There are posts all over social media, Facebook, in particular, reminding us that not everyone is finding joy in the holiday season. Not everyone has holiday pictures of a loving family to post or stories to tell of the past year that makes them feel connected or happy.
Many of us with infertility feel gratitude. Joy and gratitude are not the same things though. And knowing that there are many reasons in our lives to feel grateful about is one thing- feeling gratitude is something else. Knowing that we are blessed enough to be able to live inside, have running water, have a roof over our heads, and food in our bellies is not the same thing as feeling it. Numb is a feeling or lack of feeling that many of us associate with unsuccessful fertility treatment cycles. Numb from disappointment and sadness.
Yes, we know we should be grateful. And often we are grateful.
And that is not joy. That does not mean we are feeling celebratory.
Lisa Schuman, Director of Mental Health at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT) responded last year to a question sent to her regarding the writer’s lack of happiness. Ms. Schuman’s response?
“Who said you have to be happy?”
What a great and appropriate question.
Maybe happy is a bit much to expect when you’ve just had a failed cycle. Maybe joyous is a real stretch too.
Read Ms. Schuman’s complete answer below. And give yourself a break about how you “should” be feeling this holiday season.
I am upset about going into the New Year without a baby. As a matter of fact, I’m upset about getting a year older without a baby, watching my parents get older without a grandchild and getting invitations to the first birthday parties of my friend’s children. I think about the “what ifs” all the time and regret that I didn’t start trying to get pregnant earlier. The New Year doesn’t seem like a reason to celebrate for me. I don’t want to be a stick in the mud, but I don’t know how to be happy.
First, who said you have to be happy? You can be sad about your losses, in fact, it makes perfect sense. Given the disappointment and hurt you have suffered, who wouldn’t feel upset, at the very least? Remember that all of your feelings are important, even the less appealing ones. It’s also important to have positive experiences in your life while you are struggling through your journey to get pregnant. So while you may not feel like attending the baby birthday parties or a big New Year’s Eve celebration, you may be able to think of something else to do that will be pleasant. Maybe going to a movie or having dinner in a restaurant where it’s unlikely you will see a lot of children (late night dinners are usually best) or even a spa. Finding pleasant experiences can get you out of the house, provide some pleasure and connection to your partner or friends and be beneficial to your overall state of mind. And know that while you don’t need to be happy, that is not a permanent state of mind either.
Good luck on your journey,
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