So the holidays are upon us again, and perhaps you have some apprehension about the upcoming traditional activities that may not feel the same at this point in your life. Whether you are trying to conceive or you are or have experienced pregnancy or infant loss, this time of year can feel daunting. It can be hard to feel festive while the struggle to create your own family is in the forefront of your life.
Often people report that holidays where the focus is on children like Christmas are very hard especially when siblings and friends are all well into the family mode and their children are running about. This is a reminder of all that isn’t working right now. This of course does not feel good to feel left behind and alone in something that no one would ever dream could be so heavy and grief ridden. It is hard to explain to others that do not understand and sometimes may even be hard to muster up the energy to explain.
Infertility and perinatal loss are things that happen; that we cannot fully control. So this is a good time to take charge in places where you can, especially when holidays are inevitable. The new thought process may be “What can we do?” Plan ahead and decide what you are comfortable with as a couple. Make certain that you have signals for each other when you are ready to take breaks in terms of gatherings and festivities. This can be hard for loved ones to understand, and if it feels right maybe talking to them about it can help. Again it depends upon if this feels safe for you emotionally.
The rest of this is really looking at self care. What can you do for you? When we think of self care we think about yoga, a movie with a friend or a date with your spouse. These things are all good ideas, but I want to stretch this thinking just a bit more. I often talk to clients in my counseling office about self care and we look deeper than the go out and spend more money types of self care. Think of it this way. When you are managing your own struggle it involves your body and mind and certainly tests your faith (spirituality).
Anxiety and depression are often involved with infertility and perinatal loss. Our bodies need some love, our minds need a rest and reprieve, and we need to connect with our spirituality or at the very least with ourselves in a more positive way. That being said, lets take a moment to think back to a time before this struggle entered the scene. What is the most basic thing that you used to do that made you feel completely comfortable in your body and relaxed in your mind.
For example, before my struggle came along I was able to watch shows or movies in my favorite chair with a comfortable blanket and a cup of coffee, or float in my pool. I remember the feeling of not holding tightness anywhere in my body, and no worries on my mind. I was in complete mindfulness mode. Living in that moment, not a care in the world. I was at one with me and had faith that things were okay. When the fertility and miscarriage struggle entered this was a hard thing to remember. It wasn’t until I entered counseling that I actually remembered having felt that relaxed and at peace in the past and began to think about self care items that I could again find this place at least for a few moments at a time.
So the things to think about are what helps your body to feel that calm and relaxed. Is it relaxation meditations, guided imagery, watching comedies, painting, coloring, playing an instrument, listening to music, dancing or exercise? Whatever you choose see if you can make it playful. Include your spouse if you can. Grown ups need to play too. Buy silly putty or slime and get some sensory exploration going. Do a facial, or paint your nails. Whatever you can do either on your own, with your spouse or with a friend pay attention to the sensations and thoughts before and after the activity so that you can determine what helps and doesn’t help. Self care is something that we can control when all else is up in the air.
Finally, with the holidays coming and the added stress that you are experiencing, remember to breathe and take it all one day at a time. Learn to say no when it’s necessary and allow yourself to say yes when you want to partake in an activity. Most importantly give yourself permission to choose what feels right and let the rest slide for this year.
Good luck and many prayers for peace, hope and success finding your calm, mindful state! I have faith that we can all try for 10 minutes a day to reconnect with ourselves even on a small level. Even one minute is success!!