Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa all seem to focus on extended family, talk of Santa, the latest children’s toys, and holiday newsletters that share every painstaking family detail, from birth to potty training to Junior's newly minted driver’s license. And while your own current IUI or IVF cycle is certainly at the forefront of your mind, it seems little to compare with a real, live ‘little’.
Some of this family ‘updating’ is normal, but you may be especially sensitive to the topic while you’re dealing with your own fertility issues and trying to get pregnant. Try as best you can to determine whether the conversation is the speaker’s way of trying to connect or reconnect with family and friends or whether you’re face-to-face with an insufferable boor who has no qualms in asking when YOU will be expecting. If you discover the latter, realize that you can’t do much to guard against people like this, whether they’re related to you or not. Even when you do have children of your own, they serve as little protection when others wander into personal territory. In such situations, the art of the smile, the nod, and the hasty exit will serve you well…even if the only exit available is the restroom.
‘But I want my children of my own!, says almost every Fertility patient anywhere when faced with the prospect of a holiday spent with everyone else’s children while trying to get pregnant. Rather than trying to turn a blind eye on children playing with their new toys, or your car keys, get in there and play with them. Doing so is wonderful practice for the future. And in the meantime, you may just discover some of the fun of being with children and sharing their joy, before giving them back to their rightful owner after the excitement wears off!
If you plan on spending extended time with your extended family, consider cluing in a few folks about your situation. They can be helpful in deflecting family or friends who are notorious for ill-timed comments. Arriving late and/or leaving early is another way to minimize your contact with difficult people and situations. You may want to plan something special for you and your partner or a friend after your family affair. This activity will give you something to look forward to throughout the family function.
The Holidays are also a great time to practice living in the moment. Many were certain that, after attending family functions solo for years, the discomfort would end if/and when the domestic partner arrived. How was anybody to know that there was still another hoop to jump through? What we do know is that there will always be another obstacle, if you allow it. Even if you were to arrive with perfect family in tow, some new challenge would always await. Holidays can become a time for comparison rather than a time for joy, if you choose to compete. Instead, consider meeting those ill-timed comments and people with a hug and an expression of good wishes. Your grace may just stop others in their tracks.
For those who truly are interested in you and your life, share some of the positive things from the past year. They may truly appreciate the chance to connect, much more so than a bouncing baby story. Consider this your gift of the holiday season.
Finally, if the Holidays are overwhelming you during your Fertility journey, reach out to Reproductive Medicine Institute so that we may offer you options for coping with the emotional issues involved with trying to get pregnant.