4 Tips for Navigating Holidays and Infertility

The holiday season! A time for celebration and joy....and lots of pressure. For some, the holidays can be a tough time. If you're in the midst of pursuing IVF treatments using donor eggs or donor embryos, the holiday season may just add to the whirlwind of emotions you've already been experiencing. In this post, we share a couple tips on navigating the holidays and infertility.

1. Be emotionally prepared

When you’re faced with seemingly insensitive questions or comments, being emotionally prepared beforehand can make a difference in how you react. If you’re completely caught off guard, you may find yourself reacting defensively which can lead to an unwanted outcome of the conversation. 

If you have a partner, try communicating in private before the event to make sure you’re both on the same page with how much you should share and with whom. Deciding beforehand is a good way to make sure you don’t feel pressured in the moment to share anything you don’t want to share. Remember that you do not owe anyone an explanation, and sometimes it’s best to politely change the subject.

2. How to respond to the inevitable topic of, “when are you going to have a baby?” or even, “when are you planning on having another child?”

We've probably all been asked this question atleast once, and many times, the asker doesn't realize that this may actually be a painful and private question to ask. Whether you’ve chosen to keep your IVF journey private, or even if you’ve opted to be open with your journey, it can still turn quite uncomfortable when others question you about pregnancy and children in a social setting.

There’s not one simple response to this question that works for everyone. Most importantly, it depends on where you’re at in your journey and what you feel comfortable discussing. If you prefer not to talk about it, you have every right to respond with a simple, “I prefer not to discuss it.” However, if you’re feeling up to it, you could take a different approach. There are ways to respond without being rude or blunt while also letting the person know that these types of questions may be insensitive or personal. 

Infertility emotionsIf you are in a place emotionally where you feel comfortable enough to do so, you could take the route of educating the person asking. For instance, you could opt to offer up some statistics, saying something like, “Did you know that 1 in 6 people struggle with infertility? I’m not going to say whether or not I do, but that’s just something to keep in mind the next time you ask someone if they want to have children or even if they want to have more children.”  Being genuine and honest about your challenges can bring awareness to the topic and help remove the stigma. Responding in this way can politely help the person realize that these types of questions and comments are not all in fun.

3. When possible, forgive others for their ignorance

We have read through many online forums regarding this topic to gather a consensus of how people in our community feel about these types of questions. Understandably, a lot of people get angry. They don’t understand how others can be so nosy, rude, and insensitive. They wonder how people can think it’s okay to ask such personal and hurtful questions. 

Honestly, there can be a number of reasons why someone asks these types of questions. Generally speaking, most people likely have good intentions when asking these questions and may just be ignorant to the pain it can cause.

Most of the time, if asked by an acquaintance, it’s an attempt at small-talk. If close friends or family members ask, it could be a reasonable curiosity. When it comes to family, it’s common for the intention to be self-centered. Your parents may be wanting a grandchild, your sister-in-law may want her kids to have cousins around to play with. Of course, that doesn’t mean that it’s your responsibility to provide these things or even explain your situation, but understanding the askers perspective may be beneficial.

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle that you know nothing about."

People don’t realize that it can be an inappropriate and sometimes painful question to ask. Whenever possible, giving others the benefit of the doubt may ultimately bring you more peace, which leads to our next point.

4. Take care of yourself

Overall, it’s important to understand that everyone handles their struggles differently and you need to do what’s best for you - physically and emotionally. Prioritize taking care of yourself, understanding your emotions, and doing the things you love. 

We know the journey can be long and hard. But, as we know from our years of experience, it is a journey that is ultimately filled with hope. If you are in the midst of a struggle with infertility, or pursuing a same-sex or single parent family, please take a moment to step back and imagine the bright days ahead. Remind yourself that this is just one of the many seasons of your life. Widening your perspective to the long-term picture will give more meaning to the emotions you are feeling now. Give yourself grace, be kind to yourself, and don’t lose hope. 


Happy Holidays from all of us at Donor Nexus!

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