Both the holidays and infertility an be stressful enough by themselves. Combine the two and you have a potential recipe for an unhappy season. I want to share a few tips both for couples trying to conceive and the friends and family of couples undergoing fertility treatments.
7 Tips to help with the holiday stress
- Reserve the right to say no: With the holidays come holiday parties and get togethers. Think carefully about which events you agree to go to. If you know it is going to be too painful to be around a couple with a newborn, or visit with certain friends, it is OK to decline the invitation. At the end of the day your needs to come first, although often times visiting with friends and family can be a great stress reliever.
- Use your support system: The holidays are a great time to visit with the people who love you. Take comfort and strength from their love. If visiting is not an option, call someone who you can talk freely with and vent your frustrations or just use the time to catch up. If you haven’t told anyone in your family about your infertility troubles yet, then it might be a good time to broach the subject to one or more of them. Having at least one member of the family in the know can be boon as they can lend you strength and run interference for you. Just talking about your troubles can lighten the load significantly, even if it does nothing to solve things.
- Prepare an answer to the “kids” question: If your infertility, or even desire to have kids is known you will likely be asked about it. A lot of the uncomfortableness around these conversations can be avoided if you plan ahead and have an answer ready. Remember, your friends and family probably mean the best, even if their good-intentions bring up a painful subject. Perhaps, if you are ready, the inevitable questions this year could precipitate sharing your burden of infertility. (#2)
- Look for the best in every situation: While it is OK to avoid events or people that will cause you distress or pain, but you shouldn’t shut yourself in this holiday season. If attending multi-function events pick and choose the parts that make the most sense to you. You can change your plans to either arrive or leave early or late to make things easier for you.
- Take a fertility vacation: If your infertility treatment is getting really stressful and you have failed one or more courses of treatment then maybe the best option is to take a break. Take a month or two off this holiday season, go on a vacation, or just unwind for a bit. Stress can be counterproductive for treatment, and strain relations with your partner. Take this time to do something you have always wanted to do. The holidays can be stressful enough without having to undergo fertility treatments. However, if you have met your insurance deductibles, and would be saving money by continuing your treatments the remainder of your calender year, or plan year then it might make sense to postpone your break.
- Find company in other couples: This holiday season remember you are not along in your struggle. Infertility is a common problem that affects 1 in 8 couples. It is very likely one of more of your friends have either already had treatment, are undergoing treatment, or will have to have medical help to conceive. Talk to your friends that have gone through this before, they will understand the stress and pain infertility causes you. Just spending more time with couples without kids can be a help. If you don’t know anyone who has gone through infertility before, there are always online chat groups, forums, and other support groups that can offer support during this stressful time.
- Start a new holiday tradition: This holiday why not take a ski vacation, or a romantic trip out of town with your partner. Do something fun and/or adventurous to take your mind off of your treatments. Taking a fresh approach to the holidays can make it much more enjoyable.
6 “Infertility Etiquette” Tips for Friends & Family:
- Don’t try to belittle the problem by talking about how hard it is to have kids, or how much worse things could be. Infertility can be a very, very difficult thing to go through, and no one wants their sufferings belittled.
- Don’t talk about your own pregnancies past or present, it is a very sensitive subject. Couples working through infertility hope for the day they will have to worry about morning sickness or swollen feet.
- Don’t try to tell the couple to relax. Although stress has been shown to correlate with infertility, the reality is the human reproductive system is quite complex and is affected by a large number of biological and physical factors. And for God’s sake don’t ever say anything along the lines of, “..if it is meant to be, it will happen.”
- Don’t tell them how to fix their problem, whether it is exercise, food, lifestyle. If the couple has seen a infertility doctor, they specialist has already covered these issues. It is common for people coping with infertility to blame themselves and the last thing they need to hear is that they are doing things wrong and are the cause of their own problems.
- Don’t push adoption. Every couple has their own idea of building their family and are aware of the options. The decision to adopt or not is a very personal one that they may have already considered or struggled with.
- Do be supportive. Be there for them, be generous with hugs and encouraging words. Show them you care and how much you love them with or without a baby. Plan activities that don’t focus on kids. Your support and kindness can go a long way!
I hope these ideas help, if you have any comments or concerns please voice them with the form below