The holidays are typically a mix of emotions for people. Many love what they represent, and the people in their lives that it brings together. However, for some, the holidays bring nothing but anxiety and stress that are already present to a completely new level. Especially when it comes to dealing with infertility.
So whether you are in the midst of your own journey with infertility, or you know someone who this applies to, I’ve put together a list of some ideas to help you all navigate and/or understand how to cope with surviving the holidays:
1. Make yourself a priority.
If the thought of attending certain parties or functions increases your anxiety level, it is okay to decline the invite. Politely of course!
2. Have an “escape” plan.
If the function you are attending becomes too much to handle (aka there are lots of children, you are surrounded by women, there are just too many prying people) make sure you and your partner have communicated a way to slip out before it reaches a level that you can’t come back from.
3. Have responses at the ready!
We all know that when family and close friends gather, the questions start to fly. And while we know that they are coming from a well-intended place, they are still inappropriate. SO, be prepared ahead of time with a response to save you from the shock of all the “when are you guys going to start having kids” questions. It will save you from being snarky (been there!), or melting down (been there too!).
4. Pamper yourself.
You know that massage you have been dying to get? Or that getaway you’ve been dreaming of taking? Now is the time to just DO IT! With all the added pressures this time of year brings to your already overwhelming plate, take the time to focus on yourself for a bit. Get away with your partner. It really is a great time to make your daydreams a reality.
5. Surround yourself with people who truly understand you and what you are experiencing.
Infertility can be extremely isolating. It is such an intimate journey, and not many people may know or understand what it is that you are going through. Instead of big parties and functions, maybe this is the year to wrangle things in, and have a small, intimate gathering so that you feel safe and secure with your feelings and without pressure to act a certain way.
6. Be reasonable.
Yes, the holidays bring anxieties and all the feelings to the surface, but realize that it’s not all about you. (bear with me, I know that sounds harsh). While you are free to decline invites to parties and distance yourself, understand that life still moves forward. You can’t be upset if people still choose to go on and celebrate while you stay tucked into your safe zone. It’s part of life. You have to learn to be as understanding of others choices as you want them to be of yours.
7. Enjoy the season.
I understand that this can seem like the hardest thing to do, but try to sit back and remember what this season is all about. And give thanks for it. And embrace it. It might be difficult, but life moves quickly, and you don’t want to regret missing out because you are so focused on all that is not going according to your plans. This is a special time of year ya’ll. Try to remember that.
8. Allow yourself to feel all of the feels.
Now, don’t go and have an epic meltdown in front of everyone (see above ideas on how to avoid that if you skipped over, but allow yourself to feel it all. Without guilt. Without fear of judgement. It is okay to be upset, mad, frustrated, confused, envious, and angry. However, don’t let yourself live in that place. Take some time to sit on your couch, or tucked into your bed, with a glass (or bottle) of wine, a box of tissues, and have yourself a good pity party and tantrum. Then, pick yourself back up and move forward. Because it’s the only way to you’ll get to your longed for end result anyway.
Now, I know that this is not an extensive list in any way, shape, or form. However, these were things that I had to do and keep in mind while we were in the middle of our journey. These are things that were on repeat in my heart and mind for years. They didn’t always come easy. And I didn’t always follow my own advice. But when I did, I was able to make it through it all with my head held a bit higher, my heart protected, and joy in my world even though it was hard.