood assuming that we will be able to procreate when we want to. Infertility makes us feel profoundly defective, vulnerable, and sometimes ashamed.
The holiday season is supposed to be jolly, but almost all the Christmas imagery calls up images of happy families with children. I hope that you are one of the lucky ones, and that anticipating Christmas makes you feel spiritual, full of anticipation, and happy to draw closer to all the loved ones in your life.
I hope you have children of your own, or children you love, to spend Christmas with. I hope Christmas makes you feel good spiritually.
But for those infertile couples around you, bear in mind that Christmas can be a season of painful alienation. Family gatherings can bring up intense jealousy toward siblings who are lucky enough to have children. A walk in the mall to buy presents for loved ones bring them into sight of a huge line of children who want to sit on Santa’s lap.
Even going to church can trigger feelings of rage. One of my infertile patients told me that she was so angry at God for not letting her get pregnant that she felt like breaking all of the beautiful stained glass windows in the church.
So do me a favor this season: If you meet people you don’t know and you’re trying to make conversation, don’t’ assume that they have children, and don’t ask about their kids. Ask questions about something else, or talk to them about other interests of yours. If they want to tell you about their children or their plans for having children, they will tell you.
If you have friends or relatives who mention feelings of envy or anger toward others who are lucky enough to have children, don’t shame them about it. Don't tell them they are being selfish or spoiling the holiday.
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Empathize with how hard this must be for them.
If you do these things, you will really be manifesting the wonderful holiday spirit of peace, love, and harmony.
© 2021 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.