The holidays are approaching, and while that brings many wonderful things this time of year, those in the TTC community know that infertility truly is the Grinch of the Holidays. While others may look back on the year with joy and positivity, many of us look back on another year with no baby, failed attempts or treatments, or a year in which we received news that changed the trajectory of our future family plans. At this time of year, we can feel a disconnection from the holiday, our usual selves, and even distance in our relationships and families.
Everything this time of year can feel extra hard. The holiday cards, social media posts, parties, and even the movies can be painful this time of year. People wanting you to hold their babies at parties, and seeing all the moms and babies out shopping in the malls, can be too much to handle. Jealousy can start creeping up, and then shame for those feelings. You might think the Grinch may even have the right idea of hiding away with his favorite furry friend and avoiding the holiday altogether.
When it hurts, we want to avoid that pain or find a way to regain control in our lives. There is no right or wrong way to navigate the grief that comes from infertility; no suggestion, list, or insight will take away the pain and loss of infertility. This journey is complex and full of many emotions, with every journey different from the next. With that in mind, here are some suggestions that may bring you some comfort in your infertility journey during the holiday season.
Find a safe community to connect to.
The support and connection to others who see and hear us in these vulnerable parts of ourselves, who can understand and show us empathy, creates a chance to connect with each other and to ourselves. Whether this community is online, meeting up with friends, or through the phone, this connection will give us a chance to be honest, let go a bit and gain some relief during this challenging season.
Have a plan for how you're going to navigate the hard stuff.
What is triggering for one person going through infertility may differ from another, so first, identify what will be hard for you this time of year and then start to plan around those things. If social media is draining, maybe it's a good time for a social media detox. If opening holiday cards is too much, leave them to open at a later time. If you know parties will be hard, make a reason you need to leave early when it's too much that you and your partner can be on the same page about before the event.
Take back some control through planning and knowing what you will say yes and no to this year.
Make the holidays your own.
Whether it's creating special traditions for you and your partner, or finding ways to give back to your community, create space for something special for yourselves this year. Let the light of hope shine in your heart knowing that pain and hope can co-exist in our lives and the world.
Take time to connect with yourself.
The truth is, self-care isn't just about bubble baths and spa days. Actual self-care is about self-connection, self-compassion, and checking in on ourselves more than a list of things we need to do. Our body is not a bunch of separate parts. All parts need to work together; for that to happen, we must look at our body as a whole. When we look at our bodies in this holistic way, we can move towards restoring connection and the power within our bodies to heal themselves. A great starting point if you aren't sure how to initiate this process of self-connection is to ask yourself - "What am I feeling, and what do I need right now?"
Don't forget: We are more than what we do to improve fertility; we need to care for ourselves, nurture ourselves, check in on ourselves, and connect with supports that feel good.
For more tips and advice on navigating the holidays, make sure you follow us on social media where we will be talking lots about this topic over the next month.