Trick or Treat. An Infertility Patient's Guide to Coping With Halloween

If you think that the only treat that could make you smile would be to see a positive over-the-counter home pregnancy test, and that you are the recipient of the world's worst trick ever i.e., being diagnosed with infertility, read on. And, if you are reading this blog, then you probably are anticipating another holiday without being pregnant or having an infant in your arms.

While other people are debating whether to purchase a store bought costume vs. making one themselves, you are dreading this upcoming Halloween. You notice people standing three deep in the candy aisle of your local grocery store while determining if the bag of assorted mini candy bars is superior to those that they usually purchase vs. confections they wouldn't eat on a bet (and therefore wouldn't gain weight if any were left over). This sight fills you with horror, and not the kind that results from encountering a ghostly apparition.

While your friends and neighbors contemplate dressing their children as Hannah Montana vs. Tinkerbell, Superman vs. Spiderman, or Count Dracula vs. Sponge Bob Square Pants, you want to hide in a vampire's coffin and not come out until November 1st. While new parents are taking 100 pictures of their babies' first Halloween (and that is before they put them in their strollers to walk outside), you are hoping if you turn out your lights, people will be duped into believing no one is home. Having a banal holiday that included children would be a treat for you. However, you find yourself scared, and not by the Mephistophelean costumes displayed in store windows, but rather the demon of doubt regarding your chances for conception.

Wanting to shun the little upturned faces who sweetly say "Trick or Treat" in tiny, barely audible tones is not abnormal for those having difficulty conceiving. But stuffing your face in order to overdose on sugar, become comatose, and pass out on your sofa is overkill and not a realistic or highly desirable option. So what alternatives can help you get through this holiday?

You may wish to purchase a cauldron size pot, fill it with candy, and affix a note explaining to Trick or Treaters that they are on the honor system and should help themselves, leaving you free to go to the movies. Furthermore, you may wish to take advantage of Halloween falling on a Saturday this year, and make reservations to dine at an upscale restaurant, where children are not welcome. Due to the current economy, I have found there are numerous last minute travel deals offered on the internet, so planning an inexpensive weekend away from it all shouldn't be too difficult. Additionally, you may wish to attend a Halloween party thrown by someone from work, as adults will be in attendance but not children. If you yourself choose to throw a Halloween party, try to select a venue away from home and the neighborhood kids. Sometimes avoidance is a good method for handling sorrow and loss, so don't minimize its efficacy. Since this is a holiday for children, don't pick this Saturday to be brave and face your demons (regardless of their size). Feel confident that there are many different ways of building a family, and if that is your goal, you will achieve it one day soon.


Judith E. Horowitz, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Broward County, Florida. Dr. Horowitz is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, is a certified sexual therapist and Diplomate of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, and is also a Diplomate of the American Board of Medical Psycho

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