People say the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year. Those people, clearly, are not dealing with infertility.
The holidays can bring a host of stresses like prying questions, pregnancy announcements and dinner tables packed with children, all of which can make the occasion hard to bear.
Even worse? The haunting thoughts from the previous year of, “Well by next year I’ll definitely be pregnant. By next year, I’ll be sharing my pregnancy announcement with my family.”
You deserve just as much joy and peace as anyone else during the holiday season. Read on for 7 ways to cope with the stresses holidays may bring during a fertility journey.
1. Just Say No
Saying no is a form of self-care. Give yourself permission to decline invitations to holiday parties, events or other traditions that might be too much to handle right now.
Whether it’s a small cookie exchange or a large family gathering, say no to events that don’t feel emotionally safe. Only you know your triggers, so try to anticipate and prepare for them.
2. Make Your Own Traditions
Don’t wait until you have a baby to make meaningful holiday traditions. You can create your own traditions right now; whether it’s just you and your partner or you and some (fertility-sensitive) friends.
Whether it’s wreath-making, movie-binging, baking new cookie recipes or trying some fun cocktails, there’s no shortage of unique, festive traditions that don’t revolve around kiddos.
3. Don’t Feel Pressured to Share
If you decide to attend a holiday party or family gathering, don’t feel pressured to share your fertility status.
Whether you told your family last year and they’re asking for an update or they just casually ask you, “So…when are you having kids?” remember that you don’t owe your story to anyone. You decide what you share, who you share it with and when you share it.
4. Irish Goodbye When Necessary
If you’re feeling triggered or overwhelmed after your cousin announces her third pregnancy during Christmas dinner, it’s ok to leave the table. Take a bathroom break. Go for a walk. Call your BFF. Or maybe just fake a migraine and leave early.
You gotta do what you gotta do. Have an alibi and escape plan in your back-pocket, just in case.
5. Get Off Social Media
If you’re feeling particularly sensitive and one surprise sonogram pic could send you over the edge, maybe just go ahead and delete Instagram, Facebook and Twitter from your phone altogether. No need for a dramatic announcement; just take a short break.
Instead, use that time to make handmade gifts, journal, read, watch movies, go on walks or do other things that fill your cup.
6. Take a Break from Treatments
Some people decide to press pause on their IUI or IVF treatments between November and January. This can be a smart decision if you’re not in a rush and you’d prefer to take a breath and just enjoy your eggnog and peppermint mochas.
Taking a holiday break from treatments can alleviate some of the pressure from the “Christmas Miracle” narrative and can also give you some time to reconnect with your partner, your family and yourself.
7. Find Your Pineapple People
Find extra support from other fertility warriors who understand what you’re going through. Whether it’s an online support group, a fertility mentor, a private FB group, connect with other people who speak infertility. You don’t have to go through this alone.
What are your favorite tips for making it through the holidays while going through infertility? Mulled wine? Finding a new therapist? Whatever it is, make sure you are listening to your emotional needs and protecting yourself above all else.