Couples learning to cope with infertility issues understand how difficult the holiday season can be. Images of the Virgin and child, two stockings on the fireplace where you wish there were three, no children to spin the Dreidel – it’s hard for childless couples to see past the children-oriented aspects of the holidays. Plus, there’s always nosy relatives who ask extremely personal questions and offer well-meaning advice.
These 5 coping skills can help couples dealing with infertility get through the holidays with some semblance of grace.
- Celebrate your right to say, “No, thank you.” Be selective about the social gatherings you attend. If you’re feeling particularly sensitive regarding your conception challenges, the last thing you need is to attend event after event full of rosy cheeked babies and children. Feel free to say, “No, thank you,” to any invitation you feel will push your vulnerable buttons. If there are family events you can’t skip out on, arrive as late as you can and leave as early as you can to mitigate the stressors.
- Head out of town. Many travel agencies and airlines have amazing last minute deals right around the holidays. Instead of hanging around for the traditional holiday madness, why not head out of town and take a relaxing vacation? Who needs yet another traditional holiday meal when you can have warm sand, palm trees, and adult beverages with little umbrellas? When the rest of your family and friends are trying to keep their eyes open to survive the New Year’s Eve festivities, you’ll be relaxed, recharged, and enviably tan!
- Be honest with your feelings. It can be easy to put on the “fake” face. However, faking it can make your feelings that much harder to deal with. If you feel open to it, consider sharing your feelings with your immediate family. Ask them to spread the word that you don’t want to be asked about your plans regarding children, nor do you need to hear any advice. If that’s uncomfortable for you, try practicing your responses to the comments, questions, and remarks you anticipate. Many couples keep their fertility struggles a secret. If this is the case for you, consider sharing your situation honestly. You may be amazed at the compassionate responses.
- Do unto others. While you may be struggling with infertility issues, others are having their own share of life struggles. What things can you do to bring holiday cheer to others. When we share the burden of others’ unhappiness, we are reminded of how connected we are by the simple fact we’re human. Consider paying visits to local senior centers. Many elders have out-of-state family and have to spend the holidays alone. Local homeless centers and food banks are always looking for volunteers. The more active you are serving others, the less time you will have to think about your own unhappiness.
- Toss the holiday cards. Holiday cards can be a nightmare for infertile couples. It can seem like a veritable baby parade as the piles of glossy family photos add up beside the pages of sickeningly cheerful holiday letters sharing news about “The Perfect Adventures of the Perfect Children Of Perfect Family XYZ.” If you can’t stand opening a single one, don’t! Jot down the return address so you can add them to your own list, if you don’t have it already, and throw the cards into the round file. It can be liberating.
If you are currently dealing with infertility, are the holidays a trigger for you? What are some of your tricks for surviving the holidays with your feelings and spirit intact? We’d love to hear them.