Author – Cloe Cabrera
The holiday season is here. For many of us, it means celebrating with family and friends. But for couples coping with infertility, “the most wonderful time of the year” can be painful.
One out of every 10 couples in the United States struggles with infertility, according to the American Fertility Association. For them, the warmth of the holiday season can turn cold with careless comments like “When are you going to have a baby?” And seeing families celebrating with their children can trigger overwhelming sadness.
“Infertility is such an emotionally difficult health issue. Holidays and family gatherings can be particularly challenging for couples who are coping with months or even years of disappointment. It is important for couples to know that they are not alone. The positive message is that with treatment, the vast majority of couples will succeed in overcoming their infertility.” says Dr. Sandy Goodman, a Reproductive Endocrinologist at The Reproductive Medicine Group.
There are tactics those struggling with fertility issues can develop to make the holiday season a time of joy.
Resolve, the national fertility association offers these tips to help couples ease some of the holiday heartaches.
DO: Be selective about accepting invitations to parties and holiday celebrations, especially the ones at which you know there will be a lot of children or pregnant women. Remember: you don’t have to accept every invitation.
DON’T: Feel guilty about not participating in all the traditional family events. You’re going through a difficult time, and you need to concentrate on helping yourself and your partner get through the holidays.
DO: Plan to spend time with couples or friends who don’t have children if family festivities are too much to bear this year. Consider arriving just in time for the holiday dinner, rather than the night before if you find it painful to be around your young nieces, nephews, and cousins.
DON’T: Rely completely on family traditions to fulfill your present needs.
DO: Spend time doing things you like best.
DON’T: Pretend there’s nothing wrong and carry on with “business as usual.”
DO: Decide in advance how you will handle difficult and insensitive questions.
You may even want to rehearse your answers. (You can decide, to be honest with friends and relatives as to why you can’t join certain celebrations and traditions that are just too painful right now.)
DON’T: Be caught off guard by unexpected or embarrassing questions about your plans for having a family. Plan your responses, but don’t feel that you have to disclose all the details of your situation either!
DO: Try to help others in need. Visit an elderly or bed-ridden relative; volunteer at a hospital or nursing home; or participate in a holiday program to help the homeless. Cheering up other victims of the holiday blues has a rejuvenating effect.
DON’T: Close yourself off to positive feelings and new experiences. You may find that you have a special ability to make others feel good, even though you’re not feeling upbeat yourself.
DO: Set aside time to share your feelings with each other.
DON’T: Get caught up in the whirlwind of the holidays and forget about each other. Take care of each other. You need each other’s comfort more than ever.
Prepare a spectacular meal, take long walks, go horseback riding or jogging, or treat you to a massage.
Plan a special “away time” just for you and your partner: light a fire and enjoy s’mores together, plan a ski weekend or a few nights at a cozy country inn.
Begin your own family traditions: a special ceremony or ritual that says that you and your partner are already a family and that you can rejoice in your love for each other, with or without children.
Express your appreciation to friends and relatives who have given you their love and support.
Allow yourself to feel sad, deprived or depressed. Infertility is a major life crisis, and you are entitled to those feelings. Talk with each other about your feelings. Your partner may be able to help you through the rough times.
Give yourself, and each other, frequent pats on the back for making it through the holidays. Remember to capture the “spirit” in each holiday that makes it special. Participate in activities that bring meaning to you at this time; create the joy intended in celebrating the holiday for its own sake.
For more information on how our team can help, please call The Reproductive Medicine Group at 813.914.7304. Also, join our community on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ReproductiveMedicineGroup or on Twitter @ReproMedGroup or Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/rmgfertility.