The holiday season is in full swing. In the midst of Hanukkah and with Christmas right around the corner, I've heard from many friends who are struggling with how to cope during this difficult time of year - especially when it comes to family gatherings.
I've always been a big advocate for self care/preservation. I can't count how many times I had to back out of events or gatherings because I wasn't emotionally capable of handling it. Events with children were especially overwhelming.
So, I'm here to tell you that it's okay to skip out on the holiday events. That's right. I'm actually suggesting ditching your family.
I love my family. I truly do. But I wish I had listened to my own advice and bailed on them at least one holiday season of the four I endured while childless. This is a painful time to cope with this disease. There are the holiday commercials and the kid-centric events (such as meeting Santa or opening gifts). This is also the end of the year. Each January, all of us have renewed hope about conceiving or bringing home our child. By December, we are run down. We've tried our best, and we still haven't succeeded. The holidays only serve as a reminder of the end - another year gone by without becoming a parent.
Why endure sitting through the torture of large family dinners or those kids opening their gifts?
Family means well, but they don't understand what it's like to be surrounded by such cheer when you aren't feeling very cheerful yourself. Your crazy, drunk cousin doesn't get that saying "at least you can still drink!" is painful. Your mom doesn't get why you don't want to hold your sister's baby and pose for photos.
But I do. I get it. I've been there. That's why I'm giving you permission to not deal with it. Stay home. Fake illness. Book a last minute trip out of town. Do whatever you need to do. Just don't force yourself to participate if you aren't in a place to do so.
YOU are what's important - your well being. Take care of yourself. Take this time to refresh and rethink your goals for next year. Connect with other couples going through the same thing, if you can, and celebrate the holidays together. (Because you KNOW an infertile couples' holiday party would be a much better time than dealing with Uncle Ned's questions about your barren uterus.)
And be kind to yourself. It may have been a rough year. But 2013 is a new begininning.
For more tips on how to cope with infertility during the holidays, visit RESOLVE's website.