With the holidays upon us, it's hard not to anticipate the onslaught of questions, feelings of alienation, and grief that can come up when we add family, friends, and parties into the already complicated mix of the fertility struggle. Not only is it hard to attend gatherings that revolve around the concept of family and children, but it's also hard to witness another year passing, as the holiday and New Year can feel like milestones in time. Even though I'm past the hardest parts of my own fertility struggle, I still cringe at the comments I get from my family of origin around our pending second adoption and their utter lack of understanding or support. Having just visited them for Thanksgiving (um, next time remind me to go on a tropical vacation instead), I realized just how out of touch they have always been throughout my family-building journey. So while I will opt for complete avoidance of my family as a future strategy, I know this is not possible for those of you who live within driving distance of your loved ones or feel obligated to spend the holidays with them! In these cases, having a plan for coping can be a really good idea. So I'll be highlighting several recommendations for coping with infertility during the holidays over the next few weeks. Here is recommendation #1:
1. Find an empathetic support person and have their phone number on speed dial. One of the gems I got from studying the work of Brene Brown was learning to discriminate when it comes to who has "earned the right to hear your story." Not everyone can lend an empathetic ear to our grief, sadness and shame. Sharing our deepest emotions with the wrong person can leave us feeling worse than we did in the first place. So seek out friends who can understand the fertility struggle and make a pact to support one another, especially during the rocky holiday season. There is currently a Resolve support group that meets at Acupuncture Denver one to two times monthly. I am so grateful this peer-led support group can use our space. It is a great, free resource where you can connect with others who understand and may even find life-long friends. One of my proudest accomplishments was my role in connecting a specific group of women in my yoga classes who have been an amazing support system to each other for over three years now. These amazing women who connected at my Fertile Ground Yoga class in 2008 still meet regularly and have supported each other through IVFs, pregnancies, failed cycles, babies, second IVFs, and more. It's a beautiful thing to witness the love and connection that grew out of their shared struggles.
Having at least one confidante who can understand your journey is a must-- make an effort to find someone to confide in if you don't already have one. In addition to the Resolve support group and Fertile Ground Yoga program here, we offer Fertile Soul workshops almost quarterly and plan to start a Fertile Soul sharing circle and group treatment session in the New Year (still in the works) modeled after the powerful group sharing/treatment that happens at Randine Lewis' Fertile Soul retreats. Also, REMEMBER: you are not alone. There are empathetic and understanding people out there to support you during this difficult time. Reach out, connect, and open your heart to someone who can bear witness to your struggle. More tips for surviving the holidays are coming over the next couple of weeks...so stay tuned.