The holidays—that time of year filled with cheer, shopping, cooking and attending gatherings. Yet for those struggling with infertility, this season also brings a hyper-focus on the everyday reminders of that pain. The simple joy of seeing a child visit Santa or opening presents can be heart-wrenching when every child reminds you of your struggle with infertility.
12 Infertility tips to combat the holiday blues while struggling to conceive:
While surrounding yourself with family and friends during this season, it is important to take care of yourself. If you feel stuck, remember that the Aspire counselors are here to help.
Tip # 1 – Identify, Label, and Honor Your Feelings:
Your fertility journey is full of emotions. It is important to identify and label those feelings and what is causing you to feel that way. It is okay to take time to cry and express your sadness. Holding your feelings inside actually takes more mental energy than releasing them. You should give yourself permission to feel whatever emotions are present and accept that this is exactly the place where you need to be in the present. Relaxation and breathing techniques are all critical in centering yourself back after a release.
Tip # 2 – Seek Childfree Forms of Celebration:
If family events are too painful, skip them and plan activities for you and your partner. Trips out of town or even a “micro adventure” to a local hotel allow you to celebrate and explore something new together.
Tip # 3 – Give yourself permission to say “no” to invitations:
It is okay to be selective with events you choose to attend this season. You may not feel comfortable around too many babies, children and pregnant women. You may not want to have to field questions about your own fertility. Your close family and friends will understand. If you have an event that you MUST attend, make a plan for a “safety net.” Enlist your partner or a friend to stay by your side to help navigate painful conversations, to provide a supportive shoulder or to give you a break to talk freely during the event. Anticipate questions about your plans for having a family. Planning will help prevent being caught off guard. You do not have to disclose all the details, and having a rehearsed answer eases the discomfort of these exchanges.
Tip # 4 – Find inspiration in a holiday theme:
Determine the personal meaning that you and your partner can find in each holiday to help lift your spirits and comfort you in your struggle with infertility. This time of year is often associated with hope. Finding a personal connection will be instrumental in getting through it. Participate in activities that are important to you and your partner, and create a new family tradition along the way.
Tip # 5 – Give to those in need:
Spread some cheer to others in your community. Visit an elderly relative or volunteer at at a local hospital, nursing home, or homeless shelter. Bringing a smile to the faces of others with holiday blues can have a gratifying effect.
Tip # 6 – Be smart when buying gifts:
You do not need to subject yourself to braving the massive shopping crowds at the toy stores to shop for nieces, nephews or children of good friends. Purchase a gift card instead which will provide a fun trip for them to choose their own adventure at their own convenience.
Tip # 7 – Do what soothes you:
During the times where you do not have to appear happy, friendly, funny and charming, let yourself be the way you feel. Pampering yourself goes a long way to help you get through a situation. Get a massage, buy a new book or an article of clothing, or spend the day watching movies in bed. Whatever feels good—do more if it!
Tip # 8 – Stay tuned in to your partner’s needs:
It is important to allocate time to communicate with your partner. Infertility is a major life crisis and you are entitled to feel sad, deprived or depressed. Support each other through the difficult moments. You need each other’s comfort now more than ever.
Tip # 9 – Maintain Balance:
It seems like the fall and winter seasons are the busiest time of the year with one holiday following another. As a result, routines that normally keep us healthy and happy — workouts, cooking at home, and relaxation rituals — are often replaced with habits that aren’t best for our overall wellness. Keep in mind that all the holiday hustle and bustle may lead to fatigue. It’s crucial to focus on maintaining a balance to survive this time of year.
Tip # 10 – Take a Fertility Break:
If you are scheduled to undergo fertility treatment over the holiday season, it might be worth placing them on hold until the stress of the holidays passes. A small break does not negatively impact the success of the treatment and could actually provide a much needed emotional break. It is also wise to look into the details if you are using health insurance as you might have already met your deductible and it might be beneficial to get in your treatment before the end of the year to save money.
Tip #11 – Re-evaluate Expectations:
The holidays are expected to be filled with everyone feeling jolly. Don’t hold yourself to the unrealistic standards that you “should” feel happy because it is the holiday season. Instead, reframe the “shoulds” to acknowledge that you may feel increased sadness during this time. Give yourself permission to grieve instead of pushing it deeper, you allow yourself to direct any extra energy enjoyable activities. Aspire put together more advice on Patient and Family Support to help you along the way.
Tip # 12 – Seek Fertility Support in the Right Place:
It is completely normal to feel stress with the holidays and struggling with infertility. Reach out to your support system and tell them that you are having a hard day. Ask for a real hug or solicit comfort through any means that would be soothing. However, if your struggles are impacting your ability to perform daily activities, you should reach out to a professional for support. Aspire Fertility has licensed counselors who are specially trained to help you manage the challenges that come with navigating your infertility. Please contact Aspire clinics directly to schedule an appointment with one of our counselors.