Infertility and the winter holidays can be a really bad combination. Ok, so that is obvious but let’s talk about why and how to cope. So much of the pain that accompanies infertility is about the precariousness of the dreams that we assumed would manifest into reality in our adult life. We’re cool with wild New Year’s Eves with friends and cozy Christmas/Hanukahs at our parent’s home during our twenties because that matches our station in life. As we age, we expect to start our own traditions and it can feel like a jolt when that is delayed due to infertility. We can end up in a no-man’s land of sorts. We outgrow the parties of our youth but don’t have the kids that we thought would anchor us into adulthood. At a deeper level, we start to see just how fragile life is. What we thought was a basic biological function- have sex without birth control=pregnancy- is no longer certain. What else can fail?
This is the under riding – theme of many emotions associated with infertility, however it is magnified when we are inundated with happy photos of kids and families celebrating the holidays. The salt is poured into the wound when we have to interact with relatives who have their own hopeful expectations of our fertility or complete insensitivity around it. I give some tips on dealing with that here and here .
It can also be problematic because as families grow, every limb of the tree has its own scheduling complications, so planning get togethers can be a logistic nightmare. The schedules and needs of infants and small children need to be prioritized but often families do that at the detriment of everyone else. You can find some good ways of setting boundaries and accommodating everyone here.
Lastly, as women and aunts and friends and daughters we are often the givers. We run from store to store to find the perfect gift, we stay late at the office so our co-workers can get home to their kids. We put all our energy into others. I urge you this season to do things a bit differently. Take time for you. Gift yourself something special. If you are short on cash, it can be a walk in the woods or a day on the sofa watching your guilty pleasures. If you have the resources, then take some time to think about what would make you really happy and splurge for it! For all you know, this may be the last holiday without a baby so indulge yourself while you can.