Tis the season to be jolly, fa, la, la, la … blah. While the holidays can be a time of great joy, if you’re struggling with infertility, it also can come with sadness and frustration. It starts with the toy catalogs taunting you in October, then the holiday cards arrive, “Season’s greetings from the (fill in the blank) FAMILY.” Not to mention the inescapable pregnancy and birth announcements on social media, “So much to celebrate this year!” It’s almost impossible not to think, “Why is that not me? Why am I ringing in yet another year without a baby? This was supposed to be THE year that it was going to happen for me.”
We get it. It’s not that you don’t want all of this joy and celebration for your friends and family. Understandably, you just want it for yourself as well. And that is okay.
The good news is you can get through these next few weeks, even without feeling like a Grinch the whole time. All it takes is a little fortitude, faith in yourself, and some focusing on a few important ideas:
Perhaps one of the most maddening things about the whole infertility experience is that it’s hard not feel helpless at times. However, there are things you can do to be more in control; to take charge of the situation instead of merely “letting it happen to you:”
- Take stock. Take a moment to recognize the steps you’ve taken to get you where you are now, writing it down if it helps. Take note of what you’ve discovered on your personal journey to parenthood. Acknowledge the strides you’ve made — even if that means simply learning more, looking inward more deeply, or becoming more open to possibilities. Although not all of these may seem like huge accomplishments, know that each one has helped (and is helping) you on your path forward. L
- Learn more. While now is not the time to dive down every rabbit hole on the internet, it could be the perfect opportunity to learn a little bit more about one thing. That could mean reading personal stories of people in your same boat, or maybe learning more about the many paths to parenthood. Take for example frozen eggs from Donor Egg Bank USA. Did you know that our frozen donor eggs are available for immediate shipping to your clinic, have a 62% success rate and (in some cases) even come with a live birth guarantee: bring home a baby or get a 100% refund?
- Do some thinking. Really take a moment to consider what will drive your decisions moving forward. How much more time, money or emotion are you comfortable investing in the next step? What do you need to know about financial planning? What are you (or you and your partner) okay with risking, sacrificing, or embracing? (Sometimes that simply means how much uncertainty are you comfortable with.) What options for starting a family make sense right now for you? What does “success” look like?
Take care of yourself.
Look, at the heart of it, these holidays — these “special” days — are just days like any other, but are simply highlighted on the calendar. If you have been thriving — or even just “handling it” — up until now, there’s no reason to throw in the towel just because the calendar tells you to. However, now could also mean it’s time to put a bit more focus (and forgiveness) on you:
- Pamper yourself. You are going through a struggle that probably very few people are even aware of. Treat yourself right — with a massage, an afternoon nap, a brownie, or whatever feels comforting or luxurious. And (at the risk of sounding like that nosy neighbor with the “Just relax. It will happen” comments) there does seem to be some scientific evidence to support the notion. A 2001 study from Harvard University Medical School reports that for women struggling to conceive, relaxation techniques (such as group therapy or meditation) more than double the chances of successfully becoming pregnant. Regardless, doing your best to de-stress during the holidays is just a great idea for everyone.
- Give yourself permission. Feel like your little niece’s holiday program will be too much for you right now? Gently decline the offer to attend. Your support system will understand your reasons why. Or, do you feel that being around all those children and happy families gives you hope? Then go ahead and indulge yourself and embrace that feeling.
- Be prepared. For most people the holidays mean socializing — encountering more people and more questions. The queries range from the innocently well-intentioned (“Gosh, I thought you guys would have kids by now.”) to the intrusive and insensitive (“No kids! You better hurry up. You’re not getting any younger.”) Decide now how you will respond to each type. Maybe it’s a vague acknowledgement, “Oh yeah, maybe someday.” Or if the situation warrants it, a more pointed response, “Yep, I’m getting older, but I’ll always be younger than you! Could someone send those delicious rolls to this end of the table please?” Thinking about these exchanges in advance will help you be prepared in the moment.
- Speak up. Not everyone knows what you are going through, but for those who do understand your struggle, now is the time to enlist their help. Be clear about how you’re feeling (knowing that those feelings might change each day), about what you need … right now, and about how they can make things more manageable, or even better.
- Lean in. Has meditation, hiking, needlepointing or something else been helping you feel better? Then find more time for that. Keep on doing the things that make you feel as though you’re moving forward. Decide what you need right now and do it. Want to go out and socialize? Great. Want to spend all Saturday binge watching your favorite show? Also great. You get to define what a “happy holiday” looks like.
And again, keep reminding yourself that this is simply the holiday season, not an eternity. The extra stress, challenges, and emotions this time of year can create will not last forever. Come January 2, the holidays will be gone. But you (with all your hope, knowledge, support, and determination) will still be here and ready for whatever lies ahead.
To find out more about using frozen donor eggs to help grow your family at any time of the year (including information about our Assured Refund PlanTM) just reach out to our qualified team at Donor Egg Bank USA to have all your questions answered. Or, if you’re ready to get matched to your ideal donor, start your search here.