We live in a culture that tells us to be nice, say yes, and think about others above ourselves. This theme exponentially intensifies during the holiday season. While based on well-meaning principles, they principles aren’t always in our best interest.
Sometimes thinking about yourself before others is essential to taking care of yourself, maintaining energetic balance, and prioritizing health and well-being. In that spirit, we look ahead to the holiday season and remind our patients to be gentle with themselves, practice self-care, and remember that it’s okay to say, “No (thank you).”
The holidays are a known series of landmines in the fertility world. It’s difficult for those struggling with infertility to answer the same questions over and over, watch children delighting in the magic of the season, or attend dinners and gatherings with family members and friends who may be pregnant. Besides all that, it’s not easy to put on the expected “happy face” when you’re feeling anything but happiness or joy.
Your feelings are valid, and we encourage you to listen to your heart and inner wisdom over any “shoulds” and “have tos.” This is your opportunity to practice the personal emotional boundaries that are key to your mental and emotional health. We can tell you with great assurance that this skillset will be invaluable when you are a parent someday, and you’re learning to field all the yeses and nos that go along with that journey.
If you’re a “yes” person, you must learn how to gracefully but firmly learn to say No to the shoulds and have-tos that make you feel icky inside. Pay attention to your body. Your body will let you know when someone asks you to do something, attend something, or participate in something that isn’t right for you.
Symptoms of when it’s time to say No could include:
- Instant anxiety
- Tight or heavy gut
- Racing heart
- The loud internal “No!”
- Dreading an important event
- Resenting the fact you have to or the people involved
When going through fertility treatments, the holiday season requires careful planning, including learning how to say no to the things you don’t want to do so you can take the space you need.
If it feels safe, be as honest as you can with close friends and relatives. Consider sending them links to two of our most popular posts:
- Five Things Those With Infertility Wish You Wouldn’t Say
- 3 Ways to Talk to Someone Struggling with Infertility
Having this information supports family and friends who don’t know what to say or do understand where you’re coming from. Hopefully, that releases some of the obligatory pressure.
On the flip side of that, you don’t always have to be completely honest. If you feel dread or resentment about participating in something you’ve already committed to, give yourself permission to bow out and use the “I’m not feeling well excuse.”
Are you a yes person to the point that “Yes,” is your automatic knee-jerk action while the rest of you is already screaming and crying, “NO!” Then it’s time for you to practice five very important words: I’LL GET BACK TO YOU.
Other variations of this statement sound like this:
- I need to think about that.
- We need to check the calendar.
- Maybe. I need to check with “ X” before I can commit.
Giving yourself the space to determine how you feel, decide whether it’s an authentic yes or no, and respond gives you time to prepare what you’ll say.
The best way to avoid all of the typical holiday traditions and obligations is to do what thousands of other women and couples struggling with infertility do every holiday season:
- Get out of town and take a vacation
- Volunteer for local organizations to keep busy and help others
- Create plans with supportive friends on the dates you want to avoid things elsewhere
If you have something else on the calendar that fills your cup, it’s easier to say the Nos that deplete it.
Finally, this is a good time to remind patients that you are not committed to your original fertility treatment plans. Sometimes, couples become so attached to their fertility specialists or the story they’ve created about having their own baby that they forget they can say “No,” to their original fertility plan in lieu of other options.
If you’re feeling the infertility treatment overwhelm, maybe it’s time to:
- Take a break from fertility treatments for a while, especially over the holiday season
- Consider fertility options you haven’t in the past, such as donor eggs, donor sperm, or donor embryos
- Think about adoption or fostering to adopt
- Give yourself a set period to cleanse the mind, body, and spirit of the idea of parenting altogether for a while. Remember who you are independent of an infertility diagnosis.
Then, come back to a fresh table and re-envision things with a new perspective that considers the things you know now compared to when you started this journey.
The physicians, nurses, and staff at Fertility Solutions are here to support you any way we can this holiday season and beyond. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you need extra bolstering or to get ideas on how to say “no” from our supportive network of current and former patients who have walked the same path. As always, take good care!