The holiday season is approaching, and while traditions may change given the current pandemic, navigating the holidays while dealing with infertility can be especially challenging as you deal with your own grief of another holiday season without your desired family size. A season filled with holiday pregnancy announcements and family and friend gatherings can be triggering for so many. What starts out as a harmless question of when you’re going to have children may lead to uncomfortable, painful, and emotional conversations. Below we talk about some ways to navigate the holidays while dealing with infertility.
It’s OK to say no to gatherings
COVID aside, it is okay to say no to gatherings if you know that you’re going to be in situations with other friends or family that may cause emotional stress. Don’t feel like you need to say yes to every gathering or every party just because it’s happening. If you know that seeing your nieces, nephews, or close friend’s children will be triggering for you, then don’t feel like you have to attend. Or if you want to attend, consider limiting the amount of time you are there. Maybe you let the host know you are leaving after appetizers or that you have prior commitments, but ultimately, do what you need to care for your well-being.
Plan your responses, but don’t feel like you have to share
Family and friends may think they are asking a very harmless question about when you are having kids, but those questions can unfortunately bring up a lot of emotions if you are struggling with infertility. If you do find yourself in a situation where someone has asked you a sensitive question regarding your future family, consider having pre-thought out answers to some sensitive questions. You may even consider rehearsing your answers with your partner or close family member or friend.
However, don’t feel like you have to share anything if you don’t want to. Ultimately, your reproductive health and family desires are your business and no one else’s. If you do choose to share more detail, be prepared for possible unwanted advice and consider responses to how you may handle that.
Take care of yourself
Take care of your emotional and mental well-being. Whether this is exercise, reading, meditating, or another hobby you enjoy, make sure that you are engaging in activities that make you feel good, that bring you joy, and that help to ease any anxiety or stress you may be dealing with.
Talk to your partner, close family/friends or a therapist who can provide emotional support
If you find yourself starting to become anxious or emotional at the thought of spending the holiday season with others, try to acknowledge and share your feelings with those closest to you whom you trust so you are not isolated. If that thought makes you uncomfortable, you may also consider speaking to a therapist who specializes in infertility to share your feelings with and work together to develop a plan to navigate the holidays.
Consider starting your own family traditions
If you have family traditions that trigger unpleasant emotions, consider starting your own traditions. You may choose to invite others, but by starting new traditions, you may feel like you are giving yourself some control back during the holiday season.
Take a break from treatment
If the thought of going through another fertility treatment in the middle of the holiday season fills you with dread or anxiety, you may consider taking a month or two off to allow yourself the space you need to care for yourself emotionally, mentally, and physically.
Your emotional and mental well-being is as important as your physical health. Make sure to practice the self-care you need as you go through this holiday season. Additionally, stay safe this holiday season and follow CDC guidelines when it comes to gatherings. Wear a mask, practice social distancing when possible, and remember to wash your hands correctly and frequently!