My Holiday Survival Guide
My social media feed goes through phases. Five years ago it was travel photos. Two years ago it was engagements and weddings. This past year my phone has exploded with ultrasounds, baby bumps and birth announcements. A time-honoured tradition, I’ve lost count of how many classic Santa photos have popped up on my feed this past month. This customary photo proudly displayed on fridges across Canada is a source of happiness for many. If you are someone struggling with infertility however, the holidays can bring a lot of sadness during a time meant to be joyful. Finding positive ways to cope can help you make the most of the holiday season, and also allow you to also partake in this wonderful time of year.
The holiday party: Do you go? Do you stay?
This is entirely about what feels comfortable to you. What works for one person going through fertility treatments will not be the same for the person sitting across from you in the waiting room. If you prefer to mingle with adults, think about when children are likely to be present and plan accordingly. If the party is during the day, most kids take an afternoon nap after lunch. If you are not comfortable being around children, show up after 1 pm. The same for evening parties; most parents need to be home for a 7 pm bedtime, so feel confident being fashionably late. On the contrary, if being around friends and family and their little ones bring you joy, then soak up these precious moments together.
The questions: When are you having kids? Planning on having a sibling for Sally this year?
This is one of my biggest pet peeves. First off, does anyone really ever know when they are going to have kids? Pregnancy is truly a miracle and not something you can exactly plan. Secondly, it is none of your business! I realize most people ask out of excitement and good intentions, this question can be crushing for many. So how do you answer when it comes up at the office holiday party or your family Christmas dinner?
- Laugh it off and change the subject
- Say we’re not sure and quickly change the subject
- Give a short explanation of your current struggles (if comfortable) and change the subject
- Tell them it’s a very personal question….and change the subject
Prioritize yourself this December. Do not feel guilty about saying no to events or invitations you’re not comfortable with. You don’t need to attend every single holiday event, especially if it will be a trigger. In these cases, find an activity you enjoy doing instead with a friend or partner. Book a massage, get your nails done, visit the Christmas market at night, or go ice skating outdoors with hot chocolate. If you feel okay discussing your fertility journey, let the host know why you cannot make it. Offer to come help set up ahead of time, or meet on an entirely different day one on one. A true friend will be understanding of your feelings.
Spread joy to others
Volunteering for a worthy cause is an easy way to bring back that warm and fuzzy feeling inside your heart. Organize a food bank donation at your office, order a used clothing donation box from the Canadian Diabetes Association, or assemble Kits for a Cause for a local charity in need. This can have an incredibly positive impact on your mental health and wellbeing, all the while helping those desperately in need around you.
If you’re looking for additional support during this time, I recommend connecting with a counsellor in the GTA who specializes in fertility care. I have several great options linked at the bottom of the page HERE.