It’s the beginning of the new year! That means typically new starts and fresh starts! Unless you are suffering from infertility, and that means we’ve been there–done that more times than we care to remember.
We’ve all read the blogs around the internet – “The holiday season can be exceptionally stressful” – You think? Well what about the post-holiday blues? Infertility is an equal opportunity disease, it causes stress regardless of what time of the year it is. However, even in the best scenarios and circumstances surrounding infertility, when coupled with the January blahs equals one big “S” which means Stress.
We put pressure on ourselves. It’s just what we do. Last year at this time we were thinking that “next holiday season we’d have our own bundle of joy to ring in the new year with.” We have pressures from the outside. Many of our family, friends and co-workers have families including children and they are busy enjoying the season while we feel much like a 5th wheel, when all we want to do is belong with all the other people with children.
It’s no secret that even though many feel that holiday miracles happen especially during this time of the year – you can’t make infertility, the pain that goes with it, or those feelings just go away miraculously. However, there is one thing you can do and that’s called “SELF CARE” – make a plan, a preemptive strike if you will, by planning in advance you will not only do yourself a favor, but a favor to those around you.
First things first. Admit to yourself that this is hard and it stinks and that’s okay. If you need to wallow, cry, be angry, and yell this is UNFAIR, just do it. Getting in touch with your inner person and embracing your pain is the very first step in coping.
1. Don’t over commit yourself. This is a time when you should be super selective about who you are going to hang out with. And it’s a no-brainer – if it’s a family function with lots of families, babies, and pregnant women, just say “No thanks”. You never have to say yes.
2. Whatever you do – don’t feel bad, guilty, or pressured into participating with the myriad of family friendly events. This is a time that you need to be focused on yourself and your partner if you have one. This isn’t a time to be a people pleaser and please your family. Your family is going to understand.
3. Have friends that are child-free? Hang out with them – make plans to go somewhere warm and tropical. Or maybe have them over for a holiday dinner instead of doing the whole big family thing – or find a nice restaurant that caters to adults.
4. If you find that you can’t get out of family obligations, double book yourself. Make sure you have more than one thing to do when you visit your family. It will give you an out if things get too intense. Especially if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed being around your young nieces, nephews and cousins. You might think about arriving just in time for the main event (opening gifts, having dinner, etc.) and then dining and dashing – that’s where the double booking idea comes in to play.
5. Do the things you like most. If you love to entertain, create that fabulous incredible meal. The one that is so labor intensive your friends and family will still be talking about in July! If you are a reader stock up on a lot of great books, or go to the beach and walk until your legs fall off!
6. Travel – Get away from it all. If you have a partner, what about a ski weekend? Or a beach in some wonderfully warm place. Or even a chalet with just the two of you. Even a weekend trip is refreshing just to get your mind off of the stressful aspects, and onto something fun and relaxing.
7. How about your own family traditions? If you are partnered, you are a family. You can create a ritual or a tradition that shows the love you have for one another with or without kids.
It’s important to share your feelings. If you were diagnosed with Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease or any other kind of illness you’d receive support from family members, friends, and loved ones. This is no different. Pretending that there’s nothing wrong isn’t healthy. Don’t do it. Its okay to feel.
You might be asking yourself “How in the world am I going to deal with those painful, difficult and sensitive questions?” Especially those about why I am choosing to use an Egg Donor and/or deciding to do an egg donation cycle with a surrogate mother!
• A good rule of thumb – decide ahead of time what you will and won’t answer. Or you might want to rehearse your answers ahead of time. It’s okay to create boundaries, they are healthy. Being caught off guard is the worst. And you do not have to disclose the details of your reproductive life – it’s your business not anyone else’s.
• When asked a question that you might find difficult you can always reply with “Why do you ask?” Usually this will turn the conversation into a more general format, where the person may just say that they are asking to see how you’re doing/feeling/etc. In which case you can answer more broadly and not have to go into specifics if you’re not ready.
• Surround yourself with support – RESOLVE, Path2Parenthood, INCIID, PVED, friends, family, online support of blogs, Facebook groups, etc. And those who already support you, make sure you tell them you appreciate them and that they are helping. We can’t have enough love or support in our lives.
One of the best ways of working through a painful or difficult time in one’s life is by giving back. You don’t necessarily have to give back in the arena of infertility. However, you can volunteer at a hospital, nursing home, soup kitchen, helping the homeless, visit someone who you know is bedridden, elderly or chronically ill. When you spread your smile and good wishes it’s contagious.
Keep your mind open – you might be one of those who has an infectious laugh, who’s bubbly in spirit, and makes others feel good around you – don’t close yourself off. Embrace those positive feelings. Experience something new – while you might not be feeling upbeat you can create great energy by helping others.
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.
Here’s where we talk about our partners (if you have one):
It’s important that you both stay in tune and on the same page with each other’s feelings and needs. This is a time when you should be able to say anything to one another and validate each other’s feelings.
If you’d like more information on using an egg donor and/or a gestational surrogate, please contact Fertility SOURCE Companies (The Donor SOURCE and The Surrogacy SOURCE). Our caring Case Managers would love to help guide you through this journey.