For many couples the holidays are a joyful time off from work and an opportunity to catch up with loved ones. Unfortunately, for the one in eight couples facing infertility the holidays are filled with constant reminders of their struggle. Not many people would associate commercials of families opening Christmas presents together or invitations to holiday pageants with “death by a thousand cuts” – yet this is the reality for infertile couples.
If this is the case, know that you are not alone and that there are strategies to help you get through it.
Know What to Say
“So, when are you having kids?”
The dreaded ‘kids question’ used to be a minor annoyance — a little too forward and prying. When you find out you’re infertile, it feels more like being backed into a corner. You have to dance around the truth or share a very personal aspect of your life, both of which can be uncomfortable.
Discuss with your partner about the best way to respond to this question. Once you are on the same page, it will no longer feel like the burden to answer is placed on you. Instead, you’ll be able to give an answer together that both of you are comfortable with.
Don’t Feel Bad About Saying No
Between parties, family gatherings and shopping, the holidays are a busy time. Keep in mind that it is also supposed to be a time to unwind and take care of yourself. There may be times when the idea of attending a holiday pageant or seeing that cousin who has six kids is just too overwhelming.
Remember that you don’t have to do everything with your family over the holidays. Don’t feel bad about saying no to some activities. If you know that going to one of these events and seeing others’ children or hearing another pregnancy announcement will bring you down, opt to do something that will put you and your partner in a good mood instead. Whether it’s an ice-skating date or a movie night at home, take this opportunity to make some memories and just have fun. Alternatively, consider making plans with couples or friends who do not have children.
Prepare for Situations Where You May Be Around Children
If you re-watch the same scary movie, it becomes less scary each time because you know what’s coming and can prepare yourself. Similarly, if you know that you’ll be attending an event at which there will be kids, get into the mindset that you will not dwell on negative thoughts or emotions that it may bring about. You’ll be surprised by what a difference overcoming these negative thought patterns can make.
Consider Taking a “Fertility Break”
If you are not currently on a cycle or any kind of fertility schedule, consider taking a few weeks off from fertility treatments. Try to let the thoughts and decisions that accompany fertility treatments fade to the back of your mind. Take these weeks to remember what is important in your life and be thankful for the wonderful things you already have. Allow your mind to decompress from the stresses associated with trying to get pregnant so that you can resume your fertility journey with a fresh perspective and renewed energy in the coming year.