Infertility and the Holidays Series: Part 1 of 2
Grant Yourself Permission to Set Your Own Rules for the Holidays
Maybe holidays stress you out, or maybe this is your favorite time of year. Either way, navigating this holiday season is going to be more difficult because what you really want is a baby and that gift hasn’t yet been delivered. So, here are some tried and true steps to navigating infertility and the holidays. They all involve giving yourself permission to put yourself first and do what is best for you.
Give Yourself Permission to Set Boundaries
This year is all about self preservation. If the idea of that holiday party, family get-together, religious service etc. is filling you with anxiety and dread then cordially decline the invite. Some people may not like the idea of you not attending. Allow yourself to not feel guilty about that. If you try to power through an activity and find yourself totally overcome by grief or anger, give yourself a break or just leave.
Boundaries should also exist around your personal information. Infertility often comes with a lack of privacy, and many people know what you are going through. This can be great when you need the support, but can be overwhelming when you need distance from the topic. YOU are in charge of who knows what is going on with you, your body and your mental health. YOU have every right to share or not share. If you are feeling overrun with questions and the ever dreaded advice giving you can either-
Change the subject (“It sure is cold outside lately, who would have guessed that winter would be this cold?!”)
Leave the room (“I hear my name being called from the kitchen, my partner is probably trying to bake the jello mold. I better go see what they need.”)
Simply say you don’t want to discuss it right now (“That’s nice Aunt Mildred that your friend who couldn’t get pregnant stopped eating bread and then miraculously had twins. We’ve tried a lot of stuff too but right now I’m pretty burnt out on talking about babies and I am just trying to focus on being with the family. Now, where are those rolls?”)
Give Yourself Permission to Adjust How you Celebrate
This year is different, and it has been really hard. You might be feeling less of the holiday spirit so allow yourself to design a holiday season that will make things easier on you. If you don’t want holiday decorations in your house don’t put them up. If you can’t fathom exchanging gifts this year have that conversation with your family. This isn’t your forever holiday tradition, it’s just what you need right now.
Give Yourself Permission to Find Joy
Don’t just focus on what not to do, focus on what you want to do. Put something in your schedule that you are looking forward to. What is something about this time that you enjoy that isn’t painful? Take a drive through the mountains, drink apple cider, bake cookies, listen to music etc. When things are terrible it almost feels obscene to find joy in what’s around us. However, you are not your infertility and this terrible situation is not your entire life. Connect and engage with what you love.
As always, if speaking with a mental health professional would help please seek one out. If you are unsure about counseling check out my Infertility Counseling Series Part 3: What is Infertility Counseling and Do I Need It? If you would like to schedule a consultation with me please submit that request in the Contact section of my website and I will be in touch. Stay tuned for the Infertility and the Holidays Series Part 2: How to Build Your Support Squad.