When you yearn for a baby but it has not happened yet, surviving the holidays can be tough. The whole spirit of the season is draped in food, laughter and children.
We all love the traditional images of young children excitedly putting out their stockings on Christmas Eve in the hope that Father Christmas will visit but at this time of year couples with infertility suffer tremendously.
The pain of infertility is magnified when you’re surrounded by families and children everywhere. You dread it, and when it’s in full swing, it seems just impossible to survive the season.
Plus there are all the insensitive questions and comments to deal with. Some come from people who know about your infertility and simply do not understand. Others are from people who have no idea that you’re suffering from infertility.
The Pain Of Infertility
Infertility is still regarded as a dirty little secret. And although things are getting better thanks to growing public awareness, some people still do not tell their family and friends about their infertility struggles.
Tammy was very open with me about how she feels every Christmas. She has no children but has been through three miscarriages, four IVF cycles, and countless cycles of egg-growing fertility medication.
She has made peace with her infertility. She and her partner Darren have found joy in life again as they move forwards without children.
But, despite her strength and courage, Tammy says she still feels like less of a person at Christmas. “It is a time when you open that wound again. The desire to have children never really goes away. Yes, I have made peace with it. Yes, it does not rule my life anymore.
But there is still a deep sadness at the loss of my dream, my failure to have the family with Darren that we wanted. But I can proudly say that it does not break me anymore. I can deal with Christmas!”
And it’s true: You can survive the pain of infertility at Christmas. It’s hard, but it helps if you keep a few things in mind.
5 Tips to Survive Christmas with Infertility.
1. Don’t run away. Do not book that idyllic looking Christmas-in-the-sun holiday just to escape the questions and comments about children. Absolutely book a holiday away for Christmas if that is what you both want for all the right reasons. But if you are looking to avoid the pain of infertility at Christmas, remember that your problems follow you wherever you go.
2. Be brave and speak up. When those insensitive comments come up, how about a different answer? The classic comment is “why are you waiting to have children?” Instead of the usual answers (we need to buy a house before having kids, we’re enjoying our time together as a couple before becoming parents) why not go bold!
Try a different approach this year. Plan ahead with some answers. Choose what works for you. “That is not a very sensitive thing to ask. Perhaps I am not waiting. Perhaps I am dealing with infertility or multiple miscarriages. Maybe you are not aware of how common infertility is. Did you know one in every eight couples has infertility?”
You have zero obligation to answer any questions about your situation! Use statistics to inform and educate. Deflect questions about you and turn the conversation to infertility awareness. The more we all talk about infertility, the better things will get. The more we call out insensitive people, the more likely they are to think before asking the same question again.
3. Give yourself a present for Christmas. When you are dealing with infertility, you need to give yourself the gift of a little extra love. It’s common to blame yourself over and over again. It is hard to remember the truth – infertility is a medical condition. There is no blame here.
You deserve something extra this Christmas. Book yourselves a couple’s massage, or a special dinner out. If there is something special you would like, treat yourself. You absolutely deserve it.
4. Forgive yourself. We always tell children to be kind to others. But as adults, we so often forget to be kind to ourselves. Infertility commonly leads to stress, guilt, shame, and mental health struggles.
Take a brave step to fight these feelings! Make time and space to talk openly with your partner and listen to them as well. See a counsellor if you are struggling. This is especially helpful around Christmas time.
A counsellor provides a safe space to talk and get a different perspective on your situation. You can get tips on dealing with anxiety and difficult situations. Facing your struggles head-on is the best way to get stronger. It is difficult to take the first step and start talking, but you will find so much benefit.
5. Just say no! Don’t feel like you have to go to every family event or friend’s party. If you do not feel like going, respect your feelings. There are some people and places that you know are going to trigger your emotions, especially friends who have just had another baby or family members who always make insensitive comments. Do something special together instead and don’t feel bad about your decision. Protecting your mental health is vital.