Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah are focused on families, sharing, and togetherness. For couples who are struggling to conceive, the holidays can be emotionally brutal, but perhaps this year you should focus on sharing your struggles with those closest to you. Rather than hiding the fact that you are going through fertility treatments, consider telling your family and friends (or at least some of them); not only will you possibly eliminate painful questions like “When are you finally going to have kids?”, but you may also build a support system that will benefit you in the months to come.
The support you receive from family members and friends may not be a cure-all, and many people may not know how to react, but just the knowledge that you no longer have to keep your treatments a secret could make a world of difference. The decision of who to tell should be made on the basis of what is best for you and your partner. If Grandma has a tendency to say hurtful things without thinking about it, perhaps she is best left off the list. On the other hand, your younger cousin could be the perfect person to confide in–when you start to feel upset at a family gathering, she may be able to take your mind off what is upsetting you. Even after the holidays, it couldn’t hurt to have someone you can call when you’re having a bad day.
If you decide to confide in members of your family, a holiday get-together may be a good choice for a time to do it. Depending on your family situation, you should be prepared for a variety of reactions, including awkward silences, advice-giving, or excessive sympathy. While announcing your infertility struggles during dinner may be the easiest way for you to only say it once, but if your sister is also announcing her pregnancy, it may be best to wait until dinner is over. And don’t be afraid to let your family know how you feel; if you don’t want to talk about it for the rest of the night, just say so with confidence and change the topic if it heads in a direction that makes you uncomfortable.
Another ice breaker to bring up the subject is to request your family provide a donation on your behalf for a cause that is near and dear to your heart. Let them know there are non-profit organizations such as RESOLVE, Fertile Dreams, Cade Foundation or B.U.M.P. This would be a great time to discuss what these organizations are for and why they are important to you.
Whether you decide to tell your family and friends about your infertility or not, you should take the time find a local support group made up of couples who have been through or are currently going through the same struggles as you.