Not everyone looks forward to the holiday season as a time to catch up with family and friends. Navigating holiday parties and festivities as an infertility patient can come with a sense of unease. Even those who are well-meaning can ask an intrusive or sensitive question about your fertility.
Sometimes, you feel responsible for educating others on the infertility community and treatment. Other times, you feel defensive over the choices you’ve made to build your family.
This can be a difficult balance to achieve, but as fertility treatment, third-party reproduction and LGBTQ family-building become more prominent across the country, the idea of discussing your plans may not be a moment of dread. Of course, how much you choose to discuss and what you reveal is always entirely up to you and your partner. It’s perfectly OK to refrain from discussing details of your IVF medications or what qualities you’re looking for in an egg donor.
Have a conversational “game plan” ready to go
Decide how much or how little of your infertility journey you are willing to discuss ahead of time. It can keep you from worrying that you’ve revealed more than you are comfortable with, and it provides a clear route for conversations about family building when they come up. If a simple “we’ll see” or “maybe in the future” reply is all you want to say, that’s completely fine. Most people only want to check in and offer their support, even if unwelcome advice or insensitive questions creep up, but it is within your right to choose what you want to disclose.
Understand that you are a member of a community
While you may not have expected your journey to parenthood to include a fertility specialist, as an infertility patient, you are a member of a greater community. This means that you are educated on topics that relate to your course of treatment and any conditions associated with your diagnosis – others likely aren’t. Your family members and friends are less likely to be familiar with concepts like gestational surrogacy, why multiple rounds of IVF are sometimes needed and male factor infertility. So, of course questions about sensitive topics should be better thought through, but it is also likely that these insensitive inquiries come from a genuine lack of education.
Overall, the holiday season doesn’t have to be a source of anxiety. You are well within the realm of polite conversation to pass on answering questions about your private life, especially infertility.