When we went through all the infertility stuff, there were other people in our lives announcing pregnancies and with babies at the time while we were going through it all. So I definitely understand not only the sadness it can bring but the extra family pressure and stress it adds when it’s the holidays. So as far as tips and advice to cope with infertility during the holidays. First and foremost…

1. Set Boundaries and Say NO!
You do not have to feel obligated to go to family events if you feel there will be too much stress, uncomfortable questions, other people announcing their pregnancies, etc.
2. Be Selfish!
Take time for yourself, do things for yourself and/or yourself and your partner. And take alone time when needed.
3. Communicate ahead of time!
Before going to events with family or friends, make it clear what is off limits (i.e. what you do and don’t feel comfortable talking about). I would let people know I didn’t want to talk about how it was going or my infertility treatments etc. during the holiday. It’s almost like the elephant in the room —  everyone thinks they need to bring it up and it’s the main thing on your mind, but it doesn’t need to be discussed at a holiday event if you don’t want to.
4. Be honest & acknowledge your pain.
I would get so annoyed when people would try to tell me how I should feel or what I should be grateful for. You don’t necessarily have to show your pain or be super vulnerable, but you can say, “this has been really hard… we are going through a lot right now… We’ve had some disappointments… being here is really hard with everything we have going on…”, etc.
5. Prepare mentally to open all the holiday cards.
Women without kids or struggling with infertility would understand this. I always wished we would get to do family holiday cards and when we finally did once we had [our son], it was a monumental moment in our lives I will keep that first one forever.
6. Come up with some quick one-liners.
Decide what you want to say back to someone when they ask you something you don’t feel comfortable answering (I always had a few one to two sentence answers prepared).
The Main Advice?
You don’t “owe” anyone anything. You don’t have to answer questions, you don’t have to explain the science behind IVF, you don’t have to pretend you are super happy. It’s okay to not be okay. Everyone goes through tough phases in life, and people who have not gone through infertility have no idea how much pain you are in both physically and mentally so letting go of expectations, or not expecting that people are going to “get it”, is the best thing to do. I have had the most hurtful things said to me by people who probably don’t mean it, they are just not well-informed about infertility and IVF process. So let go of expectations and trying to get people to understand what you are going through.

Follow the author on Instagram: @mrs.kono, @bennyandthemiraclebaby

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