During the holiday season, coping with infertility can become more difficult. Catching up with family and friends who have had children while you’ve been trying to get pregnant can hurt.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 12% of women in the US struggle with getting pregnant, so many people know the pain that comes with infertility during the holidays. Unfortunately, the season can’t be canceled but things might be a bit easier if you follow some of these strategies for coping with infertility during the holidays.
1. Make a Plan on How to Handle Questions
It’s a good idea to come up with answers to questions you are likely to hear. You can even rehearse them. How you choose to answer is up to you. You can be honest without revealing details or you can be open about what you’re going through. It’s understandable if you want to keep things private, but people are often very supportive and compassionate.
2. Prioritize Your Favorite Activities
Don’t feel obligated to participate in all traditions if you are uncomfortable or if you just don’t have the energy to deal with them. Instead, choose only the activities that make you happy and that are unlikely to trigger bad feelings.
3. Feel Free to Opt-Out of Things
Following the theme of the last tip, don’t feel bad if you feel like you should skip a party or event. Be polite when declining, but prioritize your own mental and emotional health.
4. Find People Without Children to Celebrate With
If being around children is a particular sore spot for you, seek out friends or adult family members without children. That way you can enjoy yourself without having to worry about interacting with a child or hearing stories and anecdotes about someone’s children. It’s hard to see the bright side when you want something so badly, but take advantage of being able to stay out late or go somewhere without extensive planning.
5. Filter Social Media
People love showing pictures of their babies and growing children on Instagram and Facebook. If you are struggling with infertility, this can be tough at any time of year. At Christmas, there might be even more posts centered on children.
If you don’t already do so during the rest of the year, the holidays are a good time to curate your feed. There are settings on most networks for you to mute or unfollow people if you don’t want to cut the cord completely. Or, consider taking a social media break altogether, you might find that is just what you need.
6. Be Picky About Parties
Sometimes parties are a minefield for uncomfortable conversations and invasive questions. Just attend the events you feel up to. You can also make a quick stop if you are worried about appearances. Another way to cope is to throw a party yourself. It’s more work, but if you want to celebrate, it’ll be worth it so you can set the tone and the guest list.
7. Develop a Plan for Opening Cards
Social media may be more prevalent, but a lot of families still send holiday cards. Many cards will feature pictures of the entire family in festive gear, or maybe only the children. So, if looking seeing those photos makes you feel bad, don’t make yourself open them. You can still acknowledge that you received the cards and let the sender know you appreciate them thinking of you.
8. Take Care of Yourself
The fertility journey is trying even at times when there is not extra societal and familial pressure to be happy and have a good time. Coping with infertility during the holidays can be even more difficult. So, make a point of scheduling time to take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest and spend quality time with your partner. If you want to indulge yourself with a treat or gift, go for it. As long as you’re sticking to the medical advice of your fertility specialist, do things that bring you comfort.
9. Acknowledge Your Feelings
You are likely to experience many emotions related to infertility. Those may include guilt, anger, jealousy, hopelessness, and injustice. Unfortunately, you will feel these emotions even if you try to push them aside. It is healthier to acknowledge and express those feelings as you have them so things don’t build up. Maintain good communication with your partner, because they will be feeling similar things. And don’t berate yourself for not enjoying your time with family and friends or not getting into the holiday spirit. All of your feelings are valid.
At Carolina Conceptions, we know that dealing with infertility can be emotionally trying, especially during the holiday season. If you have questions or concerns about infertility and possible treatment options, call (919) 782-5911 to make an appointment.