Holidays are a time for family, which can mean it's a time riddled with all kinds of unpleasant feelings, especially if you're trying to make your own and having trouble. I know, because this is my second holiday season without a baby bump, which is not how I envisioned things when I decided how my life should look (ha). As a result, I've learned how to survive the holidays when you're trying to conceive (TTC), even though it's full of ups and downs. You'll have good days when you're feeling hopeful, and bad days when you walk through your newly-decorated town wailing, not caring about that one passersby in their Santa hat.
What's helped me? Faith. Faith in myself, and my ambition to get what I want. Faith in my friends, who send me texts with the baby emoji on it that read, "Arriving soon." Then, of course, with faith comes a whole lot of self-care. I'm not one to believe in religious prayer — just not my thing — but if prayer is something you treasure, what better time to practice than during the holidays, when holiness is on fleek.
A therapist once told me that self-worth is determined by how much you can hold on to yourself in times of adversity. That notion had to sit with me for a while until I could fully understand what it meant. Here's what I came up with: knowing who you are can be painful because that means accepting your flaws. However, it can also be beautiful because no one else in the whole world is you. Some way, some how, I will have my baby. I know this like I know myself. The process is going to be flawed and it's going to have challenges. That's OK. The holidays are likely a time that will challenge you, but when you have your little one (and I know you will, because if you want something that badly, like me) you will do everything to fight the good fight. It's not going to look like how you thought it was going to look like, but you'll get through the holidays when you're TTC because you're a warrior. If anything, these following tips will just aid you.
Don't Compare Yourself To Friends And Relatives With Kids
Danger ahead. Do not go down this road. Comparison is the thief of joy, and wildly inaccurate. You see everyone and their sister with a baby, but there's a lot you don't see.
Let me break it down: According to Parenting, what's not so visible is all the couples who are trying and not conceiving. My general rule of comparison is there are always people ahead and behind you in line.
Put Your Needs First
If you absolutely can't stop yourself from comparing your life sans child to the lives of your friends and relatives who have kids, you have my permission to skip any and all events.
This does not make you a bad person. I repeat. You are the bomb dot com. You're taking care of your needs, and that's amazing and brave.
Have An Answer Ready For Inquiring Friends And Relatives
Having announced I was pregnant early on only made me feel terrible when I had to tell people that the pregnancy didn't take. But you know what? That's life.
Your friends and family who know you're trying to get pregnant will ask you, "Any news yet?" Take a deep breath and acknowledge that they are trying to be present in your life and care about things you care about. Have a stock answer at the ready so you don't have to stress about what to say. Oh, and pretend you're Sasha Fierce when you're saying it.
Work It On Out
Exercise releases endorphins, so you'll be a lot happier at the end of your gym class than before you went. Getting your sweat on can help keep you sane by getting your blood circulating and remembering that your body is awesome in all the cool things it can do. Even though you're not exercising to increase your fertility odds, according to Fitness, there's the added bonus that moderate exercise is correlated with increased fertility.
Switch up your exercise routine to celebrate the holidays in your own private way. Go ice skating, perhaps. I promise, a Titanic moment will follow.
Spend Some Time Volunteering
Not only is volunteering good for your community, it's good for your soul. If you think it's too much to be around people (I'm right there with you, ladies) then volunteer to walk dogs. Petting a puppy can literally bring me to tears (and that's not an effect of the fertility drugs). Something about their unconditional love sends me to my happy place.
Because the holidays are a stressful family time — no matter how many members in your clan — you want to go to your happy place on the regular.
Embrace Your Anxiety
Mind coach for moms, Cecilie Aslaksen wrote in The Huffington Post how embracing her anxiety helps her defeat it, saying, "Every time I feel my anxiety level starts rising, and I feel the need of disappearing, maybe start on medication again, or starting blaming others, I pause."
When anxiety-inducing times like the holidays roll around, and you're TTC, you might feel like "disappearing." It's exactly now that you need to embrace your TTC anxiety, and stare it down. You can do this. You're going to be a mother.
Confide In Good Friends
Sadly, not a lot of women broadcast their TTC troubles. I can count on one hand the number of friends I can talk to about my struggles, and get advice from the vantage of, "Girl, I've been there." Still, talking to friends normalizes the process, and is so important for that very reason.
Plus, your BFF is dying not to talk about holiday ham recipes; this I can say with certainty.
Consider Taking A Break Until After The Holidays
Keeping track of cervical mucous and slight bumps in your body temperature can be exhausting, not to mention, can make you feel less like a woman and more like a baby farmer. Add shopping, cooking, planning, wrapping, and trying to spread cheer to your roster to the mix, and you're going to freak out.
So, if you feel yourself super stressed out by the conception process, take a temporary break from TTC. You deserve to enjoy the holidays as best you can, too.