Coping with infertility over the holidays
The holidays can be difficult for those who are struggling with infertility. Images of happy children on holiday cards, pregnancy announcements on social media, and unwelcome questions during family gatherings can cause sadness and anxiety. Fertility specialist Johanna Von Hofe, MD, offered some coping strategies to make the holidays more manageable.
Honor yourself and your boundaries. Your journey and who you share it with is your decision. Before you are surrounded by friends and family who might ask probing questions, decide what you want to share (and with whom) and practice how you might answer. You could deflect with, “It’s been a tough year. How is your work?” Or face it head on with, “That’s a pretty personal question, don’t you think?”
Learn to say no. Declining invitations is okay. Be thoughtful about which parties might have young children or pregnant women at them, and if you go, think about arriving just before dinner is served or having an early exit strategy.
Identify and avoid triggers. It’s okay to not open holiday cards. It’s also okay to suspend your Facebook and Instagram apps for a while.
Acknowledge your feelings. Feeling sad, angry and jealous when friends and family share their pregnancy news doesn’t make you a bad person. You can be happy for people you care about and still be sad you’re struggling to build your family.
Make new traditions with your partner or a confidant. Take a trip or try a new holiday recipe.
Try to help someone else in need. Visiting an elderly relative or volunteering at an animal shelter can have a rejuvenating effect.
Take care of yourself. Keep exercising, eating well, limiting alcohol and taking your prenatal vitamin. You’ve been doing all of that hard work the rest of the year. Keep it up!
Seek help when you need it. Reach out to your partner, doctor, therapist, friend, fertility coach, or a support group like RESOLVE.
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