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3 Ways infertility can be especially hard during the holidays

Nicole Witt is the owner of The Adoption Consultancy (www.TheAdoptionConsultancy.com), an unbiased resource serving pre-adoptive families by providing them with the education, information and guidance they need to safely adopt a newborn,...

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful, but this holiday is a difficult one for people who are battling infertility. It can be hard to find something to be thankful for, and more hardship comes when couples have to face families who have their own kids or don't understand what they are going through.

The time from Thanksgiving to New Year's is known as the season to be jolly. But when you are battling infertility, your jolliness is sapped even during the most joyous of seasons. You only see another holiday season without having children, putting a damper on the festivities. As Thanksgiving approaches, you begin to dread the season as you gear up to face your families.

Your extended families are definitely something to be grateful for during this holiday season, don't get me wrong. And most families only have the best intentions with your journey in mind. But, unless they have gone through infertility, they simply don't understand how difficult this time is. There are a few things that might happen during Thanksgiving with your family that can hurt, but here are ways to deal with them and get through the holiday in one piece.

Scenario #1: Being around all the kids

You know it is inevitable and that there is nothing you can do to prevent it, except not show up and miss out on spending time with your family. Many of your other family members have kids ranging all ages. They run around yearning for attention, giving you a painful reminder of what you are trying to achieve.

There are two ways I see to deal with this. First, just take a break. Excuse yourself for fresh air, go to a different kid-free room, or sit in the bathroom for a little while. Sometimes the easiest thing to do is to separate yourself from the kid activity so you have a chance to reset.

The second, albeit more difficult, thing you can do is to try to find joy in the kids' activity and excitement. Spend time playing with them or holding your sister-in-law's new baby. Cherish this kid time and get excited about what you will experience one day.

Scenario #2: Listening to and answering your family's questions and advice about infertility

They are well-meaning, but sometimes extended family can ask questions that hurt. You will receive joking questions about when you will have kids or not carefully thought out inquiries on how things are going trying to conceive. With these inquiries, you will receive a lot of unwanted advice.

  • "You know, if you stop actively trying, you will get pregnant when you don't expect it! It happened to my coworker."
  • "Have you tried figuring out your cycle and ovulation?"
  • "I heard of someone who only ate oranges and got pregnant after infertility."

There will be these and more, with people's well-meaning comments, questions and advice missing the mark every time. No one really knows what you are going through except you. All you can do is smile with gritted teeth, calling on your patience, as you gracefully try to answer these questions in a way that helps them understand. It is also helpful to give short answers and then abruptly change the subject.

Scenario #3: Handling rude comments

This is the worst part of the holidays. There will be some quirky relative that makes rude comments without truly realizing how hurtful they are. These comments are usually about other family members who got pregnant without issue and how there must be something very wrong with you.

Often, the best way to handle these comments is to ignore them entirely. Turn to someone else and start a conversation or pretend like you didn’t hear. It is not worth a biting comeback that puts a damper on the holiday. If you need to, try the escape technique mentioned in Scenario #1.

These holiday situations can be tough. The most important thing to remember is to take everything in stride. Your family only wishes the best for you and wants to support you through this journey, even if they don't fully understand it.

Photo credit: Pamela Moore/iStock/360/Getty Images
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