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Coping with Infertility by Creating New Holiday Traditions
March 27, 2013
Not unlike the winter holidays, Easter and Passover are filled with family-focused events, traditions, memories, and a certain level of expectation to participate in family gatherings. When you’re coping with infertility during the holidays, you may not feel up to visiting with family and friends particularly if there will be children present or you anticipate hearing the dreaded “When are you going to have kids?” question.
Jennifer Adams, Ph.D., a psychologist who specializes in women’s reproductive health in Denver, Colorado, believes that we expect the winter holidays to evoke emotions and reminders about infertility, but don’t realize that spring holidays can do the same. “Spring holidays can bring up a lot of emotion. We expect the winter holidays to bring up emotions and don’t expect spring holidays to do so. We can be taken by surprise,” she says. In particular, family dinners or child activities like Easter egg hunts can be an unexpected reminder of the struggle to build your family. It is important not only to anticipate these situations, but also prepare ways in which you can respond and focus on your emotional needs as well. This may even be the time to create new traditions.
Marjorie Blum, Ph.D., a psychologist specializing in fertility issues in Atlanta, Georgia, says spring holidays can be seen in a very traditional light as celebrations of renewal, new life, and fertility, but it is up to the couple to change the way they view the holidays. “Sometimes looking at this time of year as an opportunity to develop or renew something in yourself that you have been neglecting because of fertility challenges is helpful,” she says. Reflecting on your needs and enjoyments can help couples reevaluate their relationships, personal goals, and can take some of the focus off of spring holiday traditions or symbols.
Here are some ways you can create new traditions during the spring holiday season:
- Plan a vacation for the holiday week.
- Go away as a couple; don’t talk about infertility while you’re away.
- Use this week as your time to map out garden plans or DIY home projects each year.
- Set health goals for the year, like a new exercise plan. Revisit your New Year’s resolution.
- Volunteer at a hospital or shelter during Passover and Easter week.
Whether you are creating new traditions or decide to partake in the holiday events, be open about your emotional limits and understand that you have the right to experience these emotions. “The couple or individual dealing with infertility has the right and responsibility to decide what they can and cannot tolerate and to speak that truth. The family has the right not to like it,” advises Dr. Blum. You should not feel guilty or selfish if you choose not to attend an event. Let your family and friends know that you are working toward new traditions and perhaps you will visit for dessert after children are asleep or come for dinner after the egg hunt.
If you do visit with family, be prepared for the baby questions, deflect them, or reveal only as much information as you feel comfortable sharing. Dr. Adams recommends creating a code word or phrase with your partner that signals you need to be rescued from a conversation or want to call it a night.
Remember, you and your partner are a team in the infertility journey. You will get through to this together whether you participate in new traditions or old.
For additional support during the spring holidays, visit FertileThoughts.com to talk to other men and women coping with infertility.