Tips for Coping with the Holidays

I am a proud partner of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. I find that I am in alignment with everything that RESOLVE stands for. Perhaps the main reason I value RESOLVE so much is because of the friends I made years ago while in the thick of my battle with infertility. These women became lifelines for me when I was facing the most difficult challenge of my life, trying to build my family. The friendships we forged through our shared strife made such an impact on us that we decided to write a book together to share our stories. Thus the birth of our "paper baby," Detours: Unexpected Journeys of Hope Conceived from Infertility.

But RESOLVE has come to mean even more to me today than it did years ago, which is truly hard to believe. Through RESOLVE, I have the collective support of other like-minded individuals who want to help provide affordable access to care for anyone seeking infertility treatment. It is wonderful to be a part of an association who will provide an Advocacy Day in Washington DC for the infertile community and our supporters so we can lobby Congress with issues that can help us gain access to care for all. I felt supported from RESOLVE in the past during my struggle, but I feel empowered by RESOLVE today. I will be attending Advocacy Day on May 17,2017.  As part of a larger group, we can make a bigger difference for others who are facing the overwhelming challenges of infertility.

I scour everything I possibly can that RESOLVE publishes. Just today, I read an article on coping with the holidays that RESOLVE shared on Twitter. It took me back to the days when I found it so difficult to be with my family and friends and their children who were dressed in their Sunday best and hunting for Easter eggs. The pain was too much to bear. I thought it would be appropriate for me to share these helpful tips with you today, since it is Good Friday.

Tips for Coping with the Holidays

Attending Holiday Parties

DO: Be selective about accepting invitations to parties and holiday celebrations, especially the ones at which you know there will be a lot of children or pregnant women. Remember: you don't have to say yes.

DON'T: Feel guilty about not participating in all the traditional family events. You're going through a difficult time, and you need to concentrate on helping yourself and your partner get through the holidays.

Visiting Family and Friends

DO: Plan to spend time with couples or friends who don't have children if family festivities are too much to bear this year. Consider arriving just in time for the holiday dinner, rather than the night before if you find it painful to be around your young nieces, nephews and cousins.

DON'T: Rely completely on family traditions to fulfill your present needs.

Celebrations

DO: Spend time doing things you like best.

  • Prepare a spectacular meal, take long walks, go horse-back riding or jogging, or curl up by a fire with a good novel.
  • Plan a special trip just for you and your partner: a ski weekend, or a few nights at a cozy country inn. You may have to put up with comments like, “How can you be so selfish?” or “The holiday won't be the same without you.” But those remarks may be easier to bear than a holiday table packed with children.
  • Begin your own family traditions: a special ceremony or ritual that says that you and your partner are already a family, and that you can rejoice in your love for each other, with or without children.

DON'T: Pretend that there's nothing wrong and carry on with “business as usual.”

Sharing Your Feelings

DO: Decide in advance how you will handle difficult and insensitive questions.

  • You may even want to rehearse your answers. (You can decide to be honest with friends and relatives as to why you can't join certain celebrations and traditions which are just too painful right now.)
  • Express your appreciation to friends and relatives who have given you their love and support. Be sure to keep in close contact with your friends at RESOLVE; many of them are in the same boat and can understand and offer the support that perhaps your family cannot.

DON'T: Be caught off guard by unexpected or embarrassing questions about your plans for having a family. Plan your responses, but don't feel that you have to disclose all the details of your situation either!

Lending a Helping Hand

DO: Try to help others in need. Visit an elderly or bed-ridden relative; volunteer at a hospital or nursing home; or participate in a holiday program to help the homeless. Cheering up other victims of the holiday blues has a rejuvenating effect.

DON'T: Close yourself off to positive feelings and new experiences. You may find that you have a special ability to make others feel good, even though you're not feeling upbeat yourself.

Staying Tuned-in to Your Partner's Needs

DO: Set aside time to share your feelings with each other.

  • Allow yourself to feel sad, deprived or depressed. Infertility is a major life crisis, and you are entitled to those feelings. Talk with each other about your feelings. Your partner may be able to help you through the rough times.
  • Give yourself, and each other, frequent pats on the back for making it through the holidays. Remember to capture the “spirit” in each holiday which makes it special. Participate in activities which bring meaning to you at this time; create the joy intended in celebrating the holiday for its own sake.

DON'T: Get caught up in the whirlwind of the holidays and forget about each other. You need each other's comfort more than ever.

In closing, I hope you find a way to enjoy the Easter holiday and the coming of spring. I'm sure some of you may even participate in the tradition of coloring eggs. I thought I'd leave you with a funny fertility comic involving eggs... but more likely the kind that those going through infertility can relate to than traditional Easter eggs.  My dear friend and the artist of Detours, Madeleine Kimble, created this comic especially for me and I wanted to share with you. This goes out to all of you who have had or are contemplating IUI or IVF and have wondered if you'd end up having multiples. I hope it will give you a chuckle!

 In-Fertility & Friendship Cards: Imagined by Sue Johnston www.theinfertilityadvocate.com Illustrated by Madeleine Kimble: www.ByMadeleineKimble.com

In-Fertility & Friendship Cards: Imagined by Sue Johnston www.theinfertilityadvocate.com Illustrated by Madeleine Kimble: www.ByMadeleineKimble.com

Have an EGG-cellent day!