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Coping With Infertility

Coping With the Holidays

While you are going through infertility, which can be months or years, it's inevitable that you will have to experience a holiday during this difficult part of your life. Other people may not even think twice about how it may affect you. Even you may have a hard time believing that your once-favorite holiday could turn into a torturous event. Holidays are usually a time for celebration and joy, which can mean a mountain of expectations and pressure on a woman going through infertility. Even during times in a person's life when everything is going seemingly well, holidays can be full of pressure for even the most patient person.
A key to coping with these situations is to plan in advance. In some cases, this may mean throwing out those time-honored traditions and doing something completely different. Particularly on days that you anticipate will be incredibly difficult, such as Mother's Day and Father's Day, try to avoid crawling in a hole (which is what you may feel like doing) and plan on something that you and your partner will find enjoyment in.
Some ways to cope with the holidays include:
  • Throwing out the expectations. Rather than trying to convince yourself that you should be happy and put on a brave face, be realistic. Acknowledge that it's going to be difficult. What other people expect of you doesn't really matter. You're going through a difficult time, and it's okay to feel like you do. Don't put added pressure on yourself to be any certain way.
  • Finding other ways to celebrate, which may mean "child-free" celebrations. If you usually have Thanksgiving dinner with family where there are lots of children running around and you realize that this is going to be simply torturous for you, plan something different. If your family and friends can't understand this, then try explaining to them why you need to plan something a bit different for "this year." Sometimes going away with your significant other and doing something you both enjoy, rather than what you usually do every year, can give you a breath of fresh air and help you to not be around certain situations that are going to make you sad or cause you more grief.
  • Learning it's okay to say no. When friends or family invite you to events where you know it may be uncomfortable, it's okay to say no. Learning what situations you don't want to expose yourself to is a coping mechanism in itself. If you're not ready to be around women who are pregnant or who have babies that will be there, it's okay to not go and subject yourself to that kind of pain.
  • Looking for ways to help others. Although you may feel like you are the only person going through a horrible time, take a look around at some of those who may also be struggling during the holidays. Perhaps spending time with someone who is elderly and has no other family may help give them a gift during the holidays, while also giving yourself a boost by helping someone else.
  • Throwing your own party. This gives you the ability to invite who you want. And if you don't want it to include those with children, hey, it's your party!
Most of all, be kind to yourself. While this may feel like a selfish act to some women, it's important that you go easy on yourself. You are going through a lot, and you need to be gentle on yourself. Don't try to put too much on yourself or expect that you should feel a different way. Your feelings are your feelings, and you have to deal with them in the way only you know how.
During the holidays, also try to focus on what you do have, rather than what you don't have. Remind yourself of how much strength you are building during these tough days. Being kind to yourself and allowing yourself to not do everything that is expected of you during this time will help you to enjoy the holidays in your own unique way.
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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