Surviving the holidays with infertility
Being infertile is just plain hard during the holidays.

Well, it’s that time of year again—the holiday season, otherwise known as the annual trek to the extended family where you’ll be surrounded by other people’s children and subjected to questions you’d almost rather die than answer.  I can almost guarantee that during the next month someone will ask, “So, when are you guys going to have kids?”  I can also almost guarantee that it will cut you to the core.  Although it may not help at that exact moment, try to remember, you’re not alone and you will survive.

I think it helps to remember, that most people are not trying to hurt us.  In their own ineffective and intrusive way, they are probably trying to help us.  How, you ask?  Well, believe it or not, they might think that you are enjoying the child free life a bit too long and are unaware that you can’t wait forever.  Or maybe they are trying to show you how much they would love and appreciate a child of yours.  In fairness, we’ve often given them little information to work with.

Silence/Shame Cycle of Infertility

Part of the reason we get these insensitive questions is because of the whole secrecy/shame/silence cycle I’ve talked about before. In an effort to protect ourselves and what little shred of privacy we have remaining, we often remain silent about our infertility.  I also suspect that a heavy dose of shame is at work in perpetuating this silence.  The tape playing in too many of our heads is “We are a failure, we are less than a woman/man, we are a failure….”

I do appreciate that there are situations where it really is best to remain silent, but I suspect that these situations are fewer than you think.  It is also possible to share just enough information to give them a clue without baring your soul.

Suggested Replies to “When are you going to have children?”

It helps to have a range of responses depending on the intent of the questioner and the environment.  If you don’t want to get into a protracted discussion, change the subject at the end by asking them a question about food, the weather, or their children or grandchildren.

Well intentioned, but clueless:

  • We’re hoping very soon, but so far it hasn’t worked out that way.  We’ll be sure to let you know when we have good news to share.  Boy, this slimy green bean casserole drowning in nutritionally void cream of supposed mushroom soup topped with canned supposed fried onions is interesting.  How in the world did you make it?
  • As soon as God sees fit to bless us. Speaking of God, can you believe this wonderful weather?

Questionable intent, but still clueless:

  • That’s more personal than I feel comfortable sharing with you. Can you believe the outfit Aunt Agnes is wearing?!?
  • You probably don’t realize it, but that’s an insensitive question to ask.  Let’s talk about something less hurtful. Who are you rooting for in the game this afternoon?

Downright Snarky (No, you can’t actually use these, but you can have some fun thinking them while you say one of the above responses.)  With thanks to the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group.

  • I was thinking about it, but then I realized I’d have to quit drinking for at least six months and decided I wasn’t ready for that level of commitment.~ Melissa
  • After being around your kids, we’ve decided to remain childless. ~ Sarah
  • After spending some time with _______ (spouse’s name) relatives, we’ve decided to not propagate that gene pool. ~ Dawn
  • When my body decides it’s tired of having sex, sushi, drugs, and alcohol constantly.~ Marci
  • When you stop asking. ~ Elizabeth
  • We’re not having much luck and are wondering if we’re doing something wrong. What position do you recommend?  How often do you do “it”?  Oh yes, and are you pro or against orgasms when trying to get preggers? Wait, before you walk away, do you have a favorite lubricant or do you prefer good ole saliva?

Creating a Family has tons of resources both serious and funny to help you survive this next week, including podcasts, videos, and a wonderful Top Ten Tips for Surviving the Holidays With Lots of Kids and Nosy Relatives.  We also have a brand new multimedia guide on surviving the holidays when you’re in infertility treatment or waiting to adopt.

Now it’s your turn to share your best responses to the “When are you going to have kids” question.  Also, please share how your family has helped you cope with this trying time of year.

Image credit: Patrick Gensel
First published 2014. Updated 2016.