Coping with Infertility During the Holidays
If you are dealing with infertility, you know there are more things to loathe about the holidays than crowded shopping centers and fruit cake. For women and couples dealing with infertility, the holidays can be especially brutal.
Just about everything you do in the month of December will revolve around families and togetherness. When your cousin Betty innocently remarks that some days she wishes she could ship her three-year-old to the moon, don't be surprised if it stings a little. Of course, not all of your encounters will be so subtle.
You might find that planning ahead for those awkward conversations gives you a little more grace when it's time to deal with pushy or insensitive family members. Practice these with your partner before the big get-together.
So, when are you and John going to start making a family of your own? I bet your mom can't wait to be a grandma!
What you want to say: Mind your own business you soul-sucking shrew.
What you might say instead: I promise to tell you as soon as we have any news.
An honest alternative: John and I are struggling right now with infertility. We might not be able to conceive for years.
I thought you and John would have at least three little ones by now. When are you going to get pregnant?
What you want to say: John and I thought it wasn't right to bring a child into the world until we were sure you had a life of your own.
What you might say instead: We'll get right on it. We only recently discovered getting pregnant had nothing to do with the drinking water.
An honest alternative: We've been trying for years and are hopeful that the doctor can help us conceive.
You and John are so smart, not having kids. They are so much work!
What you want to say: I know. I really do prefer the feel of a dry, dusty womb.
What you might say instead: Yeah, they're a lot of work, but they really are worth it.
An honest alternative: Actually, we are still trying for a little one of our own.
Make a Plan
It isn't just what people say that can get to you. At holiday time just about anything can happen. Consider what is best for you and your spouse, and have a plan.
- Stay Home. Even if your parents lay the mother of all guilt trips on you, they can't make you attend a holiday gathering. Your mental well-being trumps turkey or gifts any day of the year, and ultimately it's up to you to decide whether or not you want to go.
- Find a Safe Place. Look for a guest bedroom or bathroom to gather your composure if something like a pregnancy announcement turns out to be a little more than you can bear.
- Have a Signal. You don't have to stay for the whole thing. When you and your spouse are ready to call it a day, flash your super-secret signal.
- Forgive Yourself. It's all right to be sad when other people are happy.