Joy to the world! Unless you are suffering from infertility on holidays. We’ve all read the blogs around the internet – “Holidays can be exceptionally stressful during the holiday season” – Ya think? Infertility is stressful regardless what time of the year it is. However, even in the best scenarios and circumstances infertility paired with the holiday season often times equals stress with a capital “S”. We put pressure on ourselves. Last year at this time we were thinking that “next holiday season we’d have our own bundle of joy to ring the new year with” We have pressures from the outside – Many of our family, friends and co-workers have families including children — they are busy enjoying the season while we feel much like a 5th wheel when all we want to do is belong with all the other people with children. It’s no secret that even though many feel that holiday miracles happen especially during this time of the year – you can’t make infertility, the pain that goes with, or those feelings just go away miraculously. However, there is one thing you can do and that’s called “SELF CARE” – make a plan, a preemptive strike if you will – by planning in advance you will not only do yourself a favor, but a favor to those around you. First things first. Admit to yourself that not only may the infertility on holidays be uncomfortable this year – they might just suck. And that’s okay. If you need to wallow, cry, be angry, and yell this is UNFAIR, just do it. Getting in touch with your inner person and embracing your pain is the very first step in coping.
- Don’t over commit yourself. That means you do not have to accept every single holiday party invite that comes your way. This is a time when you should be super selective about which invitations you are going to accept and commit to go. And it’s a no-brainer – if it’s a party with lots of families, babies, and pregnant women – just say “No thanks” – you never ever have to say yes.
- Whatever you do – don’t feel bad, guilty, or pressured into participating with the myriad of family events. This is a time that you need to be focused on yourself and your partner if you have one. This isn’t a time to be a people pleaser and please your family. Your family is going to understand.
- Got friends that are childfree? Hang out with them – make plans to go somewhere warm and tropical. Or maybe have them over for a holiday dinner instead of doing the whole big family thing – or find a nice restaurant that caters to adults.
- If find that you can’t get out of family obligations – double book yourself. Make sure you have more than one thing to do when you visit your family. It will give you an out if things get too intense – especially if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed being around your young nieces, nephews and cousins. You might think about arriving just in time for the main event (opening gifts, having dinner etc…) and then dining and dashing – that’s where the double booking idea comes in to play.
- Do the things you like most – if you love to entertain create that fabulous incredible meal. The one that is so labor intensive your friends and family will still be talking about in July! If you are a reader stock up on a lot of great books, or go to the beach and walk until your legs fall off!
- Travel – get away from it all – if you have a partner what about a ski weekend? Or a beach in Fiji? Mexico? Tahiti? Or even a chalet with just the two of you.
- How about your own family traditions? If you are partnered you are a family – you can create a ritual or a tradition that shows the love you have for one another with or without kids.
It’s important to share your feelings. If you were diagnosed with Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease or any other kind of illness you’d receive family and friend support. This is no different. Pretending that there’s nothing wrong – isn’t healthy. Don’t do it. Its okay to feel. You might be asking yourself “How in the world am I going to deal with those painful, difficult and sensitive questions?”
- A good rule of thumb – decide ahead of time what you will and won’t answer. Or you might want to rehearse your answers a head of time. It’s okay to create boundaries – they are healthy. Being caught off guard is the worst. And really you do not have to disclose the details of your reproductive life – it’s your business not anyone elses.
- When asked a question that you might find difficult you can always reply with
“Why do you ask?”
- Surround yourself with support – RESOLVE, the AFA, INCIID, PVED, friends, family, online support. And those who already support you make sure you tell them you appreciate them – and that they are helping. We can’t have enough love or support in our lives.
One of the best ways of working through a painful or difficult time in one’s life is by giving back. You don’t necessarily have to give back in the arena of infertility. However, you can volunteer at a hospital, nursing home, soup kitchen, helping the homeless, visit any someone who you know is bedridden, elderly or chronically ill. When you spread your smile and good wishes it’s contagious. Keep your mind open – you might be one of those who has an infectious laugh, who’s bubbly in spirit, and makes others feel good around you – don’t close yourself off. Embrace those positive feelings. Experience something new – while you might not be feeling upbeat you can create great energy by helping others. DON’T: Close yourself off to positive feelings and new experiences. You may find that you have a special ability to make others feel good, even though you’re not feeling upbeat yourself. Here’s where we talk about our partners (or close friend) It’s important that you both stay in tune – and on the same page with each other’s feelings and needs. This is a time when you should be able to say anything to one another – validate each other’s feelings. Make it a safe place to acknowledge you are angry or sad. Make it a safe place to cry. Lean on each other. Infertility is a big deal – it’s been defined by many as a major life crisis. Reboot with each other at least twice a day – that means a 60 second hug, a pat on the back, or some special thing you two do together that is just special between the two of you. A random text of I love you throughout the day goes a long way. Most importantly don’t get so caught up in yourself, or the holidays, or life that you forget about one another. You need each other – but now more than ever. This isn’t a time to isolate from your partner—it’s just the opposite. It’s time to cleave to one another, lean on each other and face the holidays together.