With Christmas less than a week away and New Year’s Eve just a week after that, I wanted to round up some of the best advice I’ve been given and read about getting through holiday gatherings with infertility. As I shared last month, my infertility journey has shaped how I’ve experienced the holidays in recent years. Sure, it’s a joyous time of year, but is also often a reminder of what, or who, is missing from your life.
1. It’s okay not to accept every invitation extended to you. Maybe you don’t want to attend a gathering full of pregnant bellies and babies or attend holiday performances of the young children in your life. This doesn’t make you Scrooge. It just means you know your limits. Stop by after the kids have gone to bed, come after the presents are open, or just skip it altogether. It may sound harsh, but so does suffering through something that will only make you feel bad.
2. You don’t have to hold the babies if you don’t want to. Typically, at these big gatherings, babies get passed around so much that no one will notice. If you feel uncomfortable, find ways to keep your hands busy or be just honest and say it’s too much of a reminder of what’s missing – afterall, these are your family and friends.
3. If you want to hold the babies or play with the little kids, do it! This is always my preference. Sure, it makes my heart hurt a little bit but it’s also a reminder that the uncertainty and longing is so worth it.
4. Be ready to answer “those” questions. Prepare yourself, as much as you can, to be asked when you will start or grow your family. Decide if you are going to be honest about your situation, make a joke, or provide a vague response. The questions will inevitably come, but you are in control of how the conversation goes.
5. Remember – tis the season for surprise baby announcements. Also remember, it’s possible to be ecstatic for someone else while your heart breaks for yourself. It doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you human.
6. Make time for you. Plan a pedicure, a quiet trip for coffee or a lazy morning on the couch. Be the last person to arrive or the first to leave. Take care of you and your spouse.
7. Let your mind wander. Don’t be afraid to think about what the holiday will be like when you do have a little one.
8. Enjoy the moments…now. Make memories with your spouse. Start traditions that you can share with your children one day. It’s easy to focus on what’s missing and lose sight of the wonderful things that are in your life. Do your best to find a balance of both. Be thankful and celebrate what you have while hoping for more in the coming years.
If you are on the infertility journey with me, I am thinking of you the holiday season. If you are the friends or family of those on the infertility journey, I am thankful for support (learn more about supporting your loved ones facing infertility).
Merry Christmas, and best wishes for a happy 2016!
Melissa Kimball is a marketing communications professional who lives in Whitehouse with her husband, Bob, her toddler, Hope, and boxers, Blue and Bo. You can read her monthly columns by clicking here.