8 Tips to Survive the Holidays with Infertility
If you are struggling with infertility, it goes without saying that big family holidays can be difficult, and even painful, to navigate.
The Christmas season in particular can be exceptionally painful, considering all the happy family Christmas cards, children’s festivities, and uncomfortable social gatherings you are likely to experience during the month of December.
If you are already feeling a sense of dread ahead of Christmas – we want you to know that we are here for you. We may not have all the answers, but we have put together the following guide on surviving the holidays that may help you cope during this difficult season.
A Practical Guide to Surviving the Holidays while TTC
Tip #1: It’s ok not to celebrate
If you need a timeout from the holidays this year – that’s okay! It’s perfectly fine to say ‘No’ to certain invitations, or even all invitations if that’s what would make you feel more comfortable. For example, certain events centered around children’s activities may be triggering for you, and wanting to minimize the number of triggers you are exposed to is valid.
You may feel guilty or regretful for missing these activities – however, it’s important to remind yourself that there is absolutely nothing wrong or shameful about taking action to protect your well-being around Christmas.
Tip #2: Find your own comfy way to celebrate
There is no right or wrong way to celebrate Christmas, and there is certainly no ‘must-do’ holiday list for any holiday.
That means this Christmas you don’t have to watch family movies. You don’t have to meet all the relatives. And you don’t have to send postcards to everyone you know. Only you decide what you want to do for your Christmas.
If you’re unsure about what you even want for the holidays, take a moment to think about what your ideal Christmas season would look like. You can then be proactive about making decisions about the holidays that reflect that vision.
Try to do what feels good and keep things light and fun! Here are just a few ideas to consider:
- Have a night in with some music and holiday Mocktails – here are 5 recipes to try if you are TTC.
- Make new memories by visiting a new park, restaurant, or city with your partner.
- Try your hand at making a Christmas craft such as an ornament, wreath, or gingerbread house.
Tip #3: Stick with your normal routine
Maintaining a consistent routine throughout the holiday season is one of the best ways to keep yourself happy, healthy, and grounded. In fact, according to Mental Health America, research shows that individuals with more daily routines experience lower levels of distress when faced with negative life events.
We know that it can get pretty crazy around Christmas, so it’s not realistic to expect yourself to stick to your routine perfectly. However, we do recommend choosing a few elements of your routine that you love – whether it’s practicing yoga first thing in the morning or sipping your favorite fertility tea before bed – and making a commitment to yourself to maintain those rituals throughout the holidays.
Tip #4: Ignore toy stores and Santas at the malls
Toy stores and Santas can be triggering if you are TTC. Even if you feel the pressure to buy gifts for your friends’ or relatives’ kids, it’s okay to avoid the trip to the mall and opt for purchasing a gift card online instead.
Remember – fewer triggers, fewer chances to be triggered. The result? A more balanced holiday season for your mental and emotional well-being.
Tip #5: Give back
Did you know that research shows that giving back to others can actually boost our mood, mental health, and outlook on life? More specifically, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health, volunteering can help to reduce stress, increase happiness, boost confidence, and help you feel a sense of purpose.
If you have never volunteered or donated your time to a charitable organization, here are just a few examples of places that typically look for extra help around the holidays: food banks, nursing homes, animal rescue centers, homeless shelters, state and national parks, local churches and community centers, and public libraries.
Tip #6: Prepare yourself to feel envy.
It’s only natural to feel negative emotions around the holidays if you are struggling to conceive. If you do start to notice feelings of jealousy, envy, and hopelessness start to creep in, remind yourself that these are all completely normal and valid feelings to feel.
While it’s okay to feel these negative feelings, it’s also important to not let these feelings fester inside of you. Even though it can be difficult to process, it may help to set aside time to vent by journalling, attending an extra counseling session, or speaking with someone you trust. You can also subscribe to our free and short email marathon designed to help you accept, process, forgive, and transform fertility envy (sign up here: 4 Steps to Heal your Pregnancy Envy).
It’s also important to remind yourself that miracles really do happen. And even if your wish hasn’t come true yet, you may find hope and inspiration from reading pregnancy miracle stories from others.
Tip #7: Find inspiration to re-charge your TTC journey
Those who have been TTC for a while know that the TTC process can feel like you’re running a neverending marathon. If you are feeling like you are at the end of your rope, it might be time to reset and recharge.
For yourself, you may find inspiration from speaking to a community of others also struggling with fertility. The Mira Community on Facebook is a supportive group where you can ask questions, vent, and seek support from others.
Other activities that can help you reset and recharge include:
- Creative activities like painting, crafting, cooking, drawing, singing, or playing an instrument.
- Adventurous activities like exploring a new city or trying a new restaurant.
- Connecting with nature through hiking, walking, or climbing.
This is also a good time to ‘reconnect’ with your partner by planning a date night, taking a trip away, and committing to spending some quality time together.
If you feel burnt out with the entire TTC process, it could also be a good time to take a fertility break by allowing yourself to stop all the testing, calculating, and planning. By giving yourself permission to enjoy the holidays, you can start the year feeling refreshed and ready.
Tip #8: Re-evaluate your expectations and set new fertility habits
The end of the year is also a good time to evaluate your expectations and think about what worked (and didn’t work) regarding your fertility in the previous year.
For example, you may be great at remembering to take your prenatal vitamin, but perhaps you could be more consistent with hormone testing and tracking. Or, maybe it’s time for your partner to take a male fertility test, too. It could also be time to make an appointment with your doctor to gain further insights about your health and fertility status.
Whatever you choose to evaluate and change, it’s important to be kind to yourself and build a plan for the next few months with care. If you need help planning ahead for your fertility, check out our article How to TTC in 2023: Building Your Fertility Plan.
Remember – the end of the year is not the time to beat yourself up or tell yourself that you have ‘failed’ at fertility. Instead, remind yourself that getting pregnant is a delicate, complicated process that can take time – and you are doing great!
Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season filled with peace, hope, and happiness!