Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and feel grateful for all the blessings we have in our lives. But what if you’re not feeling particularly blessed right now?
You know that you have a lot you should be thankful for. But maybe you’re dealing with something hard, like infertility. And that’s making it really difficult to feel grateful for what you have, when all you can think about is what you don’t.
Family holidays like Thanksgiving can stir up negative feelings for those dealing with tough issues. Having family members ask why you haven’t had kids yet or seeing young children playing with their peas at the table can make it especially hard if you’re struggling to get pregnant.
Is it possible to navigate Thanksgiving without feeling down in the dumps?
Absolutely. Here are some ways you can do it:
Prep with a partner. A parent, sibling, or partner can help you feel less alone during Thanksgiving dinner. They can help deflect questions about having babies, pull you away from conversations if they get too heavy, and generally be a supportive friend in your corner if things get tough. Before Thanksgiving, pick someone you can count on and open up with them about your infertility. Tell them you could use their help and talk about how they can best support you on Thanksgiving.
Come up with a self-care plan. Being prepared is half the battle. If you have a feeling you may get upset at Thanksgiving dinner, come up with a plan of action to get yourself back on the right track. It may be as simple as excusing yourself and taking deep breaths in the bathroom for five minutes. Tell your partner from the tip above about your plan so he/she can be on the lookout and can help you if you’re upset.
Plan your answers. In reality, it’s likely that at least one family member will ask you about having kids. Friends and family members mean well when they ask this; they’re certainly not trying to upset you! So be prepared and come up with an answer you’re comfortable with. Whether it’s being honest about your struggles with infertility, playing coy and saying “who knows?” or saying that having kids is a private matter that you don’t want to discuss, any answer that feels good to you is the right answer. You’ll feel more in control when you already know how you’ll handle the situation.
Indulge in some self-love. In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, take it easy and give yourself some me-time. Take a nice long lavender bath. Re-watch your favorite movie (…even if it’s your 20th time seeing it!) Curl up and read a good book. Go out for a nice meal with a friend or partner. When you schedule some time to simply relax and de-stress, you’ll feel more balanced heading into Thanksgiving.
List five things you are grateful for. Issues like infertility can overshadow everything else in your life. I completely understand that. But no matter what you’re going through, I know that you have (at least) five things that are going right in your life. So take 15 minutes and write about them before you leave for Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe it’s that you have two eyes to read this blog post. Maybe it’s a great home with a warm and cozy fireplace. Maybe it’s Great Aunt Millie who means really well, even if she frustrates you. Forcing yourself to reflect on five things you’re grateful for will bring your focus onto the things you do have, and will put you in a better mood.
Be gentle with yourself. There is no “right” way to feel when dealing with infertility. Do whatever you feel you need to to be okay during this time. If that means leaving dinner early, or skipping it altogether, that’s okay! You are 100% allowed to say you’re not feeling well or graciously turn down an offer. Honor your feelings and do what feels like the best decision for you this year.
Infertility is a deeply personal topic, and can be difficult to discuss with family and friends. If you have questions about infertility but don’t know who to talk to, we’re here for you! We’d love to answer any of your questions about infertility during our next webinar. Sign up here.