Holiday Coping Tips and Comebacks When You're Dealing With Infertility
Dealing with infertility or undergoing fertility treatments during the holidays? Here are some tips for how to handle those intrusive questions that always seem to come up at family gatherings.
When are the two of you finally going to have a baby?
I’ve come to accept that most people who ask this question just don’t realize how close this sounds to fingernails on a chalkboard for those of us who have spent month after month, year after year trying to have a baby without any success. But that’s just it. The person asking—whether it’s your octogenarian great aunt or your second cousin you only see every third Thanksgiving—probably has no idea how long you’ve been trying to get pregnant. And really, they don’t have to. If you get asked this question, a simple and pleasant, “We’ll let you know when there’s some news,” followed by a swift pivot to a new topic, “Wow, this green bean casserole you made tastes delicious! What’s your secret?” is usually enough to end any further inquiry.
Why don't you just adopt?
This question bugs me on so many different levels, mainly because it seems to assume that the adoption process is some kind of fail-safe “Plan B” for women who run out of fertility options. It really isn’t. Yes, many infertile couples do end up adopting, but it typically takes a long time to pull off, with no guarantees. Many infertile couples also decide not to pursue adoption for any number of reasons. What my sarcastic sub-fertile self wants to say when this question comes up: “Sure, I’ll just run down to the baby shop and be right back!” What I’ve really said when asked about adoption: “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Could you please pass the potatoes?”
Rosie Pope, star of Bravo’s Pregnant in Heels, spoke with BabyZone not too long ago about her experience with secondary infertility. I love her candidness in describing how she would respond to this kind of news. “You’re happy for them, but still sad for yourself. Women tend to feel very guilty about that sort of sadness. I think it’s okay to be happy for your friends and sad for yourself. Congratulate them and then you can go to your office or the bathroom and cry—and that’s OK.”
Just relax and take a vacation!
Yes, we all have a co-worker, friend or relative who was struggling with her partner to conceive, but then booked a trip for two to the Bahamas, and bam! Within seconds of checking in at their hotel, there was a baby on the way. For some women, stress can play a role in fertility, but for others, not so much. Unless this is someone you wish to share your health information with, consider a cheeky response when asked this question. Something along the lines of, “Are you buying the tickets?” may be enough to shut down further discussion in a lighthearted way.
My friend spent her life savings on IVF, but it didn't work.
Ah, the ray of sunshine holiday dinner guest! Feel free to let him or her know that, thanks to new advancements and new understanding, IVF and other fertility treatments are more effective than ever. It’s also true that more insurance health plans are covering IVF and an increasing number of creative financing options for IVF are available for those paying out of pocket. If this seems like too much to share, you can always pare down your response down to a simple, “I’m sorry to hear that.”
Trust me, you don't want to be pregnant.
I consider this comment and its other variant of, “I wish I could be you! You don’t know how difficult it is raising kids,” the reason why I am so skilled at counting to 10 before I speak. If people utter things like this to you, take a deep breath and then take a few seconds to figure out where this person is coming from. Is it benign cluelessness? Arrogance? Some mix of the two? It may be best for your sanity to simply shrug it off (as in smile and shrug your shoulders) and then move on to the next topic.
Maybe the universe is sending you a message
In all seriousness, if these are the kinds of comments you have to put up with, maybe the message the universe is really trying to send you is that it’s okay to skip some of these holiday gatherings this year (which by the way it is; according to RESOLVE, couples dealing with infertility often feel less stressed and better able to cope when they reduce family holiday obligations). What’s the comeback when this comment just can’t be avoided? Here’s what I said the last time the “universe card” was pulled on me: “Oh yes, the universe has spoken, and she’s told me everything is going to be just fine.”
I then made a beeline for that pitcher of “adults only” eggnog and poured myself an extra big cup.
One of the biggest hurdles faced by couples dealing with infertility? The cost of fertility treatments. From IVF to IUI to prescription fertility meds, what can you expect to pay? Seven women share the cost of their treatments—and whether they were successful. You may be surprised at some of these prices!view gallery
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