When you’re going through treatment for infertility it seems as though every encounter is fraught with emotion. Feelings of vulnerability and a looming sense of “what if?” make even a trip to the grocery store feel like you’re navigating a minefield of feelings. Family gatherings are nearly impossible to endure without needing a moment to gather yourself to quell the tears.
Trying to maintain a hopeful and positive attitude as you go through treatment for your compromised fertility is often challenging. When you get together with well-meaning family, it can be exhausting. If one more cousin, aunt, or friend inquires about your plans for starting a family, you fear you’ll snap.
Getting through holiday celebrations, family parties and reunions is hard when you’re undergoing treatment for infertility. Of course, your nearest and dearest are coming from a kind and living place, however poorly timed their questions and comments might be. Here are some suggestions to help you navigate your family gatherings and traditional holiday celebrations without dissolving into an emotional puddle, or lashing out at Aunt Sophie.
Just because you’ve always attended certain parties and functions in the past doesn’t mean you’re obligated to attend this time. Be selective and opt out of those get-togethers that could be emotionally difficult. If there are certain parties with lots of children new babies, or pregnant women, skip them.
You should never feel guilty for placing your needs, and the needs of your partner, first. It’s not selfish, it’s self-care. If your friends or family members don’t understand, or seem offended, they will get over it.
If you find yourself at a party, or reunion, and feel overwhelmed, leave. You are never obligated to endure conversations or activities which make you uncomfortable.
Visiting Friends and Family
Close friends and family members likely know what’s going on in your life. Make plans for intimate gatherings with those individuals who lift you up. Spend time with couples, or friends, who have no children and participate in activities which are more adult-focused. This year, steer away from the traditional family activities and focus on your needs as they are right now.
Plan a special get-away for just you and your partner. Go somewhere and just unplug. Sure, you’re going to get some grief for spending a traditional family holiday away from your loved ones, but remember the remarks you get for being “selfish” are much easier to bear than a family reunion packed with children, babies, and pregnant women.
Plan your get-away around activities you enjoy, and take your mutual focus off of the treatment that seems to take center stage in all of your together time these days. Stoke the fire and discover new interests together.
Share Your Feelings in a Safe Environment
Attend a support group, or schedule a time to discuss what you’re feeling with a professional. The holiday season, especially the winter holidays, can bring an avalanche of memories that fill you with longing for happier times. Declining invitations, and creating opportunities for new memories will help, but you also need to deal with you feelings right now. Journal, talk them out with a close friend, or ask your fertility clinic to recommend a support group or professional with whom you can feel safe to spill out those feelings.
Practice Self-Care, Especially Now
Self-care is essential, especially right now, to keep you healthy and minimize stress. Navigating day-to-day life while undergoing treatment for infertility is exhausting. When you are faced with celebrations, such as Christmas, Hanukkah, the 4th of July, or yearly family reunions, it can be downright impossible to maintain a positive outlook. Now is the time for self-care.
Stroll the farmers market and find healthy and nutritious items to prepare for you and your partner. Go for a quiet walk in nature. Meditate, do yoga, exercise specifically geared toward your treatment, journal and spend time with those close to you who have knowledge of your treatment for infertility. Indulge in a massage, or spa treatment approved by your physician.
When you’re undergoing treatment for infertility it’s essential to put your energy and focus on yourself. There will be another celebration, or family gathering you can attend when you feel more life it. And you will likely be bringing a little “plus one” along.