Empty arms and silent hallways are a constant ache in your heart when you are waiting for a baby.
When the holidays hit, it’s like your pain increases tenfold. When you are battling with infertility it is hard enough to survive the holidays, let alone actually enjoy them.
Why do the holidays make it that much harder?
Many reasons, but one of them is the company we keep. We all have those relatives that we have shared holiday meals with…
“Why don’t you have kids yet?”
“So-and-so is pregnant with their THIRD…when are you guys going to catch up?
I may be a mother now, but trust me when I say…I have been there and I GET IT.
My Infertile Holidays
Thanksgiving during our IVF cycle is a painful memory. We had asked to be the keepers of our own story and made plans to do my injections in private. We were not ready to let the world in during that time. Everything seemed to be in order, but we made one major mistake.
My parents had known for awhile that something was up, but when it came to IVF we felt it may be time to open up our inner circle a bit for more support. We let all immediate family members know our situation because we felt the immense pressure of “family deserves to know.” Let me stop you right here. Do not tell people because you feel “you have to” in order to keep the peace. Your story is YOURS to tell when YOU are ready. Okay, so back to my story…
We told certain people even against our better judgement. Our secret spread faster than wild fire. I ended up having to do my injections on Thanksgiving with a storm of whispers filling the walls around me. In one of the most fragile and vulnerable times of my life, I felt exposed, isolated, and judged.
Some people want to know about your life because they truly care about you, others just want to be THE disseminator of information. Knowing the difference will really help you protect your heart.
Choose who you let in to your inner circle based on character, not familial standing. Watch for patterns of gossip. Do they always seem to be looking down their nose at people?
Now, let me address our sweet fertile friends and family that are safe to let in…
How to be Supportive
- Refrain from questions about growing families. If information is offered, listen. If it isn’t, don’t pry.
- Gratitude goes a long way. When someone is waiting for children of their own, they often still enjoy loving on other people’s children. Sometimes space is needed, but expressions of gratitude go a long way to bridging the gap. Avoid complaining about your children or talking about how hard it is to be a mother.
- Understanding that the “little things” are BIG things to someone really helps them feel more understood. Those piles of laundry and Target aisle temper tantrums are moments that many woman are aching to have for themselves.
- Send a card, text, or gift basket. Taking time out of your busy holiday festivity schedule to tell someone you are thinking about them is HUGE. Don’t be fooled by the fake smiles and the “I’m fine” automatic responses. Holidays are HARD for a lot of people and can be very lonely.
One of the best gifts I received was from a very dear friend of mine. She sent me the devotionals below to help my husband and I process what we were going through.
Invite them to join you for holiday traditions, or make some new ones. Invites, without any pressure, are always welcome. Some days it helps to do typical holiday stuff with families, other days it doesn’t.
It is good to have a balance of holiday traditions and creating new ones. Make time to do fun non-child orientated holiday activities, if possible. Decorate ornaments and enjoy a glass of wine, or watch Hallmark movies and make cookies.
Sometimes the best gift we can give someone for the holidays is our undistracted presence.
Ask them how they prefer to be supported, and do not take “I’ll let you know” as the answer. Offer suggestions and make an effort to get past the typical social customs we have created to avoid asking and receiving help or support. Remember, it is always harder to accept help than it is to give it.
These are just some ideas, but every person and situation is different. If you have received support that was very meaningful to you, please share in the comments below!
To read more about our infertility story, click the links below.