Infertility has no calendar—it’s present every day. There are certain times of the year, however, when your own infertility—and its emotional toll—is more prevalent. Some of those times include Mother’s or Father’s Day, your birthday, the holidays, and the New Year.
Even at the best of times, it can be challenging to deal with infertility, and the holidays present even more challenges. Gatherings in large groups can mean unexpected—and sometimes very personal—questions. Here are some tips to help you when you find yourself in a conversation with someone making insensitive remarks or asking too many questions. Sharing your infertility story is personal to YOU, and you are in control of what you say, who you say it to, and when you say it.
When a Friend or Relative Offers You Advice on Getting Pregnant
Perhaps you have an Aunt Mary or your mother’s friend June who feels the need to share their pregnancy expertise with you. Some phrases you might hear are “You’re trying too hard; just let it happen” and “When you least expect it, you’ll get pregnant.” Um, no.
Even though it may be coming from a place of love and caring, when a friend or relative offers unsolicited advice about your journey to parenthood, it can come off as insensitive. So how do you share what you’re comfortable sharing while still maintaining your cool?
How To Talk To Your Family About Infertility
According to Resolve.org, here are tips on communicating with loved ones about your fertility journey.
- First, chat with your partner (if you have one) about how much detail you want to share about what you’ve been going through.
- Have a go-to line or prepared statement that you practice. Something like, “We are trying to start a family but have not had success so far.”
- Speak in private when you have someone’s attention.
- Share stats about infertility: 1 in 8 individuals/couples experience infertility.
- Be open and honest about your desire to attend family gatherings or large groups; it’s OK if you’re not feeling up to it.
Thinking through the above tips before being with family and friends can hopefully help to make the conversations a little easier.
Fertility and Family Building Support
RESOLVE New England provides education, support, and advocacy for those living in New England and struggling with fertility and family building. Learn more about RNE here. If you live outside New England, Resolve’s national chapter can help you find support right in your area. We also list some sources of support in our Infertility 101 blog post.
The benefit of finding a community or support group is that you’ll be part of a caring group of people who understand what you’re going through and are open and willing to share their stories. There is comfort in finding people who understand how you’re feeling emotionally, mentally, and physically. Participants in these groups just “get it.”
Fertility During the Holidays
You’re spending more time with your family—around friends and their families—and this can cause you to reflect on your own family building. Relatives you haven’t seen in a while may question your plans for having a baby without realizing the challenges you’ve been facing. And while they may mean well, it doesn’t hurt any less to be faced with uncomfortable questions.
Having a few responses at the ready can help to make these interactions a little easier. You can try responses such as:
- Being gracious: “Thank you for asking. When we have news we’re ready to share, you’ll be one of the first to know.”
- Being honest: “That’s a very personal question! We’ll share when we’re ready.”
- Changing the subject: “Tell me about your grandchildren/children/nieces—they must be getting so big!”
Having someone else in the room who is on your side to rescue you or help redirect conversations can also help. This might be a close friend or family member who can call you away or interrupt with a new topic.
The holidays are a wonderful and emotional time of year. Preparing for the New Year—and another year of family planning—may not make you feel very joyous. Knowing there are resources and communities with whom you can connect can hopefully make harder times a little bit easier.
If you are interested in learning more about egg donation or surrogacy as a family-building option, please reach out to our team at: [email protected] or fill out this form to be connected with our Parent Intake team.