The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration and love. When you’re struggling to get pregnant, however, the so-called happiest season can be one of painful reminders instead. Yet there are still ways you can find joy in the holiday season while dealing with infertility.
Do Things You Enjoy
The holiday season is supposed to be joyous, so why not do only things that bring you joy? Take the time to do seasonal activities you love, like relaxing by the fire or baking dozens of cookies. Try to remember the things you loved about the holiday season before infertility reared its ugly head, and focus on those.
You can also use the holiday season to take a trip with your spouse. Even a weekend “staycation” at a nice local hotel can do wonders. If you really want to go big, a romantic getaway to a tropical destination will get your mind off holiday sadness and give you some great memories. Or just tell everyone you’re going out of town and then hole up in your house with a weekend-long TV binge and plenty of snacks!
Just Say No
There are some holiday events you know are going to be painful, such as children’s plays or family events with tons of kids. It is OK to decline when you know the experience will be hard to get through. Don’t feel guilty about declining; your friends and family will understand. If they don’t, they will get over it! You don’t owe anyone an explanation. You need to focus on protecting your mental and emotional health this season, however that looks for you.
Prepare for Questions
If you do attend a family get-together, be prepared for some intrusive questions. They are going to be difficult and insensitive most of the time — and usually the person asking doesn’t realize it. Again: you don’t owe anyone an explanation. The power is in your hands, and only you get to decide what to share. You can simply say you’re not ready to start a family, and leave it at that. If you’re comfortable with a little more transparency, you can opt to explain to friends and family what you are going through. Also, show your appreciation to loved ones who are supporting you during this difficult time.
Do a ‘Digital Detox’ During the Holidays
Social media can feel like a landmine at any point in the year, but especially during the holiday season. Take a hiatus if you can, or at the very least, only check social media when you feel that you’ve got the emotional bandwidth to handle a post that might upset you.
You can also do the same with the holiday cards you get in the mail: feel free to save them all in a stack for later, or just unceremoniously toss them into the trash. No one will ever know!
Spend Time With Your Spouse and Friends
You don’t have to rely on family celebrations to make up your holiday season. Focus on spending time with friends who are also childless, or the friends who are supportive of you and can get a babysitter for the night.
Also, you want to stay in tune with your spouse’s feelings during the holiday season. Share your feelings and allow your moments of sadness to flourish in the safety of each other’s company. At the same time, keep supporting each other and reminding each other to find joy where you can.
Lean On Your Support System
Infertility support groups can be valuable sources of solidarity and comfort; don’t underestimate the cathartic power of venting to an online friend who knows exactly what you’re going through. You can find a comprehensive database of infertility support groups — both in-person and online — via the RESOLVE website here.
One of the best ways to experience pure, soul-cleansing holiday joy is to volunteer. You can volunteer at holiday events that help the homeless or the elderly. Being able to help others who are also struggling this holiday season — even if it’s in a different way than you are — will bring everyone more seasonal joy.
Focus On the Future
This is the hardest step for most people to take. Try to focus on a future where the holidays can be the time of joy you are desiring. Embrace positive thinking and allow yourself to hope during the magical season. This might even mean you embrace all the kids running around the house and spoil them rotten, imagining a time when you can do this with your own children. Being positive about the future and giving back will bring you a better mindset and holiday happiness.
Depending on your personal infertility journey, some of the steps may work better for you than others. Remember, taking care of yourself is most important. If that means missing out on some usual holiday traditions, allow it. Make new traditions, find joy in other places, and remember that the holidays are for everyone — not just families with children.