When Giving Thanks is Hard: Seven (7) Tips for Handling the Holidays

November 18th, 2019
Family praying at Thanksgiving

The turkey has been roasted, the stockings are hung, and the holiday festivities are in full swing. But there’s still one thing you don’t have: a positive result on your pregnancy test.

For most people, annual holidays are a time for giving thanks, coming together, and celebrating all of the beautiful moments in their lives. However, when individuals are struggling to conceive, the entire process can feel debilitating. Being surrounded by extended family can be a forceful reminder of the precious baby you still don’t have.

Before the season gets too overwhelming, here are seven tips you can do to alleviate the stress and hurt that can go hand-in-hand with the holiday season.

1.   Take the Words “Should” and “Need” Out of Your Vocabulary

It’s easy to get caught up in all the things you feel you should or need to do during the holidays. On the contrary, the only ‘shoulds and needs’ that deserve your attention are the ones concerned with taking care of yourself.

There’s so much involved in annual holidays like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, or Christmas. There are parties to attend, traditions to complete, and gifts to purchase. The sheer volume of activities is enough to make anyone’s head spin.

When you’re struggling with infertility during the holidays, there’s an added element of stress. Rather than focusing on the things you believe you must do, take a moment to consider what you want to do.

If going to your second-cousin’s annual Christmas party is too much this year, it may be time to graciously decline the invitation.

2.   Consider Hosting the Holidays Yourself

The prospect of hosting any holiday gatherings yourself during a struggle with infertility might seem counter-intuitive. But, in reality, it can be an ideal way to distract yourself from the more significant battle in your life.

When you’re playing hostess to a group of people, you’ll be bustling around your home, ensuring everything and everyone is taken care of. There will be very little time to sit down with Aunt June for a heart-to-heart about the likelihood of you having babies anytime soon.

Another benefit of being in charge is you make the rules and the schedule. By being the hostess, you can have an easy way out of any conversation you don’t want to have.

3.   Always Have a Game Plan in Place

Many things about holiday get-togethers can make infertility seem even more overwhelming. Between being surrounded by children and fielding uncomfortable questions, these types of events can be emotionally draining. Go into the season with a plan of attack. Consider the things you might have to face and decide what’s too much, and how you want to handle the situation.

For example, if watching little ones open their gifts is too much to bear, plan on arriving early or late to avoid that portion of the activities.

Unfortunately, questions about why you’re not pregnant yet are bound to come up. Have a segue in mind to leave any awkward or hurtful conversations. If there’s a group of people that understand your struggles and you feel comfortable with, don’t be afraid to stick with them for the duration of the event.

Lastly, there’s nothing wrong with inventing a signal with your significant other or friend to let them know it’s time to go.

4.   Plan on Post-Event Recovery Time

African couple eating pizza

You’ve made it through a family gathering and are feeling worn out from the experience. It’s time for some well-deserved ‘me time.’

Don’t be afraid to carve out some time to focus on yourself during the holiday season. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of activities to spend a little time doing anything that feels good. Turn on the Hallmark channel, gorge yourself on holiday cookies, or curl up in bed with a steaming cup of cocoa.

Infertility is difficult enough. Adding the complicated emotions involved with family get-togethers while trying to conceive can be downright exhausting. Learning how to manage stress while dealing with infertility is crucial.

5.   Do Your Shopping Online

Between choosing a donor and monitoring appointments, it’s easy to forget about holiday shopping.

Why not consider shopping online?

Not only will you avoid the potentially-triggering lines to visit Santa, but you won’t have to deal with busy stores and grumpy shoppers. Just wake up in the morning, pour a cup of coffee, and do your shopping on the couch while wearing your favorite set of pajamas.

6.   Go on a Social Media Hiatus

There’s something about the holiday season that brings on big events. Engagements, weddings, and – yes - baby announcements. When you’re staring at another negative pregnancy test or recovering from a miscarriage, the last thing you want to see is all the happy parents-to-be who have the one thing you want more than anything in the world.

The holiday season is the perfect time to go off the grid. Say goodbye to Facebook and bid Instagram adieu. Taking a social media break is one of the best things you can do for your mental health during a potentially trying time.

7.   Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Treatment Break

When a couple or individual is desperate to have a baby, it can be easy to get caught up in a continual cycle of treatments. If one donor egg IVF cycle or IUI doesn’t work, you move directly onto the next one.

While it’s easy to understand the endless desire to have a baby and do anything possible to conceive, the constant cycles can be mentally and physically exhausting. If you’ve come to the end of a treatment period and haven’t found success, there’s no harm in taking a break during the holiday season.

While the holidays are a time for love and joy, they’re also a period of nonstop activities and ever-growing to-do lists. Instead of penciling in blood work and ultrasounds alongside your Thanksgiving grocery shopping trip, why not relax and try to enjoy the holidays on their own?

Just because you choose to take a break doesn’t mean your journey to have a baby is over.

In fact, what better time to restart your quest for pregnancy than a refreshing new year? When the ball has dropped on 2019 and you’re ready to start anew, be sure to give Donor Egg Bank USA a call for any questions you may have about egg donation and infertility.

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