It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right?
Maybe for some people.
But when you are dealing with infertility, the holidays can be extremely difficult, especially when you see friends and family enjoying these special times with their babies, young children or while pregnant. You don’t want to make them feel guilty, but at the same time it can be hard to hide the pain you are feeling. Sometimes you wonder if you should just stay home and hibernate until the new year.
If you are experiencing difficulty this holiday season, here are some tips to help you navigate the season while being kind to yourself and your partner. Remember, this time of year can be difficult, but you do have some control.
1. Plan your outings. You don’t have to say yes to every party. And you don’t have to stay for the whole thing either. Sometimes just dropping in to say hello, have a drink, and eat a couple of hors d’oeuvres is enough. Drive yourself so that you can leave whenever you please. And be okay with just saying no. The holidays are hard for a lot of people. You won’t be the only one to turn down a party.
2. Prepare yourself for the dreaded questions. So when are you going to start having kids? Is there a baby in your future? I see you’re skipping the champagne– is there a reason? If you can expect these types of questions from family and friends this season, the best way to deal with them is to be prepared. Have a set response, keeping in mind that you don’t have to tell someone your entire medical history. Changing the subject is another great way to handle the situation. Simply say, “We’re hoping for a baby in the new year. What are your plans for 2018?”
3. It’s okay to avoid situations that you know will make you uncomfortable or emotional. If your sister/friend/cousin will be at a gathering with her newborn, resist the urge to just “be strong” or “be happy for her.” Your feelings matter, too. Sometimes the kindest thing you can do is make other plans. People will understand.
4. Make new traditions. There are a lot of fun things to do this time of year that don’t involve children. Seek them out with your partner or a friend. Go skiing, head south to a warm beach, take a wine tasting tour, hike a mountain, eat out at the most expensive restaurant in town (fondue sounds great!). Life is a series of moments, and although this might not be the moment you want to be in right now, it’s where you are. You might as well farm it for all the joy it offers.
5. Practice kindness. One way to combat sad feelings is to turn outward. Find volunteer activities where your time can be occupied helping others. Help run a toy drive, serve at a soup kitchen, or join a Christmas caroling group. If this just isn’t possible for you right now, that’s okay, too. In a season that’s all about generosity and kindness, don’t forget to be kind to yourself as well. It’s okay if this isn’t your best holiday season ever. It’s okay not feel “joyful, joyful.” Don’t judge your feelings or yourself. That’s a gift you can give to yourself no matter what your challenges.