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Spring Holiday Survival Tips for Infertility
It’s that time of year that tends to revolve around babies, children and family. Whether it’s the eight-day festival of Passover or the endless Easter egg hunts, baby bunnies, chicks and chocolate, you may feel like everyone and everything around you is shouting "new life" and "fertility!"
"Spring holidays can feel just as difficult for infertility patients if if it includes family gatherings or if there is a focus on child activities," says Phyllis Martin, LPC, who counsels individuals and couples undergoing infertility diagnosis and treatment. "Any time there is a focus on gathering, or we are surrounded with family, it can be painful. It is painful due to questions and comments from those that we love, because we see children in our family and wish we had them as well, and because we measure how much time has gone by."
At least the media attention on the spring holidays is not so constant as it is for Christmas, Martin says. "The media bombardment of images, child-centered activities, etc., tends to be less with much less of a countdown to the big holiday. There are less expectations in many families to travel for an annual visit in the spring compared to fall holidays, and there is less of a built in 'annual review' type of thinking — compared to New Years — in which a person is thinking 'I assumed by this time next year we'd be pregnant.'"
When you are coping with infertility or undergoing fertility treatments, any family-oriented holidays can be painful. Answering endless questions about when you are going to start a family or watching other people’s children dye eggs is no one’s idea of fun. But drowning your sorrows in a Cadbury bunny is not the answer — and avoiding family celebrations is not always the answer either.
Instead, take precautions to protect yourself, including such things as:
- Prepare an answer to the dreaded kids question. Depending on who the person is who is asking, you can deflect the question with something like: “We’re working on it, and definitely having fun trying.” If you feel more comfortable, you can tell the person who asked a little bit more about what is going on.
- Have an excuse ready for cutting the visit short. Or, you can pick and choose what part of the festivities you will attend; for example, go to the sunrise service and breakfast, but bow out before the annual neighborhood Easter egg hunt.
- Be prepared with “talking points” that are not about young children, pregnancy, trying to get pregnant or fertility treatments. Even though you may be focused on your fertility issues right now, there are many other things going on in the world you can talk about.
If you are the friend or family member of someone experiencing infertility, contact the church or synagogue in advance and ask them to pay attention to intended parents, Martin recommends. "So often a minister will focus on new life, parenting — or even ask parents to stand up. It adds to infertility patients' feeling isolated and not understood," she says. "Ask for support directed at those that want to be parents as well. It is usually very well received by those I have known that speak up."
Martin also recommends making an effort to celebrate and encourage the concepts of rebirth, new life and starting anew during this time of year. "Some make very real, tangible efforts such as gardening — even a small container garden can be so rewarding," she says. "Others have a more symbolic rebirth by focusing on self-healing, self-improvement and mindfulness. Lastly, don't lose sight of what you are grateful for."
If all else fails, and you are really dreading the holiday, remember: It’s a three-day weekend, and those are few and far between. Take a break and go online to grab a last-minute deal at an adult-oriented spa/resort of your choice. "There is no shame in needing down time and taking care of yourself," Martin says.
And we promise, if you head off to the Caribbean, the Easter Bunny won’t bother you there at all!