If you are having trouble getting pregnant or you are undergoing infertility treatments, the holidays can be extra stressful for you. Getting ready for family gatherings, cleaning your house, cooking, and unpredictable schedules that come with the holidays increases anxiety for most people. So why does infertility take the tension to a new level?
A common behavior exhibited by people experiencing infertility is isolation and the avoidance of social situations in which pregnant women or small children will be present. Obviously, this can be difficult during the holidays. People in your family may not understand what you’re going through or recognize that being around children may be challenging when you are trying so hard to get pregnant. You will also be conversing with people at social events, cocktail parties, and family dinners that you have not seen in a while. These people will likely want to catch up and will ask you questions without realizing they are sensitive. You will hear “When are you going to start having babies?” “Are you thinking about having a child?” “Why are you waiting so long to start a family?” These questions could raise your anxiety level or at the very least make you uncomfortable.
If you are currently in the process of infertility treatments, there are appointments and tracking to keep up with. This can be difficult to explain to employers and coworkers during the holiday period when work schedules and events are often unpredictable. Furthermore, the dates of medication or scheduled intercourse may be inconvenient.
So here are my tips for how to get through the holidays when you’re struggling with infertility. You can still enjoy time with family and friends if you make the effort to implement these strategies to take care of yourself and your partner.
Plan in Advance What You’re Going to Say:
As you’re gearing up for the holidays in traditional ways by making your shopping list, getting out your favorite recipes, and decorating your house, you need to understand and be aware of how infertility will affect your life this season. It does not have to ruin your celebrations and good spirit, but if you ignore the situation things are more likely to result in hurt feelings and unexpected emotions. Take some time to think ahead, explore your emotions, and plan what you will say. There will be lots of events and get-togethers over the next few months, so talk with your partner about how much you feel comfortable sharing about your situation. You both can practice exactly what you want to say.
Choose Wisely which Events to Attend:
Even though you have been invited to a plethora of social events and parties, you can give yourself permission to not attend all of them. If you don’t feel that talking to certain people or you think being around children will be overwhelming, it’s ok to politely decline the invitation. You can also decide how you want to participate in various gatherings. You could arrive in time for dinner, but skip the children opening presents if you’re not ready. Don’t feel guilty about saying no or finding creative ways to partake.
Spend Time Doing Things You Enjoy:
The holidays may bring up a lot for you. It’s a time to celebrate with family, and your dream of making a family has been put on hold. While I do not recommend pretending that nothing is wrong or ignoring your feelings, don’t let the struggle keep you from enjoying pleasurable things in your life. Decorate your house, plan a special meal with your partner, continue with your hobbies, or start a special family ritual with your partner that you want to continue year after year.
Stay Tuned In to your Partner’s Needs:
Take this stressful time as an opportunity to connect with your partner at a deeper level and don’t forget about their needs. Set aside time to share your feelings and what has come up for each of you during the holiday season. Allow both you and your partner to feel and express whatever emotions are coming up. Don’t judge those emotions, just accept what they are and try to understand where they’re coming from. Acknowledge the accomplishment of simply getting through the holidays and reward yourselves by doing something together.
Call on Your Support System:
While some people may not have any idea what’s going on with you, hopefully you have a support system in place. Reach out to those close family members and friends that are there to listen and help you. If you are part of a Resolve support group, don’t forget to contact those members. Remember, they are going through a similar experience and would appreciate hearing from you as much as you enjoy talking to them. You can also schedule an extra session with your therapist or counselor, if needed.
Think about Taking a Break from Treatment:
This may seem strange to you, because you know that treatments are time sensitive and that every cycle counts. However, the demands of the season can make treatments difficult if not impossible to be successful. What if you are scheduled to have sex on the day you are staying over at your in-laws? That could be cringe-worthy. Also, the medications that make up certain treatments affect hormone levels, which increase your vulnerability and make it even more difficult to control your emotions. This could be a recipe for having an unexplained outburst over the dinner table. Talk about it with your doctor and partner to decide what the best course of action will be.
If you are facing infertility, understand that you are going through an emotionally taxing journey and go easy on yourself. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to please others during the upcoming holiday season. Get in touch with what you’re going through, prepare and plan, and use these strategies to help yourself have a great holiday and continue healing at the same time.
I specialize in working with couples facing infertility and pregnancy loss. My practice is located in the Clear Lake area of Houston, Tx. Call me (832) 827-3288 for a free phone consultation. Please reach out to get the extra support that will help you manage your emotions, begin the healing process, and take steps to being able to enjoy your life again.