3 ways to get through the holidays when you’re struggling with infertility
The holidays can be one of the toughest times of the year when you don’t feel complete.
All that sparkle, cheer and celebrating somehow becomes a reminder about your infertility and struggle to conceive. To make matters worse, well-meaning family and friends are always asking that question: when are you going to get pregnant? Just one moment like that can be awkward, embarrassing and painful; a whole string of moments like that can make for a very difficult holiday season.
But there are things you can do to make the holidays more tolerable this year. Reproductive Medicine Associates of Florida (RMA-FL) has put together a list of three ways you can make the most of the holidays – and a few ways you can answer those hurtful pregnancy questions. Here are a few things you can try heading into the New Year:
Make a pact with your partner to deal with the holidays together.
While it’s tough to be at the same place as your partner all the time, there is a good chance you’ll be together at this season’s holiday parties and gatherings, allowing the both of you to act as a team in awkward moments. Make a plan together – who will you try to avoid? Who might you tell about your struggle? What time should you leave parties? Is there a code word you can agree on that will alert the other you’re in a conversation you want to leave? Making a plan with your partner – the person who can relate most to your struggle – will not only make you feel less alone, it will strengthen your bond with your partner and give you backup in the moments you need it most.
Come up with a few ways you can answer those pregnancy questions.
Having a few back pocket responses to the ‘when are you going to have kids’ question can make a difficult situation a little easier. If you have a few short responses handy, you can pick whatever one best fits the situation or your mood. For example, if it’s a lighthearted conversation with a group of friends, you can respond to the ‘when are you starting your family’ question with humor: we haven’t gotten past the ‘trying’ part yet – it’s too much fun! If the conversation is a little more serious, you can respond with a more direct answer, like: when the time is right – we’re trying to figure it out now. And if you are with a small, intimate group you feel comfortable with, you can tell the truth (in any level of detail you want). For example, you can say: actually, we are having trouble getting pregnant. And we’re not alone. One in eight couples in this country are unable to get pregnant on their own.
Allow yourself to feel sadness – so you can feel happiness later.
Although the infertility journey is hard every single day, it doesn’t mean you can’t feel moments of happiness or joy, especially around the holidays. One of the best ways to allow yourself to feel happy is to process your feelings of sadness when they arise. So if you need a minute or two alone in your car before you go into the holiday party, take them. If you need to share a difficult conversation you had at work with a friend, do so. If you need a big cry after a particular event, movie, or emotional episode, take that cry. Suppressing your feelings will only make things worse this holiday, and cause you to miss out on things that could, ironically, make you feel better.
No matter how the holidays go, don’t forget that you are just a few days away from a new year, a new beginning, and a new chance at family. There’s hope in that.