I can’t believe that we are coming up on the end of another year. 2020 has been a very challenging year, and this holiday season will be challenging for many. The pandemic has added an extra layer of stress to an already stressful year.
Maybe this was the year that you were hoping to be the one sharing news of your bundle of joy with the family at the holiday dinner. Things have not gone as planned, and you have found yourself once again wishing that you will be the one making the big pregnancy announcement to your family one day soon.
The psychological impact of infertility on your mental health, anxiety, depression, guilt, and brokenness, is evident and looms as you think of spending another holiday consumed with thoughts of fertility treatments, miscarriages, or pregnancy loss. These feelings may increase as you prepare for the days ahead.
As we go into this holiday season, remember that taking care of yourself and your mental health should be your priority because your mental health matters. If you are a single woman or a couple struggling with fertility, know your limits of what situations you can and cannot emotionally endure when accepting invitations to any events, virtual or in person, this season.
It is probably hard to fathom another holiday season seeing your beautiful nieces and nephews running around, dealing with your pregnant family members, or meeting a new addition to the family. Even though you love and cherish your family and enjoy your time with them, spending this time with them may be extra hard over the holidays.
Be honest with yourself about any events that may be an emotional burden for you. If going to a family event will negatively impact your mental health, create a plan to help you cope. Write down and memorize some responses, so you’re prepared with answers to deflect pregnancy questions like “When are you going to start having children?”
Set up a time limit for how long you plan to stay at the event. If you’re attending with your partner, come up with a safety word that signals to them that you need help getting out of this situation. Know that it’s also okay to leave the gathering if you need to do so. If you feel close enough to share any details about your infertility with the host, let them know that this is hard for you, and although you love them, you have to attend to your needs and take care of yourself right now.
You also have the option to RSVP “No” to any holiday events that may trigger sadness, guilt, self-blame, and anxiety about your fertility. Infertility is challenging and tends to be especially hard during the holidays when surrounded by families and children. Taking care of yourself should be your priority and one that you should not feel guilty doing.
Find a reason to celebrate life and reward yourself for your endurance and perseverance. Lastly, begin a holiday tradition for you that best suits your needs, one that leaves you feeling safe and stress-free during this season.
I am a fertility psychologist in Los Angeles and offer complimentary 15-minute initial consultations. If you are a woman or couple seeking infertility counseling, you may click here to schedule an appointment.