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When Infertility and the Holidays Collide


a blog by pamela tsigdinos

This time of year typically gets associated with turkeys, holiday trimmings and deciding how to divide time among the relatives and friends who all feel curiously compelled to see each other in the last five weeks of the year. Toss in some infertility and stand back.

Yes, we’re looking at a recipe for stress, even for the best organized and well-adjusted, infertility-fighting diplomat, cook, or shopper. The usual challenges – playing chicken in the parking lot or fighting microboredom as we wait in endless department stores lines – seem positively quaint when there’s a bigger conflict looming.

I’m no Rogers and Hammerstein (or Irving Berlin for that matter), but I do know a thing or two about words and emotions. One way to lighten the sense of dread this holiday season is to distract yourself with a little creative exercise. You can play along if you’d like. Simply choose your favorite tune and engineer a little word swap. Become your own Julie Andrews changing the lyrics to My Favorite Things or Berlin’s White Christmas or the one that jumped into my head today, a play on the catchy tune, L-O-V-E by Milt Gabler and Bert Kaempfert.

    I is for way you feel Invisible
    N is for Never-ending waiting game
    F is for the way you fight Frustration
    E is for Endless round of doctor appointments
    R is for the way you Rage at circumstance
    T is for the Truly awful things people sometimes say
    I is for the Insidious ways that cycles torture us
    L is for the Longing to succeed
    I is for the “if” in What If …
    T is very, very Trying even in the best of times
    Y is Yours to decide how You want to move ahead

Not a Billboard top 40 in any way whatsoever but a little attempt at levity and one more way to try to capture the complex intangibles that come with this thing we call infertility.

So the next time a pregnant woman or excited dad-to-be corners you to share their joyful developments, you can nod politely and hum along to the tune of your choice.

Take it from an infertility veteran whose worst holidays remain those involving my first and last IVFs. Unfortunately, my unsuccessful cycles coincided first with an all-but-mandatory, child-friendly work holiday party and last with a Big $#%&* Negative just ahead of a family get-together that included a non-stop recital from a pregnant relative who shared with me many breathless anecdotes about her impending delivery.

That was then and this is now.

What got me through it? I just repeated Gloria Gaynor's lyric:
I will survive.

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