Any holiday celebrated throughout the end of the year can be an emotional juggernaut when you’re coping with infertility.
What’s often called “The most wonderful time of the year,” couples and individuals struggling with infertility can be a painful reminder of what you’re missing most from your life. Truth be told, you’re probably finding that infertility leaves you sad, longing for a child to accompany to family celebrations and experiences year-round.
However, it seems that throughout family holidays, dinners with friends, company celebrations, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or any other celebration, these joyful times can simply be a sad reminder of what you’re missing from your life.
How to cope with infertility during the holidays
Feeling sad is something you should never be ashamed of, or feel guilty for. Rather, simply understanding and observing these feelings that surround you during the holiday season.
Understand that it’s completely normal to feel sad (and even angry) that you and your partner are experiencing fertility issues. It’s important to acknowledge those feelings and elicit the support of your partner to help get through this month (and the months ahead). Allow yourself to feel the sadness and frustration.
While these feelings will pass, it’s still important to prepare and plan out how you’re going to cope with infertility.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are some approaches to coping with infertility during the holidays that may help minimize the stress and sadness you may be feeling.
1) Plan ahead of social interactions
The holidays are often times of reuniting with loved ones, catching up with extended family members, and spending time with your partner. Because this time often brings less stable schedules, more time off work, and other It is inevitable that you will run into new parents, pregnant couples, and kids of all ages during the holiday.
It’s completely acceptable to be selective about accepting invitations to parties and holiday celebrations, especially if there might be Before you find yourself face-to-face, plan how you will react to the situation.
Method 1: Avoidance
For some, it will invariably involve avoidance. One of the go-to strategies many of us have when it comes to a difficult or unpleasant situation. If that works for you, do not be ashamed. It is a matter of mental health. Here are some tips that will help you navigate those encounters. For some potential encounters, you can simply say “no”, and don’t go. Where you are obligated to attend plan on arriving late and leaving early. Or maybe, just hold an adult-only party
Method 2: Encounter Management
Plan ahead on how you will respond to those questions that invariably come from Aunt Emma. (Doesn’t everyone have an Aunt Emma?). You know the questions--When are you going to make me an aunt? Are you ever going to have a family?
Or, a personal favorite--Is your husband shooting blanks?
The only thing certain about the holidays is that these types of questions will come. Conventional gender roles and societal expectations have established Think up a few clever quips that will both confuse Aunt Emma and stop the questions.
For example, when asked, “When are you going to have a baby?” Your reply can be: “We’ve been trying for a dog, but are not having any success.” Or, you could take the more serious route and say: “That’s a rather personal question, don’t you think? Anyway, how’s your new job, how much do you make again?”
Method 3: Make Peace with infertility
Alternatively, maybe you are that special person who simply loves playing with children. If this helps, you are in luck as undoubtedly you will find nieces, nephews, and even cousins you did not know existed to hold and play with.
2) Lean on your Support System
Just as anything else, learning into your support system is critical to maintaining a happy, stable life. You don’t need to face the holidays alone, and many more people are in the same boat than you might think.
During the holidays (and all year), struggling with the infertility blues is a normal experience to have. When you’re struggling with this, it’s time to find and elicit the support of your network.
First, talk to your partner. While they might not express their sadness the same as you, it doesn’t mean that they are not affected. Talk to your partner about your feelings and the encounters with specific people or settings that you’re anticipating the most.
Develop strategies with your partner about how you will work together if you do find yourself in this situation so you’re prepared in advance. For example, when faced with an uncomfortable question from family members, your partner can simply speak up and change the subject.
You can also talk to your partner to speak to you privately to remove you from the encounter or environment.
Fill your time throughout the holiday season with friends who might be more sympathetic and understanding of the emotions you’re experiencing due to the inability to conceive. While not everyone will understand or empathize with this, understanding which of your friends are likely to be empathetic and nurturing can go a long way in feeling comfortable and accepted.
During the holidays, try to make plans with other couples or single friends who are simply not at the stage of their life where they are looking to start a family. It is highly unlikely they will ask or care when you are starting one. Additionally, you can invite these friends to appropriate events you’re anticipating, from work parties to holiday reunions.
Your Family Members
If there’s one thing certain about the holidays, it’s that you cannot avoid family events. Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New years eve--the months of November to January bring family reunions, dinners, and photo ops more than the other 10 months in the year.
If you suspect a particular family member is likely to confront you at an event, take charge of the encounter. Call or meet up with these family members before the entire family gets together, let them know this is a very sensitive subject and ask them for their help.
You will be amazed at how effective Aunt Emma can be in deflecting questions that may be asked. More importantly, you can go to the event confident that Aunt Emma will not be lying in wait for you.
3) Take care of Yourself
It’s much easier to deal with the stress of infertility around the holidays if you are well-rested and healthy. Vince Lombardi’s saying “Fatigue makes cowards of us all” is absolutely true. Make sure you get plenty of sleep, drink enough fluids, and maintain a healthy diet during this time.
Plan to attend enough events throughout these months so you always have something to look forward to attending. If you simply fret about the infertility concerns others will have, it will begin to consume you. Love yourself and your body, and appreciate what you do have.
Don’t feel guilty if you need to skip a family event or party, because the priority here is focusing on yourself and partner as you navigate through this difficult time. Spend time doing what you like most, and remind yourself that you are a strong, resilient person who can overcome any obstacles in your path.
Consider stepping up your self-care game throughout this time of year, from taking yourself out to eat or purchasing a new product that makes you feel beautiful and happy. Remember to be kind to yourself, and focus on what you can control.
4) Plan ahead and research
We often feel better when we’re taking positive action to address whatever is on our minds. Cheering up other victims of the holiday blues can be rejuvenating and uplifting, so try to help others in need.
However, if you’ve been trying to conceive or get pregnant for some time and you’re ready to consider next steps with a fertility specialist or through assisted reproductive technology, do not wait until the end of holiday season before you take positive steps.
There are many different fertility treatments and options for individuals struggling with infertility, and many medical advances in ART has significantly increased the chances of a live birth and successful pregnancy. Once you begin this process, you may find your outlook on life will improve.
Taking concrete steps will help ease that sadness. After all, you have a plan to address your fertility struggles that you and your partner can look forward to.
If you would like to discuss your options and begin the process, please click on the link below to set an appointment with one of our fertility specialists. Now is the time to ensure that your future holidays will be ones that you can celebrate with your own family.
There are many factors to consider when facing infertility, and our fertility experts would be more than happy to discuss them with you at our Los Angeles fertility center. This will allow us to go over all of the fertility treatment options and outcomes, and what you should consider. We will help you make the right decision for your needs.
If you would like to learn more about gender selection during IVF and why it may be a good option to consider, we encourage you to contact our team of fertility doctors. You can reach Pacific Fertility Center by calling (310) 853-1440.
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