The holidays are painted as a time of joy and celebration and for a lot of people they are, but what if you’re not feeling joyous or like you don’t have the one thing that you actually want to be celebrating? When you’ve been struggling to try to conceive and/or are going through fertility testing or treatments, the holidays can be especially difficult. , you’re gathering with family members who will feel more than comfortable asking uncomfortable questions about your personal life. As we head into the holiday season, it’s important to think about how you will handle certain situations and field questions thrown your way.
The biggest thing is to be on the same page as your partner about how much you’re willing to disclose about your TTC journey and to whom. Going in together as a unified front will bring peace of mind that you have an ally across the room. If you’re attending a gathering and you want to use it as a mental escape from thinking about infertility, stick with that. If the topic is broached, politely say to that person “I would love to have a conversation with you about this another time, but right now I am really trying to live in this moment and enjoy this time.” If you’re okay discussing the topic of your infertility, try to keep it brief. Answer the questions honestly but be straight forward about not wanting the topic to be the theme of the evening. When you’re done, move to a different topic of conversation.
Pregnancy announcements and the holidays go hand-in-hand. If seeing these announcements is triggering for you, consider spending less time on social media and more time doing activities that bring you peace. Should you be so fortunate to experience one of these announcements in-person at a family or friends gathering, try to center yourself and process the news as best you can. If it gets to be too overwhelming, leave! Your mental health is the priority and you shouldn’t stay in a situation if it’s too painful. Obviously you don’t want to cause a scene and draw attention away from the happy couple but you know what’s best for you. People who know what you’re going through may even turn their heads toward you and ask if you’re okay. They mean well but that added attention just highlights what you’re feeling even more. Think about how you might want to handle that situation.
The one thing about going through a cycle is that you’re required to be in the fertility doctor’s office quite often and sometimes you don’t know the exact dates. The holidays may require some travel and you’ll need to plan accordingly. You may get lucky and have the timing of your cycle up perfectly so that it doesn’t interfere with your travel plans, but the two may overlap. Think about whether you would change your travel or if you would cancel your cycle. Perhaps you take a heavy travel month off from cycling. It’s all personal decisions that do have fallouts. If you choose to stay close to home, you’ll need to explain to your family why you’re not coming or why your plans may be up in the air. It’s up to you how much you want to tell them. It’s certainly not necessary to tell them anything you don’t want to.
Bottom line is that the holidays can be emotional when you’re dealing with infertility. Often, we say things to ourselves like “By next Christmas, I’ll be pregnant or have a baby.” When that time rolls around and you don’t have either of those things, it’s disappointing. Go into the holidays with a game plan on how to handle certain gatherings, situations, and the timing of your treatment strategy with your doctor. Remember your priorities and stay true to yourself. With support, you’ll get through it.