This post was written by Kristin Marsoli, Marketing Director at Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation, cancer survivor and parent through surrogacy.
I remembered thinking how exciting it would be to announce to family and friends while we were celebrating Christmas that we had one more thing to celebrate: we were going to have a baby!
Like all other rounds of IVF before this one, I was optimistic that this was the time we would be successful. I kept this secret hope to myself (as not to jinx the cycle, of course).
This particular journey started in the fall. I was giving myself daily injections to help increase the number of follicles for our egg retrieval date. Our retrieval produced 9 eggs (not great, but not horrible for a ‘woman my age’, which is how fertility specialists referred to me), and then a small number of viable embryos. If we transferred in late Fall, our surrogate would be pregnant, and I could announce the pregnancy to family and friends during the holidays when we were all together. The perfect plan!
Our transfer, however, wasn’t successful. And if we wanted to try again with another transfer, we’d need more embryos. So there I was – my midsection resembling a pin cushion, my bloat causing nothing in my closet to fit, and another failure hanging over my head – about to head into the happiest, most cheerful season of the year. Ba humbug.
December is a season filled with social commitments – both personal and professional – and the expectation that you be cheerful and happy. But all I wanted to do was put on fleece pajamas and curl up on the couch and be unsociable. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I didn’t want to see anyone. I didn’t want to pretend to be jolly. And I certainly didn’t want to answer people’s dreaded questions about when we’d be growing our family.
Infertility sucks any time of year. But during the holidays, it can be even harder to endure.
If you’re facing infertility and the holidays, be sure to take care of yourself (physically, mentally and emotionally).
Tips for getting through the holidays with infertility.
Here are some tips to help you get through what can be a difficult time of year.
Take care of you. Carve out time for self-care – whatever that may look like for you – and scheduling it into your day, just like a work meeting or an appointment. That may be exercise, taking a relaxing bath, reading, or getting coffee with a good friend.
Spend time with your inner circle. Spending quality time with people who are close to you and support you in your journey can help make the season a little more bearable. If you’re comfortable, take this time to express to them how difficult this time of year is for you.
Let yourself say “no”. Just because you’re invited to a party or event, doesn’t mean you have to attend if you’re not feeling up to it. Give yourself permission to say no to events if you don’t feel comfortable attending or are just not up for it. If you don’t want to go, more than likely you won’t end up having a good time.
Be prepared. When you’re going to be in a setting with people who may not know what you are going through, having a rehearsed “one liner” to respond to their questions will help you navigate the conversation. Try something non-committal such as, “Only time will tell” and then move on to another topic or physically move on to speak to someone new.
Have back pocket conversation topics ready. When you’re headed into a social situation where you will be surrounded by others who may not be privy to your personal list, it’s helpful to have a repertoire of topics ready to talk about with them that feel ‘safe’; such as a project you’re involved in at work, a recent trip you took or will be taking, any DIY projects you have going on, or even something as simple as a book you recently read that you enjoyed.
Have a social wingman or wingwoman. If possible, use close friends and family to communicate on your behalf prior to arriving at an event. That way, if there is a nosy
Take a break from social media. Look at the holiday season as a time to disconnect a bit from social media and reconnect with those who are close to you. You may also consider refraining from visiting online chat boards and forums related to infertility and pregnancy.
Attend a local support group. If there are support groups available to you, try one out. Just being in the same room/phone call with others who are having a similar experience can help reduce stress. To find a support group in your area, Resolve can help.
Enlist close friends and family. Use those that are close to you and your situation to communicate on your behalf prior to attending an event by having them reach out and suggest that they not ask about ‘baby making’ or timelines. Many well-meaning family members may not get the hint to not discuss certain topics or ask certain questions and may need a little reminder.
The holidays can be tough, but you are stronger. It’s okay to not feel your best, both emotionally and physically, during this time of year. Hopefully the tips above help you survive the holidays with a little less stress and a little more cheer.