The holiday season should be filled with joy. But for many, it can be a time of stress, anxiety and sadness. This is especially true if you have experienced loss- loss of a loved one or a potential loved one for those who struggle with infertility.
As others celebrate, you find yourself suffering silently behind a fake smile.
You are not alone. You belong to the silent sisterhood of mourners for the loss of a wanted child through still birth, miscarriage, and/ or repeated negative pregnancy tests.
I want to acknowledge and celebrate you as you are right now no matter how you feel. I want to arm you with some holiday survival skills so that you are not knocked down to your knees the next time someone asks “why are you taking so long to have a kid?” or “just relax and you will get pregnant”.
When you are feeling sad and overwhelmed, the last thing you want to do is to socialize and put on that happy face. But the holidays bring increased demands at work and pressure to attend every social function with work, friends, and family.
Here are some tips to help keep you sane and get you through the holidays:
- Say no – instead of feeling obliged to go to every social function, decline gatherings that will trigger you. For instance, you do not need to attend your girlfriend’s party where conversations are child focused. Allow yourself self-preservation and self-love. Instead, offer a private get together with your friend(s) ‘sans’ kids to catch up at a later date and that might mean a time outside of the holiday season.
- Take a breather when you do go to holiday gatherings. Give yourself permission to walk away from well- intentioned but unwanted questions or remarks that are hurtful. When I was going through personal fertility challenges, I did not arm myself with quick come backs. If that works for you, rehearse your lines. Feeling beaten up and exhausted, I preserved my energy without feeling the need to explain myself. Instead, I would nod and smile politely, and then excuse myself from the conversation. One trick to avoid unwanted conversation is to busy yourself by serving food or drink or cleaning up. It’s a win-win. Your help will be appreciated as you are distanced safely from the small chatter.
- Create support around you by sharing your story or circumstance with one empathetic friend, co-worker, or family member. They can be assigned to deflect or deal with the unwanted questions while you walk away.
- Be authentic – you don’t have to pretend everything is all peachy when you are aching inside. If you are uncomfortable with letting out your emotions as I was at parties, allow yourself a safe space to do so, such as the bathroom or outside (while getting some fresh air) and talk it out with your community of support after the party.
- Keep a journal– get your emotions out by writing it down.
- Connect with your partner and have a nice quiet date night to keep the love alive!
- Practice gratitude daily– create a routine when you wake up, before you go to bed, or before meals, where you think about one thing you are grateful. Allow your mind to focus one positive thing in your life, even if it’s for 5 minutes at a time. You can practice this in the moment when you are at that dinner party after someone says something hurtful.
Take a screen shot of these simple tips and bring it with you to your next gathering. I wish you peace and love on your Pathway to Pregnancy.