When you have fertility issues, the holidays can feel like a punch to your heart every time you open up a card with tons of adorable children or see the many social posts of holiday traditions for children.
Every year, I tape the holiday cards to the front of my refrigerator. My first round of IVF failed around November of 2008. I got pregnant and miscarried six weeks later. So, with that first holiday, taping the cards up on the fridge was a bit painful. And then, trying to rise above feeling pity for myself, I kept the cards up until the end of January as usual.
When trying for my second, the cards-on-the-fridge tradition became a game of pain-and-torture. I had three holidays of taping up those cards and feeling finger-flicks of pain in my heart with every card I put up, and then staring at them for a month.
Don’t make the mistakes that I made. Be kinder to yourself and put yourself first—because you deserve it.
Here are some techniques that I have gathered and created throughout the years to help my clients deal with Holiday Infertility Pains.
1. Hide the holiday cards except for the ones that make you smile when you open them.
2.Get off social media until January 5. Removing social media is a freedom like no other. And the time you will get back in your life can be used for Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 6 instead.
3. Create an appreciation log. This log is simply the gratuity journal that Oprah has been telling us about for years. If you are often on the go, use a cloud-based organizational app like Evernote to keep the log. Research has proven that those who write about things they appreciate every day are healthier and happier. So, if the holidays are extra hard due to infertility, this is a great way to reverse some of those feelings. It is harder to be sad and feeling like your life is missing something when you actively notice and record all of the good people and events that surround you. And if the people around you are not making you a better, happier person, you now have your New Year's resolution completed.
4. Meditation feels like Valium. Download the Headspace app for a 10-minute guided meditation. Plan this into your schedule so you cannot skip it. If you do skip, you need a new time during the day to do it. And if you are very anxious, do deep breathing (into the nose for 8 seconds and out of the mouth for 8 seconds) for 2–5 minutes. Set your phone, so you do not have to check the time. And then do regular breathing, or guided meditation, for another 5 minutes.
5. Create a vision board. Include a positive pregnancy test, a picture of a baby ultrasound, a picture of a pregnant woman’s belly, a picture of someone in the hospital holding their baby for the first time (remove any faces), and a family picture with as many children in it that you ultimately want. Keep this in a place where you will see it multiple times a day. You can either cut and paste pictures from online or use Pinterest. Look at this board often and imagine you in those pictures. Feel what it feels like to be that person.
6. Talk to your BFF (Best Fertility Friend). If you keep all of this pain and negativity inside, there will not be enough room for your baby-to-be to grow. You need a completely clear mind and body. Call or text your BFF as often as possible to talk, vent and create strategies for your next journey to getting one, or another, child. And if you do not have someone like this in your life, I would be honored to be that person for you.