Need a Holiday Survival Guide? Our guest blogger, Angela Bergmann, has one for you! Maria and I first met Angela at Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. this year. Thanks, Angela, for sharing your tips for dealing with Infertility during the holidays!
Infertile for the Holidays
The holidays are trying at the best of times. Add in being infertile, and the holidays can be a true test of will. I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be! Well, at the very least, we can take steps to make it through in one piece.
This Christmas marks the ninth year since I started trying to conceive that there won’t be a baby in my Christmas photos. Last year, for the first time ever, I had some small hope as I completed my first IVF retrieval and subsequent transfers around Thanksgiving and Christmas. After those failed, I was so sure I would cycle again and be pregnant before this holiday season. Alas, it was not meant to be.
Knowing how hard the past several holidays have been for me, and feeling like this one may be the worst yet, I tried to proactively prepare myself for this holiday season. I found a counselor that works for me, and I have actively tried to practice self-care. I also put together a “Holiday Survival Guide” for my RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association peer-led support group. Knowing how hard the holidays can be, I wanted to share some of the tips from that guide- lessons I’ve learned over the years that can help ease the pain of being infertile for the holidays:
- Practice self-care. Having a tough time? Stressed out? Treat yourself to a manicure, or a couple hours snuggled on the couch with a blanket and Netflix or a book. Whatever it is that makes you feel good, do it.
- Ask for help. A lot of the time people don’t realize we’re suffering because our disease isn’t visible. Communicate with those around you so that they know what you need (My husband says he would like to see this tip bolded and underlined).
- Say no. Remember, it’s okay to say no to things. The only way we can protect ourselves is by being our own advocate.
- Have an exit strategy. If you want or need to go to something, have an exit strategy. Conversation getting hard for you? Have a password to let your spouse know you need some air or that you want to go home. It’s also a good idea to have a way to tell them if you’re having a good time!
- Grieve. What we’re dealing with is sad, and is a grieving process. Those around us may not recognize that. Allow yourself the space to grieve what you are going through. If you’re comfortable, explain it to those around you.
It can be difficult, but try to remember that our family and friends aren’t trying stress us out… They just don’t understand what we are going through, and often just want to be helpful. They don’t realize that what they are saying is not helpful to us, as we are suffering from a disease.
The majority of the time they have our best interest at heart. If you are open in your struggle, educate them on the best ways to help you. Remind them that you are suffering from a disease, and that it’s a process. If that doesn’t work, excuse yourself and don’t feel bad for doing so. As someone once said, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” You have to take care of your own well-being if you hope to have any good cheer to spread!