Struggling with infertility during the holidays
The holidays can be a wonderful time for many people: extra smiles are everywhere, the spirit of giving takes over, and the chance to be close to and celebrate with family is something many people look forward to.
For those struggling with infertility, however, the holiday season can be the most painful time of year.
Imagine being reminded each time you check the mail and see a Christmas card with gorgeous family photos that you yourself haven’t been able to start your family.
Think of all those commercials that showcase the season’s hottest new toys…for the kids you don’t yet have.
Then there are the holiday get-togethers. All the office parties where your co-workers all discuss how stressed out they are with the extra Christmas performances at school and trips to see Santa and crafts they are sick of. You try to smile and stay positive, but you only wish you had those problems to complain about.
Lastly, the family Christmas dinner. Where your not-so-subtle family members pester you and your partner, asking when you are finally going to start your family. Or maybe more uncomfortable is the family that knows your struggles with infertility, so they awkwardly dance around the topic, only making it more obvious.
There’s no perfect way to handle this time of year for those experiencing infertility. But here are some suggestions that may help. We at Bundoo completely acknowledge that everyone’s journey through infertility is different and that what might work for you is deeply personal, but these may be worth a try.
You don’t have to partake in all the holiday traditions. You might feel obligated to jump in with both feet to all the usual holiday celebrations: Black Friday shopping, family outings to the mall to see Santa, big parties with tons of kids, or trips to visiting family out-of-state. Pick and choose what feels right for you—without any guilt.
Make your own traditions instead. If you’ve decided to skip a family dinner or vacation, sitting at home and stewing about it is no better. Why not start your own tradition that feels right for you? Maybe it’s a weekend stay at an isolated cottage, or a day spent on the couch in your PJs watching bad Christmas movies. Whatever it is, make sure it brings you joy.
Prepare your response. It is unfortunately inevitable that someone will ask about your baby plans or why you haven’t given your parents a grandbaby yet. Prepare what you will say in advance so you aren’t caught off guard or have to stumble through your response when you weren’t expecting it. There is no right or wrong way to discuss infertility—you decide the narrative, and you also are allowed to say you don’t want to talk about it if that is what you prefer.
Find someone you can talk to. Having a friend, therapist, or family member with whom you can discuss fertility struggles is always a good idea, and that holidays that is even truer. Having an ally you can call at 10 pm to unload how an insensitive comment made you feel can be a lifeline.
Practice gratitude. With infertility, there is so much hurt that can surface. Practicing gratitude can be a way to routinely help you see the good things in your life. Every day, jot down five things you are thankful for—even something as small as your morning coffee counts! Studies have shown this makes people happier, and you deserve happiness.
Find a way to give. Sometimes the best way we can feel better about ourselves is to help others in need. Find a charity that resonates with you and give. You might give your money or your time—whatever feels right.
Support each other. In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it can be easy to lose focus on your partner and what he or she may be feeling, too. Be sure to set aside time to check-in and support each other.