Valentine’s Day might be considered the “official” day to show your love to your partner but for couples facing infertility, recapturing romance can be challenging. The stress of treatment – and all it involves – can feel exhausting, affecting your sleep and mood. Not to mention the need to schedule sex.
So, what can you do this Valentine’s Day to move past the focus on fertility? Flowers, candy and jewelry can help, but first, remember why you fell in love and want to have children together. No one will turn down tangible displays of affection expressed through red or heart-shaped gifts, but true romance is also about the small, unexpected gestures that show you care.
Couples dealing with infertility face major stress, worrying about whether and when treatment will be successful, plus the financial pressures of paying for treatment where there’s no coverage or inadequate coverage. This is a major test for any relationship and challenges you in a way few other experiences can. Consider this Valentine’s Day your opportunity to focus on each other in kind and caring ways and let the positive experience spill over to other days. Remember, a strong couple makes the best parents.
Focus on being a couple
Make Valentine’s Day about just the two of you. Between monitoring ovulation, scheduling sex, and going to appointments, trying to get pregnant may seem a full-time job, crowding out “us” time. Find time to focus on what you enjoy as a couple and carve-out time at home or out. Some couples create a weekly ritual that caters to each other’s needs – fixing a favorite meal, offering a massage or taking a walk out in nature. Taking time to focus on your role as a partner and not as a future parent can help you both relax.
Celebrate, go on a date
Celebrate Valentine’s Day! Enjoy a holiday that focuses on couples. Most of the major holidays center around family and children, making them painful for couples trying to have a baby. This holiday gives you special permission to look for ways to please your partner and create some romance. Celebrating your relationship doesn’t have to be expensive. Be creative. Do make sure your Valentine’s Day date – and those that follow – don’t include any talk of infertility.
Be spontaneous, be intimate
There may be times when treatment affects when you have sex. Or, stress or hormone shots mean you’re just not in the mood. That’s when you may have to remind yourselves that sex is not just about getting pregnant. Remember what made you want to be together in the first place – before the idea of becoming parents. What sparked your chemistry? Think about revisiting places or activities where you experienced that spark before you even thought about having children. Be spontaneous, suggest or arrange something unexpected to create intimacy. You can find ways to be physically intimate without sex. Consider taking a weekend trip out of town, or just stay overnight at a local hotel. The important thing is to relax and enjoy time together.
Communication is key
Although you’re part of a couple, each person may be experiencing or coping with infertility in different ways. For example, infertility may affect your self-esteem. Besides being candid and supportive, rekindle romance by reminding your spouse that you find them attractive. Compliments are always appreciated – think of how you feel when you receive one and be sure to reciprocate. You can share your feelings out loud or through your gestures – try leaving love notes for each other. It may seem a small thing to do, but it is likely to have a big impact.
You can find more Valentine’s Day tips about finding romance in trying times from Genesis Fertility here.
Even celebrating a holiday that does not focus on children, Dr. Ruben Alvero, Director of the Women and Infant’s Fertility Center in Providence, Rhode Island, cautions “Well-meaning friends and family may offer uninformed advice that can be hurtful, for example telling you to “just relax.” You can let them know that infertility is a medical condition and you’re working on it with experts. Remember, you are each other’s rock, so always be there for each other.”
Ok, go ahead and get a gift!
Everyone enjoys getting the traditional gifts expected on Valentine’s Day. Candy and flowers are fine but as you face the challenges of infertility together, make a gesture from the heart that celebrates the two of you.
Your romantic gestures need not end on Valentine’s Day but can live on – even as you continue your fertility journey. After all, once treatment is successful, you’ll have to work at romance again once you have an infant–who later becomes a toddler and then a teenager!