During the holiday season, people normally feel a higher level of stress. But for couples struggling with infertility, this family and child-oriented time can be especially difficult. You may be grieving your own fertility losses or disappointments. The holidays are a time when families are typically celebrated and emotions can certainly run higher.
Social Media Exposure
Social media can assault your senses with countless family photos on Facebook, Snapchat, or Instagram. Limiting your time online, avoiding certain sites altogether or joining fertility support groups so you don’t feel so alone can help. Joining others who share your experiences can be deeply comforting during this season of celebration.
We hear about this “most wonderful time of the year” but many just aren’t feeling it and in fact just feel more lonely and isolated. While people around you seem happy and excited while celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, you are still grieving and longing for your own family. You might feel the pangs of jealousy, shame and guilt over that, as you grieve the baby you still don’t have.
Family gatherings and holiday cards all too often are “picture perfect” making you feel left out. Holiday TV specials, festive music, and even social media bombarding you with celebrations may leave you feeling depressed and anxious now more than ever.
Well-meaning friends and extended family may talk about the latest additions to the family, pregnancies, adoptions, and giving their opinions. Or they don’t talk about your fertility journey at all, leaving you feeling unsupported. Still, you are not alone and there are ways you can feel emotionally strong and protected during this season.
Find Your Comfort Zone This Holiday Season
Many families start their own traditions when their first little one comes along. But it’s never too early to start your own traditions. You can continue traditions from your upbringing, or begin new ones of your own. If you have pets and can hang ornaments on a tree celebrating them.
-What traditions give you the most joy? Focus on those and let go of any that don’t. As humans, we are always growing and changing, and our traditions often can as well. This year, do only those that make your heart leap for joy. This holiday season, due to the pandemic, you may not be hanging out with as many members of your family as you normally do. But when you do, choose those that bring you the most comfort. Obligation does not equal joy.
-Incorporate comforting festivities like walking with your partner under the moonlight enjoying the holiday lights around your town or neighborhood. A midnight stroll is peaceful and quiet and soul-soothing. Bundling up at a backyard bonfire, sipping eggnog or wassail can also invite peace, warmth, and togetherness. Finding ways to serve others can also increase your joy this holiday season.
-Be open with your partner during this season. Let them know ahead of time how they can support you, and vice versa. Hugs, massages, crying without guilt or shame, and myriad other ways you can each connect and feel supported.
-When interacting with others, have answers to questions you don’t want to encourage. Folks may mean well and not realize that they are making you uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean you have to allow it. You can shrug, offer your answer and move on to something else. As fertility is a sensitive subject, you can lead with, “I’d rather not talk about this” and move on to a different topic.
-Treating yourself! The holidays are a great time for some “me time”. Give yourself a mani-pedi, meditate or do yoga, curl up on your couch and watch your favorite movies or do whatever self-care that makes you feel supported.
You have experienced loss, and it’s important to honor that loss whether that is a lost pregnancy, a failed cycle or trying to conceive without success. Support groups can offer strength so you don’t feel alone. Utah Fertility Center has the resources to help you and your partner on your fertility journey and we invite you to reach out to our team today!