On the surface, the holiday season is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, filled with joy and cheer. However, the reality for 1-in-8 couples struggling with infertility is that the holidays can often be triggering. Whether you’re facing an infertility diagnosis or know someone struggling, we’re sharing advice on how to navigate the difficult emotions attached to infertility and offer support around the holidays.
5 Ways to Cope with Infertility During the Holidays
- Be selective with events. Although you may feel like you should go to all the events that you are invited to, protect your energy, and only attend parties where you will be in the company of loved ones who know and understand what you are going through. You can also take this opportunity to create relationships with other couples who may be in a similar situation.
- Know your triggers. If seeing pregnant women or babies is too difficult for you, it may be a good option to avoid social events geared toward children and families.
- Choose what to share with others. Curious strangers or family members may ask the dreaded “when are you having kids?” question. Be prepared with responses and how much of your journey you want to share.
- Take a break. If the worry of infertility during the holiday season seems too much to bear, it is okay to take a break from trying. Planning a relaxing weekend with your partner may help to get your mind off things. You can always resume fertility treatment in the new year. Your mental health is the top priority.
- Seek out support. Surrounding yourself with close friends and family can help you to feel supported around the holidays. Attending an outside support group can also be helpful. Finding peers that can relate to you and a counselor to offer advice can offer added support.
5 Tips for Infertility Etiquette for Friends and Family
- Avoid asking pregnancy questions. Couples often get questions around the holiday about family planning like, “When are you going to have kids?” or “Have you started trying yet?” or “When is it time for another?” These seemingly innocent questions can have a significant impact on couples who are struggling to conceive. These questions can become additional reminders of what struggling individuals and couples don’t have, despite how hard they may be trying to achieve their goal. Instead, focus your conversation on less personal or triggering topics, such as the person’s other hobbies, passions, recent travel, or career interests.
- Don’t give unsolicited advice. Although it’s our natural instinct to want to provide advice and help to our friends and family, offering unsolicited advice can be especially hurtful to couples trying to get pregnant. Simple statements such as, “Just relax, once you stop thinking about it, you’ll get pregnant” can be insulting to a couple who has undergone months of fertility treatments without success. To these friends and family members, over-simplification of a very complex and emotional journey can be off-putting. Instead, if a friend or family member opens up to you about their struggle to conceive, it’s often most helpful to simply listen and offer your support instead.
- Don’t minimize the problem. When trying to conceive, the last thing a couple wants to hear is, “Things could be worse” or, “Well at least you have…” It is important to remember that infertility is difficult on everyone, whether they express it openly or not. Trying to grow a family without success can be hurtful emotionally, physically, and even financially, especially during the holiday season.
- Don’t push adoption. Adoption is a deeply personal decision that requires a lot of thought and dedication. While this is the path that some couples may choose to take to build their family, it is may not be right for everyone.
- Let them know you care. Above all, if you know someone who is struggling, show them you care. There are so many ways to show you care such as sending a card or gift, or offering your time to help them run an errand during the busy holiday season. A small act of kindness can help those struggling with infertility to feel less isolated and lonely.
If you or someone you know is struggling with infertility, there are specialists that can help. Your Axia Women’s Health OB/GYN can provide a referral to a fertility specialist who can answer any questions you may have and offer advice about potential treatment options.