After enduring three years of fertility issues and a period of time that I can easily call the hardest phase of my life, I feel like I still have infertility PSTD this time of year. Even though I now have a baby and I am so deeply grateful for her, I can still vividly remember what those holidays were like and how hard they were. Holiday after holiday of well-meaning acquaintances and relatives flippantly asking about when kids were coming and if we wanted them. As if you could just pick them off the Christmas tree like an ornament. (Wouldn’t that make conception easier?!)
I remember those holidays not just being hard but being … hollow. And quiet. And lonely. And scary. And frustrating. I remember thinking, maybe next Christmas I’ll be pregnant. Only to think the same thing the very next year. It’s hard to put into words how difficult it is, but life feels unfair. And during the holidays, I almost felt during those years as if life had passed me by. As if Christmas didn’t come.
So, when these tips on coping with infertility over the holidays landed in my inbox from Pacific Fertility Center, they struck a chord. Even now. And I share them below — and added a few of my own — to hopefully help anyone else who is coping with infertility right now by letting them know that they are not alone. And that life isn’t passing them by. And that how they feel is totally normal.
7 Tips for Coping With Infertility Over the Holidays
1. Give up any and all feelings of guilt for how you are feeling. There is no right or wrong way to experience infertility. So if you don’t feel like putting up Christmas lights, you don’t have to. If you don’t want to listen to Christmas carols, that is a-okay.
2. Choose the gatherings you attend carefully. If you are upset by being around children or babies, gracefully decline invitations to events where they are likely to be present.
3. Continue to get moderate amounts of exercise. Eat healthy and get plenty of rest. Heck, book yourself a massage and really treat yourself. You will feel better if you treat your body with care.
4. Reach out to your child-free friends. Their parties will likely be adult-focused.
5. Create rituals of your own now. It can be tough, but try to create some fun rituals with just you and your partner. Maybe it’s seeing a holiday movie or making your own special eggnog. Or doing something totally offbeat like going bowling. Do something that gets your mind off of the big “I” word and instead in the moment.
6. Think about how you’ll respond. No matter how much you control where you go and what you see, you’ll probably still have someone say something that might hurt. Take a few minutes to think about how you’ll respond to questions about kids. There’s no right or wrong answer and you get to choose what you share. It helps to have an answer at the ready though. Believe me.
7. Get support. There are fertility support groups around the country and a ton of online discussion boards out there. Support is good any time of year, but during the holidays it can be particularly helpful to know you aren’t alone in your feelings and experience.
While no single tip can fully lift the difficulty of dealing with fertility issues, hopefully these help you get through the holiday season a little more easily. —Jenn