Coping with infertility during the holidays

It is very natural and common to feel the pain of infertility during the holidays. Being with family can remind you of what you want so badly, and how difficult it is to get that.  Even with the most supportive family members, it can be a difficult time, but add in other factors and it can be extremely triggering. Family members, well-intentioned or not, may ask when you are going to have a baby.  Family gatherings are often times that people announce pregnancies. New babies are joyous, but can be another acute reminder of what you are missing.  Before attending an event, take some time to fully experience your feelings; talk to a supportive friend, a partner, a therapist, or write in a journal. Acknowledging and sitting with your uncomfortable feelings before experiencing them at an event can take away some of the intensity that comes with suppressing feelings. 

Different strategies are helpful to different people, so see what fits for you, but try to come up with an arsenal of strategies to help you get through a difficult time or event.  Plan a celebration for just you and your partner before or after the event to celebrate in a more intimate way.  A celebration before the event (e.g., watching a movie and baking cookies) can help bolster your mood before the event and may give you something to talk about to fill awkward silences, while a celebration after the event (enjoying a glass of wine and exchanging gifts) gives you something to look forward to while at the family event.  Exercise is a great mood booster and many cities have events the morning of holidays (e.g., Turkey Trot or Jingle Bell Run). Volunteering can be another way to boost mood; comparing yourself to people less fortunate is a good way to alter perspective.  Finally, a lot of research has shown that a gratitude journal is another way to alter perspective and improve mood.  

Holidays can be a difficult time, and the pressure to feel happy during the holidays can have an ironic effect  Remember that your feelings are valid, and while no strategy will be foolproof, having a strategy in mind can help you make it through a difficult time.  

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