Coping with Infertility Around the Holidays
Infertility is never easy- it is often one of the greatest struggles an individual or couple may face in their lives. When you are experiencing the pain and emotions that come with fertility struggles, these feelings tend to worsen during the holiday season. Whether it is one of your aunts pestering you about when you will have a baby, or feeling sad (or guilty and stressed about feeling sad) when your loved ones are home with their children – it is important to know that everything you are feeling is normal. I like to remind each of my patients that nothing that is happening to them is their fault- including what is going on inside their heads. Here are some of my tips for dealing with infertility around the holidays, in hopes that you will still be able to find some of the joy that the holiday season is meant to bring.
1. Make Space for Your Emotions
The holidays are notoriously difficult for those struggling with infertility, which makes it so important to make space for your emotions at this time of year. What does that look like? It might mean planning some time to relax and be alone after a family dinner. Or, it might mean excusing yourself from a family event to take a moment to breathe and collect yourself. Keeping a journal is another way to track your feelings and get certain thoughts off of your chest in a more private way. Check in with yourself and make space for you as often as you can.
2. Confide in a Family Member or Friend
We all have that one friend or family member who just gets it. If you are comfortable, open up to them about your struggles with infertility. Recruit them to be your buffer during the holidays. This should be someone that can easily change the subject if the table talk turns to babies, and someone who will have your back and make sure your emotions are respected. If you are comfortable, share your journey with other close family members. This may help you expand your support network, which will have benefits beyond the holidays.
3. Set Goals for Next Year
Are you the type of person to always have a plan? Sometimes that personality trait can make the journey of infertility even more frustrating because you aren’t able to follow your plans for your life just yet. However, it may be helpful in December to map out some plans for the upcoming year. Obviously being able to get pregnant is high on your list – but what else can we add to it? Is there a trip you have been dying to go on? Are there friends you’d like to catch up with? Do you want to read more? Make some plans and goals for the coming year that aren’t fertility-centric to help push you through the holiday season and look forward to everything you want to accomplish.
4. Have an Escape Plan
Sometimes we might think we have it all together, and then it just takes one off-color comment at the family dinner table to bring us near tears. Maybe it is a pregnancy announcement from a family member or someone asking when you will have a baby, but there are plenty of unexpected moments that you should be prepared for. Have an escape plan ready – whether it is leaving the gathering (an “I don’t feel well” should suffice) or going outside to get some fresh air – make sure you have a plan in place. This will help you navigate these emotions as soon as they come on.
5. Remember- It’s Okay to Bow Out of Holiday Plans
Infertility is tough and so are the holidays. If you are not feeling up to it, it is totally okay to skip out on holiday plans. It is not worth your mental health to be forced into situations that could make you feel worse. Of course, sometimes a holiday event can be a great distraction, but it all depends on how you are feeling. If you need to bow out of holiday plans, treat yourself to something nice. Go see a movie, take a bath, or participate in an activity that honors your emotions. Trust in yourself!
If you are struggling with infertility around the holidays, one of the most important things to remember is that you are not alone. Talking to your doctor and close loved ones about what you are going through is one of the best ways to remind yourself that there are lots of people on your side. Always remember that it is okay to struggle during the holidays, but that you can make it through. If you have any questions about infertility, during the holidays or otherwise, please reach out to me and I will do my best to answer whatever is on your mind.