The Holidays are again upon us and for those dealing with infertility it can be a less than joyful time. While those around are celebrating with family and friends and one’s own family wants you to join in, the holidays can magnify even more the sadness felt at not having a child of one’s own. Gatherings are numerous and often focused on children. The end of the year can accentuate another year marked with no baby.
What are some ways to cope with this?
1. Give yourself permission to acknowledge that this is stressful and you are not being a Scrooge.
2. Identify your “A” team of family and/or friends who “get it” and can be supportive and spend more time with them. Identifying your “A” team is something many of my clients find helpful all year-long. There may be people in your lives who are good and well-meaning but say or do things that can be unintentionally painful. Maybe they are on the “B” or “C” Team because they care about you but don’t understand the things to say or do regarding infertility.
3. If invited to a Holiday gathering, you may not really know whether you can face going until that very day/evening. People cancel at the last-minute for lots of reasons and so can you. Or, if you decide to give it a try, and you are part of a couple, have a prearranged signal that you give to one another when one of you absolutely must leave. Stay close to each other while at the gathering to be mutually supportive.
4. Perhaps, instead of the usual round of holiday parties, you go off this year to some place by yourselves. Reassure your family that you’re not changing family tradition forever; you just need to take care of yourselves this year. Pamper yourselves. It could be something as big as a trip to Hawaii, or as simple as a weekend at a Bed and Breakfast.
5. Consider taking the month off trying to get pregnant. This can be difficult when you are feeling a time crunch but consider it a gift to yourselves to enjoy lovemaking and time together with no pressure.
6. Men and women often have different ways of coping. Remember that no one way is the “right” way and try to be accepting of difference. A good example, which I often see in my practice, is that men cope by wanting to hold on to whatever is “normal” in life. They want to go to all the parties and “enjoy” the holidays after months of disappointment. Women find holiday parties loaded with “danger” of talk of pregnancies and children and cope by trying to avoid them. Respect each other’s way of coping and talk in an accepting way towards a compromise.
This post was contributed by Anne Korpi Dolan, LCSW, DCSW. Anne has more than 25 years working in this field, including leading groups for RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. She can be reached at 1-617-650-3732