For some of us, the holidays are a reminder that we’re ending and entering yet another year without baby. We know that, intellectually, we should count our blessings (yes, #grateful); but let’s be honest—having fertility treatments and infertility on the brain is tough. At times, it feels all-consuming.
While people are toasting with egg nog this season, you may be thinking about, well, your eggs! This is normal, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
So, here are a few ways to cope with uncomfortable scenarios that may pop up during the holidays:
Problem: People Will Ask When You’re Having Kids
Don’t you love this one? It’s amazing that people still haven’t learned.
It may be tempting to say: “Thank you for the suggestion. I’ve never thought of that!”
Solution: Share Only What You’re Comfortable Sharing
You may decide to joke about it: “Great idea!” Or, you may decide to be vague: “Maybe one day.” You may also decide that it’s simply nobody’s business. If you’d rather not answer, you can say something like: “That’s kind of personal but don’t worry, you’ll hear if there are any updates.”
Problem: People Will Be Full of Advice on How to Get Pregnant
You can say: ‘I appreciate that you’re sharing advice and trying to help, but it’s the holidays, and I don’t really want to think about it. Let’s have fun tonight!’If you do share the truth that you’re hoping to have kids or have experienced infertility, be prepared, because some well-intentioned (and sometimes not so well-intentioned!) aunt or random friend of the family will offer advice on how to get knocked up. This person will tell you how it happened with her, her friend’s friend, or that person she met at the nail salon.
Generally, this is not really helpful. Sometimes advice invalidates the tough process we’re going through or feels like the person sharing it is blaming you for your infertility.
Solution: Be Open, But Set Boundaries
There is a chance that the person speaking will share something valuable. Perhaps you’ll hear of a doctor with an out-of-the-box approach or a new treatment.
However, if you don’t hear anything that’s helpful, it’s okay to gently but firmly set a boundary.
You can say: “I appreciate that you’re sharing advice and trying to help, but it’s the holidays, and I don’t really want to think about it. Let’s have fun tonight!”
Or, you can simply say, “Thank you for sharing,” then steer the conversation onto something else.
Problem: You’ll See Babies and Kids Everywhere
Suddenly it may seem like everyone and her mother (intentional pun) is with child. And since kids are off school during the break, they’ll be everywhere. For some, this may trigger upsetting thoughts about infertility or your experience so far.
Solution: Allow Yourself to Feel Whatever You’re Feeling
A good exercise is to be present to what you’re experiencing and then decide that you’re not going to get consumed by it.
One of my favorite mantras is, “I’m sad – and I’ll be okay.”
And, if you can’t bring yourself to go to the 15th party with kids, it’s okay to skip it. Practice self-care.
Problem: You May Feel Super-Reflective and Extra-Emotional
This isn’t necessarily a problem. The new year usually brings a period of reflection as we try to embrace what we want to have and create in the upcoming year.
If you can’t bring yourself to go to the 15th party with kids, it’s okay to skip it. Practice self-care. However, it may feel problematic when you realize that you can’t easily put on a happy face during the holidays. It’s not uncommon to feel disappointed that another year, perhaps, has gone by without you fulfilling your dream or goal of having a kid(s).
Solution: Carry Your Sunglasses & Your Journal
One of the best things I’ve done since starting fertility treatments is to carry oversized sunglasses everywhere. I look like Jackie O. on the subway home from the doctor’s office each time I’ve had a disappointing cycle or upsetting news.
I swear, sunglasses are a secret weapon! You can cry in public without anyone really noticing.
I’d also recommend journaling your feelings as you are reflective about your experience. Don’t just think about what you want to do in the new year—think about who you want to be.
Do you want to be more patient with yourself? More resilient? Healthier?
Whatever comes up, write it down. Once you know what you want to be, you’ll know what to do.
As much as possible, use the coziness of holiday time to practice self-care—whether that means enjoying long bubble baths and/or attending adult-only, wine-filled holiday parties. The good news is that the new year may bring new possibilities. Cheers to that!
Andrea Syrtash is the founder and editor-in-chief of pregnantish. She is a relationship expert and coach regularly featured on national TV shows including Good Morning America and The Today Show, and in Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Women's Health magazines. She's the author of five popular books including He's Just Not Your Type (And That's A Good Thing) and Cheat On Your Husband (With Your Husband). She's passionate about helping people live and love authentically. For more, visit andreasyrtash.com
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