The holiday season can set a level of expectations often based on family traditions, many of which revolve around other family members who have children. If you’re a couple or an individual who is struggling with the emotional effects of infertility, the holiday season may be an incredibly difficult time. On top of meeting certain family obligations, like shopping for gifts, preparing meals, or welcoming out of town guests, we have to continually deal with media images and advertisers reminding us of how joyous this time of year is supposed to be. For those of us struggling with effects of infertility, this time of year may be less than joyous, and we may feel less inclined to celebrate anything.
However, you’re not alone in feeling this way. And while it may be impossible to make your feelings of loneliness and sadness disappear, you can do certain things to make this season more tolerable and, yes, pleasurable.
Invitations to holiday events that revolve around children may be especially tricky. Don’t try to masquerade your feelings and pretend that everything is okay. Be honest with yourself about how certain situations or events could make you feel. Understand that you’re in control of your plans. If you know that specific events will be too much to bear, then don’t attend. These events are supposed to be enjoyable, not fraught with emotional torture.
If you’ve been putting off that trip to Hawaii with your significant other, this may be the ideal time to do so. Taking a vacation could be the best escape from reminders of your infertility. It can be a chance to explore something new and connect with your partner. Being in an entirely new environment will pay handsome dividends for your mental health. So take a vacation!
While everyone else is running around getting their last minute shopping in, we often forget about those who are less fortunate. Opportunities for volunteering abound during the holiday season.
Get out there and help someone else out. Volunteer at your local food bank or animal shelter. Many of us who desire children have a deep longing to care for others and volunteering offers an excellent way for us to fulfill that need. So look for volunteering opportunities near you this holiday season.
We mean this in a good way. Now is a great time to do something for yourself. Whether it’s something as simple as reading a good book, getting a massage, or taking those dance lessons you’ve been putting off, now is the perfect time to do something good for yourself. You deserve it!
Also, by being gentle and loving with ourselves, we’re able to establish more positive feelings that will show in other areas of our life, like our relationships.
Reiterating back to our first point, we can’t stress enough the importance of being truthful with yourself. Being honest with yourself means acknowledging and not denying your feelings of hurt, anger, or sadness. You have these feelings. Acknowledge them, own them, and don’t try to escape them through destructive behaviors like heavy drinking.
Find a trusted support network. It can be some of your closest friends, family members, a therapist, or finding a support group where you can share your feelings in a safe and comfortable environment.
Share your feelings and talk about them. If you’re unable to speak to anyone immediately, be sure to write your feelings down. Journaling can help put some perspective on your emotions as well as your expectations. You may realize that it may be time to re-evaluate your expectations and be open to options that you didn’t consider before.
The physical and emotional effects of infertility are very painful, but fertility treatments and options have come a long way. They make it possible for families who never had a chance of having children to have them through third-party reproduction like egg donation.
Most importantly, never give up! It’s a bumpy road, and it may never go in a straight line, but the journey will be well worth it.