Infertility and the Holidays.
I don’t have to explain how painful and embarrassing infertility is. It is estimated that approximately 10-15% of couples in the United States are affected by infertility. While in and of itself infertility is a complicated issue that leads to a mixture of emotions, financial decisions, and medical responsibilities. It is also a widely misunderstood condition. The lack of awareness and confusion surrounding what infertile couples truly go through on a daily basis also opens the door for misinformation and unsolicited advice from those that have no experience with infertility. Yet they have seemingly become infertility experts overnight and want to offer all the fertility advice or want to get up close and personal with your ovaries.
Combine infertility with the holidays and it can be a combustible mixture. Think uncomfortable questions from family members. Holiday traditions and situations that may cause unpleasant emotions to surface. As well as the increasing guilt, embarrassment, and sense of failure that seems to creep up on you at every single opportunity. While there really isn’t anything that can make it all better. Some days will actually just plain suck. But there is hope. Here are some ideas for how you can handle those potentially sticky holiday situations.
Uncomfortable Social Situations.
You may find yourself in these situations when you’re at a holiday party or gathering with close friends or family. You’re having a great time when out of nowhere the topic of conversation turns towards you and “Hey, why haven’t you had kids yet?” or “When are you finally going to get pregnant?”. Sometimes this question isn’t really asked to offend it could just be an innocent question yet it can still cause a surge of negative emotions like guilt, shame and stress to surface. In these instances, you may want to choose to just be real and honest about what you’re going through and let them know it actually feels uncomfortable for you to talk about it and you would rather not. In most cases, people will understand and accept this answer. If they continue to press or want to offer advice smile politely and walk away.
There are other situations where you are dealing with someone that is being meddlesome and wants to get all up in your uterus and chat about your reproductive organs and what’s going on with you. You can stop them mid-sentence and politely explain to them that it is rude and impolite to discuss your fertility and reproductive organs with anyone that is not your partner or your doctor and to drop it. This is a clear boundary and most people will respect it but if they don’t know how to take the hint to know that it’s okay to politely walk away or remove yourself from the conversation.
I know these approaches may come off as “rude” but something that I have finally learned after being infertile for years is that if you don’t set a clear boundary and let people know that your infertility is your business, not theirs and firmly tell them to back off and be prepared to actively remove yourself from these situations. Hashing over your infertility just makes you feel worse or like something is wrong with you and is just an all-around bad time for you because chances are they usually have no idea what they are talking about and they have no idea what you are going through. It’s all up to you to choose what your boundaries are and what’s ok versus what’s not ok.
Holiday Traditions that Trigger Emotions.
I remember the holidays were a big struggle for me and would make me feel more barren and empty. Everything seemed to remind me of how infertile I was. Shopping for presents, going to holiday parades or seasonal events. Basically, any event in which a large focus was placed on children and parents spending quality time making memories. It would remind me of how it was just me and my husband. No kids. That would be the time that the grief, doubt, insecurity, frustration, and bitterness would settle in. This would just lead to a downward spiral from there. Then there was the struggle with to decorate and put up a Christmas tree or not. If I didn’t decorate it made me feel even more emotional and empty. If I did decorate I would wonder what the purpose was since there were no kids to enjoy this special occasion with.
Moving past all of these emotions took time and getting to a better mindset mentally and emotionally. I found that shifting my focus during the holiday season and making it about my faith was really healing and helped me find the peace and balance that has set me free. The holidays still have things that trigger me and cause me to feel guilt and shame but I can work through those emotions in a healthy way now. Some ways you can find and create balance this holiday season are:
Choose what traditions you can tolerate and what traditions you can’t.
If parades, and over the top holiday celebrations with families makes you feel bad. Don’t participate in them. Create your own traditions with your spouse, because he’s a major and important part of your family! Maybe you just need to get away for the holidays. Plan an escape. Go somewhere tropical and experience the holidays someplace you’ve never been.
Spend time giving back and volunteering during the holiday season.
What better way to take your mind off what’s going on with your infertility than to spend time volunteering at a food bank or homeless shelter.
Prepare for the new year.
Do some goal planning, think about new year’s resolutions, or one of my favorite hobbies deep clean and organize your home for the new year and sell/donate items you don’t need.
Journaling and writing about your feelings.
This is a healthy way to work through your emotions and help you to deal with your experience. It’s a safe space to vent without fear of judgment or having someone tell you what you should feel or think.
While your instincts may be pulling you into isolation work on plugging into a supportive community and also enlisting the help of your partner when it comes to coping with depression. The holidays may just be too much for you to bear no matter how hard you try. The grief and disappointment of another year spent struggling with infertility may just take its toll. Especially if you have been on your infertility journey for quite some time. First of all, I want you to know that it’s ok to not be ok. It’s ok to feel what you’re feeling. The hurt, disappointment, and grief are all normal. But you need to know that you are not alone. There are many women out there that are going through the same struggle as you. Getting counseling or finding a support group of women that are also dealing with infertility can help you to connect with others and not internalize your pain.
There is a Light at the End of the Tunnel.
The holiday season is full of triggers that will stir negative emotions and feelings regarding fertility. Developing healthy coping mechanisms and ways to handle uncomfortable situations can help you survive the holiday season. Know your boundaries and limits. Deciding what’s ok and what’s not ok can help you deal with those negative emotions. This can lead to you finding a way to enjoy the holidays.
Meet Kat, The Anti-Aging Rebel
Hi, my name is Kathleen but you can call me Kat. I am an Anti-Aging Coach and I am super passionate about empowering women. I encourage women like you to take charge of their feminine health and anti-aging wellness. You can accomplish this holistically and naturally by creating healthy habits with your nutrition, fitness, wellness, and beauty. I create awareness and provide educational content here on my blog, as well as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
My intention is to provide you with education and awareness about women’s health, nutrition, fitness, beauty, wellness, and lifestyle. I primarily help women that are seeking holistic and natural solutions to common feminine health and wellness issues. From infertility to inflammatory acne, from endometriosis to minimalism. I aim to arm you with the tools necessary to speak up and speak out about your issues until you get the answers and solutions you need. If you want to learn more about how you can redefine your health click here and schedule a FREE Discovery session with me and get empowered!