Labor Day weekend is upon us, and this seems to mark the beginning of the cascade of holidays that comes each year. Have you been to Costco? Christmas is out already! We hope you enjoy a restful holiday weekend filled with family, friends and those that matter most to you. We are keenly aware that just because the calendar says it’s time for vacation…many are dealing with the pain and frustration that come with fertility struggles and feel very much “on the clock” as they perfectly time medications, appointments and more.
**This post originally appeared on November 20, 2010. The topic is very relevant for the upcoming months and is worth repeating.
The holiday season is upon us once again. The holidays are stressful for everyone, not just for individuals and couples that have been diagnosed with infertility, and may be going through treatment for infertility. However, the holiday season is a time frame that can be a land mine of opportunity for ramping up the already painful emotions that are part of the journey to build your family. If you are reading this now, it is possible that what got you through last Thanksgiving and Christmas or Chanukah was the vision of a baby to celebrate the season with next year. And here you are again….
First of all, my sympathies are with you. Having personally been through several holiday seasons in my journey to become a parent, I know how you feel, and I would not wish anyone else to experience the same. Unfortunately, it is an all too common experience. Although you cannot make painful emotions disappear miraculously, you can plan ahead and brace yourself for what you know is going to be difficult. In doing so, you can ease your pain and improve your chances of finding some joy during the holiday season.
For starters, if you were in a similar situation last holiday season, try to recall what some of the most difficult issues or events were for you and your spouse or partner. Discuss your recall with them to see if the two of you are on the same page about the stress and pain you experienced last year. You will most likely need their support to help you in getting through this year. Even if you were not experiencing infertility last year, it is still a good idea to discuss your concerns with your spouse or partner so that the two of you can work together to find good solutions. Even if it is only a concern for one person in the relationship, the best solutions will come from the two of you working together.
Also, whenever you feel like you “should” or “should not” do something with respect to the holidays, or if someone tells you, you “should” or “should not” do something, or feel a certain way with respect to the holidays, that is a sign you are headed down a slippery slope of difficult emotions. It is important to accept things as they are, not as they “should” be. As you know all too well, things don’t always go the way they “should.” Instead of expending your energy feeling guilty, work towards accepting the reality of where you are on your journey, and help friends, family, maybe even your partner, do the same. Then you can figure out how to create the best holiday season possible.
For specific coping tips and strategies, a good resource is www.resolve.org. Under their fact sheet series, you will find a collection of articles and tips on coping with the holidays.
–The above was authored by guest contributor Kerry Christifano, M.A., LPC. Kerry is the Executive Director of Counseling and Mind/Body Infertility Services for Complementary Care Group for Infertility, located in Overland Park, KS. She has been helping individuals and couples with psychological and emotional issues since 2005. In addition, she makes herself available to Reproductive Resource Center (RRC) patients as they face infertility issues.