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A child in a cowboy costume rings a doorbell while trick-or-treating with another child, who is dressed as a lion.

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Halloween, is it a treat or just a cruel trick if struggling with infertility?

Fall festivals. Halloween. Trunk or treating. All things pumpkin. Fun for some; sad for many. Within the infertility community, we often talk about preparing for family gatherings and holidays while struggling with infertility or pregnancy loss. But, Halloween and other fall festivals, can be huge emotional triggers for many also. Think about it. Candy, costumes, parties, and decorations litter big box stores, grocery stores, front porches and lawns, social media, and even email inboxes. For individuals grieving their inability to conceive, pregnancy loss, or the loss of a child, all this well-intentioned fun can trigger resentful, angry, and painful emotions. Whether we, those grieving, acknowledge this about ourselves or not, the emotions are very real.

If the previous lands with you, know that feeling these emotions can be natural. Also, know that there are steps you can take to protect your heart and your mind. If you are invited to an event where children may be dressed in costumes to celebrate, consider whether going is right for you. You have the power and right to politely decline. And the best part is that you don’t have to give a reason. Instead, try using one of the following approaches: 

The You’re So Kind Tactic: “Oh, doesn’t that sound fun! You are so kind to include me. I won’t be able to attend, however. But be sure to pass out some extra candy for me!”

The I’m Too Busy Tactic: If skirting past the invite while not exactly proving your excuse doesn’t come naturally, you also have the option of, ‘being too busy.’ Because maybe you are. And maybe taking care of your mental health is a priority and therefore important enough to schedule time for self-care that just happens to be at the same time as this event. “Hey, yes, actually I have a schedule conflict, but I can’t wait to connect after.”

The Before or After Tactic: For another option, try limiting your exposure while still showing your support by showing up early to help decorate. You can hit the road right before the first guest arrives. Or offer to bring the host their favorite post-party coffee the morning after. 

The Honest Trust Tactic: But, if the event is too special to miss or too important to the host to not attend, maybe their invite gives you the perfect opportunity to share your infertility struggle with them.

“Hey, thanks for including me. I‘ve been wanting to talk to you about something that I am working through. You know how important you are to me, so I hope that you will hear me out as this is quite hard for me to share. But I think that coming to your party might be a little hard for me right now. You see, I very much want to have a child. I have been trying for quite some time and recently had a miscarriage. I don’t share this to ask for your sympathy, but I share this because I care about you, and I want you to know that I think if I saw your amazing kiddos, in perfectly fun costumes, having all the fun they should, it may make me super sad and ruin the spirit of your night. So, if you don’t mind, I’d like to bow out for now. It doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be included in the future, but just means not right now. Does that make sense?”

Keep in mind: Family-friendly parties and gatherings can be difficult for some, particularly if struggling with family building or infertility. If you find yourself triggered by children events, making small adjustments to how to respond and plan for these events can be quite beneficial.

To learn how Encompass Fertility can help, contact Nurse Noël, Noel.Boatwright@encompassrx.com.