How to handle infertility and third-party fertility during the holiday season
Heading into this season can be difficult for those trying to build their families. Now that December has begun, the season of celebrating joy and family is well underway – and we know how tough it can be for so many of us, including those struggling with infertility, pursuing third-party fertility options, or beginning to figure out their family-building journey. From invasive questions to family-focused events, the holiday season can be a minefield while you're dealing with your own family plans. Below are our tips and resources to get through the holidays.
It's okay to say "No" or cancel plans
Many of us have family, friend and neighborhood obligations this year, and many of those events may center around families and children. It can feel impossibly guilt-inducing to say no to these gatherings, but we want to encourage you to be honest about what will make you feel the best. If you are struggling with fertility, grieving, or simply not in the mood to answer family-related questions, RSVPing no is totally okay. This season is a time to celebrate joy, and your family's or friends' joy shouldn't come at the expense of yours.
Having an exit strategy might help
If you are nervous about fielding questions at events, or struggling with the feelings that family-related activities might bring up, having an "exit strategy" might help you enjoy the events you attend with less stress. Family events and family-related conversations while you're coping with infertility might be a sign that it's time to head out, but how do you gracefully exit? We recommend talking to your partner, a family member, or simply setting a plan with yourself in advance to give yourself an "out." You can let your hosts know in advance that you can only stay a limited time, or offer a quick text while you're heading home. Whichever exit you choose, having done some thinking and preparation in advance might help you leave before things become uncomfortable.
You don't have to be on social media
This time of year, we all receive an inundation of family holiday cards and social media posts. We love celebrating our friends' and family's joy, but sometimes the photos can be a reminder of everything we're struggling with. We recommend being honest with ourselves about what feels good and what doesn't, and setting social media boundaries accordingly. Muting certain notifications or deleting your apps might help free up your peace of mind.
Your feelings are valid
The holidays are the season of joy and peace – so what happens when we aren't feeling very joyful or peaceful? Just know that difficult feelings are extremely common for many people during the holidays. Many people experience stress and pressure, and struggling with your family-building journey can add to those feelings. Please know that your feelings are valid during this time. We recommend having an outlet, like a specialized fertility therapist, or even a friend, family or community you can lean on. Honoring your feelings in this time looks different for everyone. That might mean setting boundaries, having supportive conversations, or simply taking the time to do things that make YOU happy.
During the holiday season, we suggest pursuing specialized support and counseling. You can find resources here and RESOLVE's tips for handling the holidays here. We're wishing you the best of luck this season, and sending all our joy and love your way.