The festive season is upon us, and maybe you thought you’d be pregnant by now. Or maybe you’ve been grappling with infertility for a while now, and it feels like everyone know. Whatever the case, it may feel like the holidays and infertility just don’t mix.
If you are dreading the upcoming season of friend and family gatherings, here are a few ideas for navigating this season of joy (and stress).
The Reality of Infertility
Trying to conceive is not always a bottle of wine and a bouquet of roses. For some, the process can be arduous and emotional.
As supportive as family and friends are trying to be, their well-intentioned comments and persistent questions can add to the stress of the situation.
Then, you add the pressure of the holidays and spending extra time with those same family and friends. Some of them, in their joyful and cheery holiday spirit, can’t help but remind you of what you don’t yet have.
Know that big emotions around the holidays are normal.
These strategies simply help you sidestep Aunt Sarah’s there, there pat on the back without breaking down. And they help ensure you’re finding the support you need through the season.
Take Time for You and Your Partner
During the holiday season, we can get caught in the bustle of buying gifts, baking treats, and hosting or attending gatherings. Throughout this process, your ultimate supporter and co-adventurer is still and always your partner. So make sure to prioritize time with just them.
For example, you might schedule in a date night or a night to sit on the couch together once a week. You could have a cookie decorating (or eating) party with just you and your partner.
The holidays and infertility don’t have to feel like oil and water. You can use the holidays to reconnect and come closer. Build a few more memories of just the two of you.
This connection is crucial.
To illustrate, a 2013 study found that the men in couples experiencing infertility felt more stress when they had lower support from their partners.
While family and social support is often highlighted for emotional wellbeing, partner support is critical. And it can sometimes fall by the wayside.
Know that some of this dedicated partner time may be needed for space to vent and express frustrations of the season, or to grieve the losses and not-yets you have experienced together. This may also be time to build or continue holiday traditions you want as a couple.
Enjoy this time for what it is while acknowledging the feelings you have around what it isn’t.
Pick an Answer
Everyone asks. How’s it going with the, you know, trying to conceive?
Since we already know this, the holidays and infertility call for a plan of action.
Instead of dreading the question, you might choose ahead of time how you want to address it.
You might have different levels of answers or pre-formed statements, one for people you’ve confided more in and one for people who only know the basics of your situation.
Maybe you want to talk about where you are in the process, or maybe you want to kindly deflect their interest.
It’s up to you what you want to say, but having something pre-prepared can ease some of the anxiety and stress of holidays and infertility.
Lean on Your Top Supporters
Recruit your go-to person. Whoever you depend on for a quick rescue text or an escape for tea or a walk, call them now. Let them know that the holidays might be harder for you and you appreciate all their support.
This doesn’t apply exclusively to holidays and infertility. The benefits can be far reaching.
Experts agree that social support positively impacts stress around health issues, including infertility. In a 2015 study, researchers found that directly disclosing information around infertility resulted in better support from the network a woman chose to share that information with.
In short, instead of giving bits and pieces of information to your chosen supporters, you share it all at once. And you share it directly instead of allowing someone else to do so.
This way, with your friend or family supporters having such a good understanding, you will probably feel better supported by them later.
Consider Talking with a Counselor about How the Holidays and Infertility Are Affecting You
There’s a reason experts recommend talking with a counselor when you’re feeling out of sorts, or even as a preventative measure during a season that’s known to be challenging.
Studies show that psychotherapy is effective in treating and helping to prevent depression. Especially if you begin to feel reclusive or continually upset or downtrodden, talking with a professional can help offer the lift you might need to feel like you can navigate challenges (whether seasonal or long-term) with adequate support.
If you need help getting through the holidays, a psychologist with experience in infertility and pregnancy loss can help. Call Dr.Irena at (281)-267-1742 for a free 10 min phone consultation.
Dr. Irena offers online therapy for women and couples in Texas and New York City. She uses research-proven method, known as Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) to help couples develop and maintain emotional connection and support each other through stressful times. She has helped highly distressed couples be available and responsive to each other, access their resiliency, and strengthen their relationships.
If you would like to schedule a session, email Dr. Irena for a free 10-minute video consultation: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (281)-267-1742.