8 ways to get through a difficult day with infertility
People with infertility are used to hearing all about positivity. Well-intentioned instructions like, “Keep your hopes up!” “You have to believe it can happen,” and “Stay positive!” are flung at us left and right.
But forced positivity when we’re having a hard day is no more helpful than thinking happy thoughts when we get a paper cut or twist our ankle. We can’t wish the pain away.
With infertility, it makes sense that we don’t always feel great. The goal isn’t to ignore the hard feelings. Instead, we can find ways to accept the difficult feelings and find tools to help us handle them and not let them take over our lives.
So the next time you’re having a hard day with your infertility, try some of the things on this list to help you get through it.
1. Accept that today is hard.
Feeling good feels good; it makes sense that you’d prefer to have a happy day. But the reality is, today feels hard. Maybe you got some bad news from your doctor, another friend announced their pregnancy, or you’re just plain sick of the neverending uncertainty. These are tough things to be sitting with. Let yourself recognize that you’re not okay today, and that it’s okay to feel that way. If you tend to beat yourself up about having a bad day, you could find a mantra like “Infertility is difficult, it makes sense that I struggle” to tell yourself.
2. Make space for your feelings.
Today might be the busiest day ever, when you have deadlines at work and dinner plans with friends and seven loads of laundry to do. But whenever possible, your mental health comes first. There might be things you absolutely have to do today, but anything that doesn’t have to happen can be canceled or moved to another day. It will be hard to process your feelings if you don’t make any time or space for them. You don’t have to clear out half your day - even just a short moment with yourself can make all the difference.
3. Bring yourself into the present moment.
In order to not have your emotions overpower you, bring yourself into the present moment. One of the most efficient ways to calm our nervous system is by taking a few deep breaths. It helps your body relax and puts your mind at ease. Try breathing in counting to 5, holding your breath for 5 counts, exhaling for 5, and holding for 5 again before the next inhale (this is called “box breathing”). You can also try some breathwork activities in Tilly's app - they're adapted for common infertility challenges. Breathing is a great tool for getting through difficult moments, and preparing you to work through tough feelings.
4. Work through your emotions.
The only way to truly get rid of a difficult feeling is by actually feeling it. We need to move through our feelings and let them express themselves if we want to heal and grow from them. There are so many ways to process feelings, from doing something creative to deep breathing, from talking it out to working out. There’s no shame in sitting on the floor and crying until you have no tears left. In fact, that might be just what you need to feel release and catharsis. Journaling is also a great way to externalize your internal world, and work through your feelings. You can journal about what has triggered you, what your feelings feel like, what you need, what you’re grateful for, or anything else that helps you gain perspective and understand what you’re experiencing. There are lots of guided journaling sessions Tilly's app.
5. Consider what you need.
Now that you’re in a journaling mindset, it’s time to focus on what you might need today. Do you need space, community, love, fun, sleep, nature? Considering what you need, and making sure you get it, isn’t selfish. Our needs are not frivolous or extravagant. Our needs are basic requirements to get us through the day. But so many of us aren’t used to even figuring out what we need, let alone pursuing it. Today, on this difficult day, go after what you need.
6. Find someone to lean on.
You might prefer to cry alone, and that’s okay. But at some point, sharing your pain with someone can do you a whole world of good. It could be a friend, your partner, a family member, a therapist, someone from an online fertility forum, or anyone you trust who can give you some time today. Whether you need someone to talk things through with, cheer you up, or let you know you’re not alone, asking someone to support you is a huge investment in your well-being. They’re not there to heal you; it’s about being in community and not carrying the impossible weight of infertility on your own.
7. Do something that brings you joy.
Remember, we’re not here to bury the difficult feelings in positivity. But feeling joy alongside our pain can make it more bearable. It can be something really simple, like eating your favorite candy bar, listening to your favorite song, or curling up in a cozy blanket. By giving yourself something that makes you smile or feel warm and fuzzy, you’re showing yourself that you are taken care of. That there are still good things even when there are lots of bad things. That's important to remember.
8. Look into the future.
Remind yourself that this part won’t last forever. The not knowing, the failures, the seemingly endlessness of it all - at some point, you will move on from all of that to another part of life. No matter which way this fertility journey takes you, there will come a time when you have certainty about your infertility. When you’ll know a little bit more about what your future looks like (though of course we never really know for sure), when your days won’t be filled with tracking and medications and doctor’s visits and medical bills. One way or another, you won’t be in this part forever, and you will get through it.
About the author
Maya Maria Brown, M.A., is an infertility mental health expert. She has a master’s in Counseling Psychology, and has worked with individuals and couples on infertility and relationships. She also has personal experience with infertility and is currently in treatment.
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