The Holidays are upon us, made evident by the store decorations, commercials
and invitations; any of our unresolved issues of childlessness can become
bigger and more pronounced. This is also true if you are experiencing
secondary infertility. Individuals experiencing infertility are not only being challenged by
the "normal" holiday stresses, they are also challenged by the
grieving process that is built in to the
fertility treatment journey.
My hope for all of you is that you follow these self-care guidelines to
help ease some of these additional stressors during the holiday season:
Be Healthy Selfish
Please behave in "selfish" (healthy selfish) ways that suit
you and your spouse/partner. This means that the time you spend alone
and/or with family and friends must be filtered through what is manageable
for you in every instance. For example, it may be too painful to visit
a relative’s annual get together if the focus is centered on "who
just got pregnant," has the newest "baby," or any focus
on family building. Or attending your spouses Christmas party and putting
on a “happy face” could be quite hard to do.
Remind Yourself That Treatment Is Temporary
Remember that treatment, although presently all consuming, has a timeline.
You will not be an infertility patient forever. This is a temporary situation
and challenge in your life/lives.
Treat yourselves to a special event. This may be a play, a special restaurant,
a mini-vacation to a mountain cabin, or a massage, etc. This is one way
to offer self care through nurturing yourselves in a bite sized way.
Consider Your Obligations
Don’t feel obligated to visit family, friends or neighbors especially
if they are not aware that you are in treatment and especially if any
of these gatherings are stressful already due to other issues. When intense
feelings are so close to the surface, we may become overly sensitive and
react, then feel guilty and bad about ourselves. Our usual and customary
"filter" can be diminished.
Leave If You Feel Uncomfortable
If visiting with family, friends and neighbors is supportive, go with
the awareness that if the visit becomes difficult, you can leave at any time.
Don't Make Excuses
Don’t explain, make excuses for or defend your plans for the holidays.
This is a rightful decision for you, and it is helpful to honor and treat
yourselves with compassion and dignity. Your plans are no one else’s business.
Follow Healthy Guidelines
Try to follow healthy guidelines: Eat wholesome meals, get many hours
of rest and sleep, and use distractions such as movies, holiday light
displays, phone calls to trusted and empathetic relatives and friends.
Plan to attend and participate in a
support group, online or in-person, so that you are among people who understand and
do not offer unhelpful advice or make insensitive comments.
Take a Break
Take a short break from treatment, unless you are on a tight schedule
due to timing issues, and have an experience of being "yourselves" again.
Practice gratitude for the good things that you do have in your lives.
This may be a great job, a close connection to your religious or spiritual
support community, family, friends, financial stability, general and mental
health. Try to focus on appreciation and thankfulness for the areas in
your life that are going well.
By following this self-care tips for coping with infertility, know that
after the holidays, you will be ready and rested as you return to fertility
If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of Atlanta Center
for Reproductive Medicine's top fertility specialists, call 678-841-1089 or
schedule an appointment online.