Answer from: Sarah Banks
It can be really difficult if you’re in a big group of friends or work with a big group of women in an office, as I did. It feels like everybody around you is pregnant or has children. I think you become much more aware of it when you’re trying yourself and going through treatment. It can be difficult if all your social circles have started having children because the things they do change; they maybe don’t go out as much in the evening, which was when you would spend time with them. They start doing more baby showers; there are more children’s parties, there are more playdates. Things where you maybe feel you might get excluded from. Friends may not invite you because they don’t want to upset you. You may not want to go along because you don’t want to feel triggered; it can be very difficult.
You become very aware that people around you have children. So maybe confide in a close friend about how you’re feeling and saying it’s very difficult. You don’t want to be excluded from plans but sometimes you may find it difficult, but you’d still like to be invited. Or maybe say can you do things where you have a baby-free catch-up. Ask your friends if you can meet up and go for coffees or drinks where they don’t have the children with them to spend time with them as a group of friends, and you haven’t got the triggers of them being there with their children. Think about how you can do things differently with them. If you feel comfortable telling them what you’re going through, that can be easier because you can explain why it’s hard for you, and I’m sure they’ll understand. But look at how you can do things differently with them and spend time with them, so it’s away from the children; it’s less triggering. Or maybe think of your social circle, if there’s anybody who doesn’t have children or doesn’t want children or has older children, that you could spend more time with. Arrange to do more things with them, maybe replace some of the things you used to do with one group of friends with another. So somebody you go to the gym with, somebody you do a hobby with, or somebody you work with.
Think about the different social circles you’ve got and who else you could spend time with so that you’re not constantly around those reminders. Avoid social situations that are hard for you. One thing that always comes up is baby showers. They’re really difficult when you’re trying to conceive, and I had to go to a few, and they’re really hard. Friends who understand what you’re going through will understand that it may be difficult for you. If you don’t feel that you can cope with going, maybe make excuses about why you can’t and don’t feel guilty about doing that. It’s important to protect your emotional well-being. If you’ve said yes and it gets to the day, and you don’t feel up to it, you could always say that you’re not feeling well, and that’s the reason for not going. If it’s a close friend, they would hopefully understand why you don’t want to go and why it would be difficult. You could suggest doing something separately with them, so there isn’t the big group focus on babies and everything that goes on in baby showers. Celebrate with them separately.
Family parties can be quite difficult if there are lots of children and lots of family members ask questions about when you’re going to start having a family. It’s okay to miss those things; if you don’t feel that you are up to it on a certain day, just make your excuses. If you don’t feel people would understand, make an excuse about why you can’t go and don’t feel guilty about that. If there’s a bigger event like a wedding that is more difficult to avoid, you could go to the important parts of it and then excuse yourself from the other bits if it’s going to be too difficult. So think about how you could do that and, most importantly, be kind to yourself. It’s really normal to feel like this. So many people in my support group talk about this. It’s really normal to feel like that, so don’t feel guilty that you’re not happy for your friends or find it hard to be around friends who have children. It’s normal, try and do what you can to create less triggering situations for you and understand that it’s alright. Maybe find a support group where people will fully understand and not judge you for some of those thoughts.
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