Infertility: Holiday Havoc……Another Perspective

The year-end holiday season can be particularly trying for people struggling with infertility. While dealing with infertility is stressful enough, the holidays can make it more so. Come mid-November we are supposed to feel jovial and gregarious, charitable and magnanimous. The holidays are times for large family gatherings and reunions with friends. But so many patients coping with infertility would prefer to shun togetherness and be hermits from mid-November through New Year’s Day. The prospect of being questioned by well-meaning but completely out-of-line relations regarding ones reproductive status is anticipated with great anxiety.

The Web is replete with strategies on how to navigate and survive the Infertility Inquisition: seek solace and strength from your partner or spouse and together devise a script that you can “volley back” when served the dreaded probing questions. Alternatively do not answer the questions at all. Decline social invitations. Avoid venues that are certain to attract crowds and children. You are encouraged to celebrate with a childless couple – sounds like your “giving back” contribution for the year. (Is it tax-deductable?) Above all – pamper yourself: encircle your tub with lit votive candles, perfuse your bath with dark chocolate essence, and hop in!

Alternative coping strategy: don’t be a hermit.

Isolating yourself from mainstream celebrations may make you feel even more different from others, serve to intensify your unhappiness, and call attention to your conflict. So be a participant but choose your mindset. Who says you have to “live in the moment”? Live in another moment. Mentally return to another time,another place,another holiday season when you were happy. Deflect inappropriate probing questions with terse,curt replies and move on to converse with others. Who knows – you might end up having an unexpected,pleasant (and maybe even life-altering) conversation with someone. Only you know your mission – what consumes you. It is for you alone. Don’t renege on your resolve. You will realize your dream.

So smile while you’re makin’ it-
Laugh while you’re takin’ it-
Even though you’re fakin it-
Nobody’s gonna know.
Nobody’s gonna know.

(Alan Price – Poor People – O Lucky Man soundtrack – 1973)


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Jane Miller, M.D.

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