For anyone that may be in the middle of a fertility journey, or for someone that is seeking help from a Fertility Clinic, the holidays may be a challenging period of time to navigate.
Let’s start you off with some helpful coping mechanisms to ease the stress a little.
Eight Tips For Coping With Infertility During The Holidays
- Be Intentional, but Selfish
Behave in “selfish” (healthy selfish) ways that suit you and your spouse/partner. This means that the time you spend alone and/or with family and friends must be assessed and filtered through what is manageable for you in every instance. Take care in selecting events that will not be emotional triggering in any way.
- Remind Yourself That Treatment Is Temporary
Remember that treatment, although presently all consuming, has a timeline. You will not be an infertility patient forever. This too shall pass.
- Consider Your Obligations
Don’t feel obligated to visit family or friends, especially if they are not aware that you are in treatment. Try to limit the amount of stress that you are under in any of these situations.
- Leave If You Feel Uncomfortable
Go in with an emergency exit strategy. Remember that you are not obligated to be anywhere that makes you feel uncomfortable, and therefore you are free to leave at any time.
- Don’t Make Excuses
Don’t feel the need to explain yourself to anyone. Your holidays plans are structured to be beneficial for you, and you should always be able to make choices that support a healthy state of mind.
- Follow Healthy Guidelines
Try to follow healthy guidelines: Take care of yourself first and foremost. Eat wholesome meals, get many hours of rest and sleep, and use distractions such as movies, holiday light displays, phone calls to trusted and empathetic relatives and friends.
- Find Support
Research and participate in asupport group, contact one of our counsellors online or in-person, so that you are among people who understand and do not offer unhelpful advice or make insensitive comments
- Treat Yourself – Treat yourselves to something that inspires joy for you. This may be a play, a special restaurant, a mini-vacation or a massage, etc. This is one way to offer self-care through nurturing yourselves in a bite sized way. You deserve it.
Looking for support during this time?
Finding the Right Platforms for Support
The holidays can be a heavy time for those that are undergoing fertility treatment.
There is no shame in feeling sad or slightly detached from your friends and family during these times, and we are here to shed some light on ways in which you can make the most of the holidays while also feeling supported and understood.
Firstly- it’s okay to feel the frustration and sadness of coping through a journey like this. Allow yourself to feel these feelings. It’s most important to know that these feelings will pass.
- Your Partner – It’s important to have a strong support system. Your partner is the best support during this time, as you are undergoing the same experience, and you are able to share your fears and emotions freely with someone who can fully empathise.
- Your Friends – While not all of your friends may be as empathetic, it’s good to note that they may not know how to broach the topic, or are unsure as to how to offer support in the correct way. Learn which friendships trigger you emotionally and avoid spending too much time in the presence of friends that may make certain comments, ask too many questions, or engage in conversations that are not considerate.
- Your Family – Family in itself is a complicated beast. We all have different types of relationships within our families. Apply the same assessment with family as you do with friends – if there are any possible triggering factors that could occur during encounters with certain family members, then avoidance is key. Don’t feel forced to sit through any situation that may cause discomfort.
Not everyone has reliable support structures within their friend groups or families – in this case there are multiple sources for external support;
Finding the Best External Support Platforms
Many people undergoing fertility treatment may not feel the need to share their journey with friends or family, and in these situations external platforms for support may be necessary.
If you’re feeling isolated in your feelings or misunderstood by your personal support system, then no fear! There are many other avenues available for support and care.
How to manage and make preparations for encounters can could induce stress – Preparing yourself for Encounter Management
Have a discussion with you partner before any events, and decide on a strategy that will deal with any unwanted enquiries or comments.
Plan ahead on how you will respond to those questions that invariably come from an aunt (Doesn’t everyone have an aunt like this). You know the questions–When are you going to make me an aunt? Are you ever going to have a family?
Make sure that you’re prepared with some quick responses, some questions to fire back or a what to change the subject in a subtle manner. You’ll be surprised at how easily you can curb unwanted discussions.
Plan your Post-Event Recovery Time
If you already know that attending a family get together is going to have you emotional and upset, plan how you’re going to cope afterwards before the event. It’s much easier to carry out self-care practices if you’ve put them into your schedule when you’re feeling okay.
Some examples may include…
- Prepare a self-care routine to carry out that night—like a long, relaxing bath
- Put your best friend “on call” to know you’ll be calling after to talk or vent
- Schedule a massage for the next day
- Plan a visit to the gym, workout your frustrations
- Skip dessert with the family and decide together with your partner on a late night, post-event date – remember that these events only happen once a year
- Schedule an extra therapy session for the previous or following week
Don’t let infertility take over your life
Make sure you fill your life and your relationship with other things. If it seems like infertility is all that you discuss, set a specified time each day for the topic, and use the rest of the day to talk about other things. Do something fun over the holidays like taking a trip or taking a new class at the gym or the local art studio.
Make sure that you have distractions and goals apart from your fertility journey to focus on.
To Sum it All Up – Some Things to Reflect on and Remember
- Always take care of yourself – It’s much easier to deal with the stress of infertility around the holidays if you are well-rested and healthy. Vince Lombardi’s saying “Fatigue makes cowards of us all” is absolutely true. Make sure you get plenty of sleep, drink enough fluids, and maintain a healthy diet during this time.
- Don’t feel guilt – Don’t feel guilty if you need to skip a family event or party, because the priority here is focusing on yourself and partner as you navigate through this challenging time. Spend time doing what nourishes you most, and remind yourself that you are a strong, resilient person who can overcome any obstacles in your path.
- Plan ahead and research – We often feel better when we’re taking positive action to address whatever is on our minds. Cheering up other victims of the holiday blues can be rejuvenating and uplifting, so try to help others in need. However, if you’ve been trying to conceive or get pregnant for some time and you’re ready to consider next steps with a fertility specialist or through assisted reproductive technology, do not wait until the end of holiday season before you take positive steps. There are many different fertility treatments and options for individuals struggling with infertility and once you begin this process, you may find your outlook on life will improve.
Making Peace with Infertility
We’re not saying that this is easy by any means. Any infertility diagnosis is distressing and of course, goes hand in hand with a lot of sadness and frustration.
But as we know, the key to healing through any process is first ACCEPTANCE.
During the holidays, the lines between sadness and acceptance may grow a little blurry, but it is always vital to remember that there are numerous ways to approach fertility and multiple methods that may assist in helping to build your perfect family unit.
Not all families are created in the same way – and that is perfectly fine.
Embrace your journey!
We send you thoughts of peace and joy during this season of renewal.
With warmest wishes!