Linda Lewis Griffith

Got ‘baby envy’? Here’s how to cope with it

The Miami Herald

You’re ready to start your family. But after months of trying to conceive, there’s still no baby on the way. Worse yet, your girlfriends, co-workers and cousins are all expecting. Your former BFF posts daily photos on Facebook of her adorable newborn and toddler.

After the last baby shower you attended, you cried for two hours. Seeing women with baby bumps elicits waves of anger and resentment.

You’re certainly not alone in your predicament. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 12 percent of American women of childbearing age have difficulty getting or staying pregnant.

Women are considered to have fertility problems if they have not been able to conceive after 12 months of trying (or six months if they are 35 years or older).

Baby envy is a natural response to your grief and frustration. But it may actually make the situation worse.

First, you feel miserable. You’re simultaneously sad and outraged.

You feel ill will toward other women who are pregnant as well as their babies. It’s not an emotional state that you’re proud of.

Plus, it causes stress for your partner, who hopefully wants a baby as badly as you do. It also alienates you from friends and family members who could serve as a support team during your quest to have a child.

Still, the heartache of baby envy is as real as the empty room you long to convert into a nursery. Managing it successfully will have a huge impact on all areas of your life.

Linda Lewis Griffith is a local marriage and family therapist. For information or to contact her, visit lindalewisgriffith.com.

Coping with baby envy

  • Acknowledge the presence of baby envy. Notice when the telltale signs of sadness, agitation or unexplained moodiness arise. Simply admitting, “Ah, that’s baby envy,” is a huge first step.
  • Be kind to yourself. You’re going through a stressful time. Give yourself permission to rest and have fun. Free yourself of unpleasant and unnecessary responsibilities.
  • Quiet your thoughts. Your mind is working overtime thinking such negative thoughts as “I should be pregnant,” and “This is awful.” Take a few deep breaths. Relax your hands. Quietly tell yourself, “This is where I am right now. Everything will be OK.”
  • Find a buddy. Team up with a woman struggling with her own infertility. You’ll be able to share the latest information and test results and cheer each other up when the news is grim. Be forewarned: She may get pregnant before you do. Hopefully she’ll be hypersensitive to your plight.
  • Block unwanted posts on Facebook. Consider unfriending people who post an endless stream of bump photos and baby announcements. You don’t need to be exposed to that now.
  • Be around babies. Find a new mother you can visit who lets you hold her baby. Offer to babysit for a friend or sister-in-law. You’ll get great practice and fill a void in your heart.
  • Focus on the positive. You may not be pregnant, but there’s still plenty of good in your life.
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