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Surviving the Holidays

Here's how to handle inquiries from your friends and family.

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If fertility problems are making the upcoming holidays more of an, “Oh, no!” than, “Ho, ho, ho,” you are not alone. The ads may show perfect parties with friends and happy family reunions, but if you are struggling to become pregnant, the season can feel like a countdown to stress.

First of all, real families and friends have parties and reunions that aren’t picture perfect. They may be filled with feuds, divorces and remarriages, financial problems, conversations that turn into arguments, sibling rivalry, children acting like babies, and grown-ups acting like children. Then add the constant questioning about when you’re going to have a baby or when you’re getting married. If you’re dealing with infertility, this may be the last question you want to hear.

While this season is meant to bring people together and joy, you may need some reminders to help you survive your own friends and family in the coming weeks.

First, check in with yourself and write a list of the things that might trigger you – this could be a good exercise for you to understand your feelings, what you’re willing to attend, and do this holiday season. That way you can give your loved ones boundaries.

Remove the pressure – It may be hard to completely remove the holiday stress and pressure, but you can exercise control by giving yourself permission to say “no”, especially as invites from your co-workers, friends, and family fill your inbox. If you think an event or activity will make you uncomfortable, it’s ok to say you can’t make it and don’t feel pressured to give an explanation.

Start a new tradition – Any time is a great time to start a new tradition and this is especially true during the holidays. If you still want to do something and still be in the holiday spirit, then do something different this year. Get tickets for a concert or play, book a restaurant that’s hard to get into, or get out of town by planning a short visit to a person or place that makes you happy.

Voice your concerns – Remember that checklist of triggers in the beginning? Communicate this to who you need to, whether it be your friends or family. If you’re attending a holiday party, it’ll be extremely helpful to give your family an idea of topics that you’d like to avoid. Or find someone who can be there to help deflect those questions (like a lifesaver). You may be surprised by how much people are willing to help if you ask for it.

Don’t take it personally – This may be hard to do but if people are talking about topics that might trigger you (like stories about their babies), remind yourself that they are not trying to upset you on purpose. Even if you’ve shared a list of topics you’d like to avoid, there will be occasions where the conversation may make you upset. Know they didn’t do it on purpose and give yourself permission to leave the conversation or change the topic.

Remember everyone will cope with the holidays differently and use this time to figure out what you need. You will survive this holiday season and every season after that.