The Infertility Grinch Who Stole Christmas

One of the side-effects of infertility is the desire to avoid social situations during the holiday season. Somehow, you never realized the intimate connections between the holidays and children. Easter egg hunts, sitting on Santa's lap, singing the Four Questions—there are so many rituals at holiday-times that are bound up with children. You don't like the way it makes you feel. You know it looks bad, too. Other people translate your demeanor as a native dislike of children when nothing could be further than the truth: you yearn, you ache to hold a baby in your arms; your own baby. But your arms remain empty.

Comparing Notes

There's another problem with holiday gatherings: well-meaning people who want to know what you're waiting for—why are you waiting so long to have a child? Family gatherings are a time to compare notes and view each others' successes and failures. Family members may take your measure and decide you've come up short, never realizing that your childless state is not a voluntary one.

So what is there to do? You can't hide under a rock from October through February. What you can do is think about the upcoming events, way in advance, and make solid plans that will help to minimize your pain and grief. In this way, you may even reawaken some of that lost holiday spirit that fell by the wayside after you were diagnosed with infertility.

If you know that an upcoming family event will be loaded down with many children and pregnant women, it's better to find a way to avoid attending, but you also need to consider the feelings of your parents. If you plan to avoid such a gathering, set aside time to visit or dine with your parents a week before the event. That way, they'll get that you care about them and your non-attendance is not about your relationship with them. This will also free you to spend the holiday in a quiet way, in the comfort of your home.

Don't Panic

If you receive several invitations, don't panic. See the blessing in disguise. Choose to attend the event where it is less likely that there will be a flood of children and expectant moms. Everyone will understand that you can't accept every invitation you receive.

There's no reason to subject yourself to the morning family service on Christmas Day if you've already attended the late evening Christmas Eve service. By taking this course, you'll have fulfilled your obligation early and with great wisdom.

Consider holding your own Christmas gathering. Invite other infertile couples who are childless. "Misery loves company" is not just a saying. You'll find comfort in their understanding and in knowing that you share an important if very unfortunate experience.

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