Different people cope differently

Dealing with social situations that involve children can be one of the most difficult challenges for those struggling to conceive. Baby showers are particularly tough, but family gatherings and events with new mothers can be equally upsetting. You will hear comments that are a painful reminder of your situation. Also, you will encounter all sorts of people, including those who pity you, judge you, or think they can "solve" your problems by offering advice you've heard a million times before. How you manage these situations can influence your relationships with your family and friends.

It is important to have a strategy for social situations. What you don't want to do is:

  • Avoid all social encounters indefinitely. This is not sustainable in the long-term, as it will lead to feelings of isolation
  • Attend events, but hope that no one brings up the topic of pregnancy children. It will happen sooner or later, and you need to be prepared.

Different people need different strategies to help them cope with these situations as well as possible. It is important that you work out which strategy is the best one for you. Consider the scenario below, and pay particular attention to the three different coping strategies used by Chloe, Lisa and Sasha.

Scenario: A baby shower

Chloe, Lisa and Sasha have all been invited to attend a baby shower for a friend. All of them are struggling with conception and are nervous about the event. However, each of them will handle the situation differently based upon what they know about themselves, and what have learned from previous events.

Chloe

Chloe knows that the event will be very upsetting for her, and that she will feel terrible about it for days. She knows that if she goes it will make her feel worse than if she doesn't go. She decides that it is not the right thing for her to do at the moment. She explains honestly to her friend why she has decided not to go, and her friend understands completely (like Chloe knew she would). Chloe sends a gift to show that she cares and makes plans to catch up with her friend for coffee the following weekend.

Lisa

Lisa knows that the baby shower activities will make her feel really upset, but she really wants to see all of the people who are going, and knows that she will feel bad if she misses out on the event entirely. She decides that she will drop by briefly toward the end of the party, after all of the presents have been opened and the games have been played. That way she will be able to say hello to everybody without having to endure the majority of baby-related activities.

Sasha

Sasha knows that she always feels terrible if she doesn't go to a social event. She hates missing out on special occasions, and loves seeing all of her friends together. She knows that the baby shower will be a challenging situation for her. However, she decides that she would feel more upset missing out on the party. She decides to go, but has an "exit strategy" to leave early if she begins to feel upset.

What would you do?

Assume you have just been invited to a baby shower. Which of these strategies do you most closely identify with? If none, what would you do in this situation?