This time of year can be especially painful for couples experiencing infertility. Many couples feel isolated at family holiday gatherings and wonder how they belong if they haven’t yet become parents. Some notice an intense focus of being the sibling without kids or feel a heavy heart from the loss of not providing a grandchild for their parents. Some worry about other family members feeling sorry for them or fear that others are secretly talking about their infertility situation. The year-end also represents the passage of time, and can heighten feelings of loss around not having a family. It’s also the darkest time of the year when people generally feel depressed or have low energy, on top of general holiday stress for the most ‘wonderful’ time of the year.
Here are some ideas on how to navigate this complex time of year.
Plan together ahead of time how to respond to unwanted questions about family building or unsolicited advice from others. Some couples create a code word or phrase to help each other exit uncomfortable situations.
Be selective about which holiday parties to attend and try to focus on adult get-togethers without young children present.
Give yourself permission to step outside or even leave an event if you feel overwhelmed.
Create rituals for you and your partner as a family of two.
Spend time treating yourself or doing activities that you enjoy.
Exercise or at least get outside for a walk daily to have a release.
Make space for your feelings.
Turn to your partner and friends who can hold what you are going through for support.