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Surviving the Holidays on Infertility Island

a blog by Maya Moskin, December 17, 2014

The holidays can be a rough time for anyone stuck living with infertility. I know because I was sequestered to IF Island for four years, and for two of those years, the holidays came just after the heartbreak of unsuccessful IVF cycles.

In 2012, my husband Noah and I were going through our first IVF cycle with my eggs over Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving day we found out my body wasn’t responding to the medication well and only two follicles were growing. We ended up going through the entire procedure only to have zero embryos to transfer. Needless to say, the holidays weren’t very happy.

In 2013, we were just coming off an IVF cycle with my sister as an egg donor. Though we made it to transfer day, and had one frozen embryo transfer after the first fresh transfer resulted in our first BFN, when the holidays rolled around again, we were back to square one and not feeling very festive.

This year is a little different. I’m currently 25 weeks pregnant with a donated embryo. While Noah and I both feel extremely grateful to be where we are, we can’t help but remember how hard the past few holiday seasons were. All the family, the questions about how we were doing, the holiday cards with smiling happy children— it’s just hard. Below are three important things to remember while braving the holidays on IF Island:

  1. You can always say NO. I think many of us feel obligated to attend holiday parties and buy gifts for kids in our immediate social circle, but remember you don’t have to do any of it. If it’s too painful or upsetting to attend a social gathering or do holiday shopping in baby stores, don’t. Have a friend help you buy some gifts online and then politely decline an invite. Noah and I often tried to go away for a night or so, just to be away. The only person you owe anything to is yourself. Take care of yourself and your feelings and know all the feelings that may be coming up for you right now are completely normal.
  2. Set boundaries and have an exit strategy. If you do find yourself at a family gathering or holiday party where you know you might be cornered by someone giving unwanted advice about your family building or friends complaining about their kids, then be upfront about what you want to talk about. Have your partner or a friend know your signals and make sure they know how to come to your rescue if you need an out.
  3. Always remember that if the holidays are especially hard for you this year, it won’t be like this forever. It just won’t. Nothing stays the same and hopefully the new year will bring good luck and new opportunities.

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