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Infertility Cubby

Getting Through the Holidays When You Don't Feel Like Celebrating
by Chelsey Langland

The months of November and December can be joyful times. There are many chances to eat, drink, and be merry, as we gather with family and friends. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanza, you can guarantee that there will be social events and family obligations that pop up on the calendar between now and the end of the year.

For couples struggling with infertility, holidays can be a painful reminder of a yet another year of failure; thoughts of, "I was so sure I would be pregnant by this Thanksgiving" are common. And in a season where a premium is put on family togetherness, what do you do when your family is not yet complete? Here are a few tips for surviving, and even enjoying, the season.

  • Give yourself permission to decline social invitations if they would be too painful. If you don't feel up to going to a cookie baking party where many children will be present, call with regrets. Invite the hostess out for an adults-only coffee, or get together after the holidays when things are less busy. Don't feel the need to give a lengthy explanation of your absence (unless you wish to do so); a simple, "I'm sorry, we can't make it that day" will suffice.

  • The mall can be a difficult place. Children line up, ready to visit Santa. Store windows advertise toys that you have no need to buy. If you can, do your shopping on-line; you can have everything delivered to your front door.

  • Remember that upsetting reminders can lurk in unexpected places. Many families include photos of children in their holiday cards. If you're feeling particularly low, these can be a slap in the face. If you aren't feeling up to dealing with the mail, have your partner open the holiday cards. You can still enjoy the nice messages written in the cards themselves.

  • Focus on the fun things that you can do. Grab you partner for a night out on the town, complete with hot toddys or real egg nog. Go ice skating. Enjoy a long, decadent dinner for two. Decorate your living space with lots of small, delicate, lovely things that would never work in a house with small children.

  • Observe religious rites as you see fit. Many people feel a great deal of anger with their higher power as their prayers for a child go unanswered. It can be difficult to give praise when you feel forsaken. If you don't feel comfortable attending Mass or lighting menorah candles, don't. You can make amends later.

  • Alter your routine. Don't feel like answering a million questions about your family status during the annual holiday meal at Aunt Sue's? Bypass the entire event by planning a wonderful trip with your partner. Spend December on a beach, sipping mai tais. Go to a spa for New Year's Eve.

Infertility impacts nearly every facet of life. It's okay to be selfish as you try to get through a difficult time of year. Hopefully, with a little planning and some patience, the end of this year can be a pleasant time for you and your partner.

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