Secondary infertility doesn't get a lot of press these days despite the fact that as many as 3 million couples are experiencing it at any given moment. Coping with your own emotions, managing doctor appointments and healing from physical loss(es) is consuming, and we haven't even discussed the laundry, the dishes, the food shopping and the cooking! With so much on your plate already, maintaining your relationship with your toddler or preschooler can be an added challenge when infertility enters your world. You might feel your motivation, energy and/or ability to maintain a strong connection with your living child(ren) slipping under such distress.
When you're feeling badly physically or emotionally, you may not know HOW to strengthen your relationship with your toddler or preschooler.
Connecting with your little one
Here are 3 easy steps to bond with your littles while navigating secondary infertility:
1- Schedule it. Plan a time of the day that you have five minutes to spend 1:1 with your child. Pick a time when both you and she are at your best, typically (avoid the notoriously challenging times like before nap or bed). Make sure you can completely dedicate yourself to your child for the entire 5 minutes.
2- Set yourselves up for success. Give your child a choice of 1 or 2 (depending on their age) open ended toys to pick. What's an open ended toy? One that has no rules to play by. No winner. Think coloring, blocks, Legos, animals, cars, dolls...
3- Play. Be intentional. Let them know you're present. How?
- Describe what he's doing in his play. Say something like, "you're putting the green Lego on top of the yellow one," or "you're building a tower."
- Copy her play. Say,"I'm stacking the green lego on top of the yellow one too, just like you, or just do what she's doing. Copying is the greatest form of flattery, no?
- Praise him. Find something you like about the way he's playing (ignoring what you don't like as long as it's not dangerous). Say, "I like how gently you're playing with the Legos," or thank him for sharing the Legos with you.
These three steps are a good place to start if you're having difficulty maintaining your connection with your little one during this difficult time. In five short minutes you can let them know that you are really paying attention.
If you are struggling emotionally with secondary infertility, I encourage you to reach out for support. You are not alone! If you are in San Diego, I can help. I maintain a private practice in Bankers Hill where I specialize in helping families struggling with secondary infertility, parenting and other areas of maternal mental health. Please call me for a free phone consultation to explore how I can support you and your family.