When you are undergoing IVF and unable to conceive, the profound yearning to have a child is constant. It is an ache that never really goes away until you blessedly hold your baby in your arms.
Typically holidays or anniversaries heighten the sense of emptiness for childless families making this a very difficult time of year for those undergoing or considering IVF. Christmas and Hanukah are such child-centered holidays that there are constant reminders that you are spending these special days without your little ones. You are constantly questioning if you will ever be able to celebrate holidays watching your child’s wonderment and building memories.
Thanksgiving is a time of big family gatherings where you get to mingle with relatives and watch other family members enjoying their children. And you are reminded, sometimes even chided about not having your own. Even well-meaning questions from supportive friends and family members may be hurtful because they simply do not know that you are undergoing the IVF process. People often find themselves feeling lonely in a crowded room, unable to relate to those around them with children already.
Halloween may be the cruelest holiday of all because it is totally child-centered. You open your door to other people’s children dressed in darling outfits and exhilarated by the candy and the festivities.
Even Easter has its own set of issues with egg hunts and bunnies and chicks. Often people feel the anxiety and depression in an enhanced way when these holidays are festivals for children. While the holidays are such a joyful time for so many people, for those undergoing IVF each date on the calendar is a painful reminder that you haven’t reached your goal of parenthood just yet.
Anniversaries of failed IVF transfers or miscarriages or other losses are also a cause for anxiety and sadness. Sometimes people are even superstitious about these dates or details of IVF. We have had clients who did not want to transfer in certain months lest their child be born under the wrong sun sign or in the “Year of the……(insert name of unlucky animal)”.
So what can you do to cope with all of this and maintain your equilibrium while you navigate your own journey to parenthood? First of all remember that the universe has its own timing, and sometimes there is nothing to do but give in to it. It may seem diabolical at the time but later it will make sense.
Permit yourself to dream your dreams. Know that the memories will come true, they are just postponed. Someday you will have those holiday moments you have longed for with your own family. Steer clear of those people who are not empathetic to your plight. You have a free pass to put your own emotional needs first and if you need some space for the holidays or around poignant anniversaries allow yourself that.
Most importantly, hold onto hope and stay positive. “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Desmond Tutu