The holidays aren’t necessarily easy for any adult. They are chaotic, expensive, stressful and can trigger a myriad of negative emotions depending on your relationship (or lack thereof) with particular family members. Throw infertility into the mix – which seems to catalyze the nosy questions, well-meaning “suggestions” and sympathy from people who popped out kids without any problems.
Then there are the gaggles of cute children – painful reminders of all you pine to have – that the holidays seem to drum up in all their shiny holiday clothes and twinkly-eyed abandon. It’s enough to make you crazy.
Redirect Your Inner-Infertile Grinch With One (or more) Coping Mechanisms
Instead of going through the holidays in a state of denial (which feels good at the time but catches up with you later) or turning into the ultimate Grinch, try out one or more of these tried-and-true coping mechanisms to find your way back to a more peaceful balance.
- Be honest with friends and family. Don’t try to fake it. At best, you’ll wind up in a pile of tears at the holiday dinner table, shocking the family because you, “seemed so cheerful and unaffected this year…” Use honesty and clear communication to let the traditional holiday crowd in on how painful this time of year can be for you. Be gentle, but direct, regarding exactly what you need – and don’t need – from them. Tell them to not talk about it, or to talk about it, to please refrain from giving advice you don’t need or want, and/or any other requests that will make the holiday gatherings easier and more enjoyable for you.
- Send an informative email. Not interested in having to repeat the same story a gazillion times? That’s what group emails are for. Send out a mass email letting relevant friends and family members know that while you appreciate their concern and love, your infertility and/or fertility treatments are off limits for holiday conversation. Therefore, here’s everything you want to know that we feel like sharing…etc., etc., etc. It’s a great way to make sure everyone’s on the same page and it gets it all off the table for them as well. Sometimes couples forget how awkward it can be for family and friends who can never tell when it’s appropriate to ask questions and when it isn’t.
- Take a holiday from the holidays. Maybe this is the year to skip out on holiday traditions and do your own thing – even if it will hurt some feelings. You are worthy and deserving of taking care of your own emotional needs – even if the care required stretches beyond what the fertile people in the family can understand. What do they know about the road you have traveled? Absolutely nothing, because only those who have walked the walk can truly understand. Take a staycation or a vacation – or whatever else you need. Giving yourself a break might be the best holiday gift you’ve ever given.
- Volunteer your time. Local non-profit organizations are always eager to find extra helping hands this time of year. From Baking Challah bread to adopting a senior or feeding a low-income family, there are opportunities for every interest. Helping others is a wonderful way to forget about your own worries and put your good talents and fortune to work. Plus, it can also help to put things in perspective, helping you to feel more genuinely grateful for the things you do
- Connect with an infertility counselor. Did you know there are marriage and family therapists (MFTs) and others who specialize in counselling individuals or couples struggling with infertility? In many cases, the therapists have been down the same path you’re walking, so their sympathy is not feigned. Working with a counselor or therapist who specializes in infertility can provide valuable tools that will help you cope with diagnosis- and treatment-related feelings, as well as the stress and rigors of life in general.
Do you find it difficult to get through the holidays as the result of your infertility struggles? What are some of your coping mechanisms? Please share your thoughts, ideas and support with our NCFMC followers in the comment box below.