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Deborah's Guide to Coping With the HolidaysBy Deborah Tennant
The days grow shorter, and colder, the sunshine thinner, as the year turns over. This is a time for turning inward, for curling up by the (literal or figurative) fireplace, for taking stock and planning new strategy. However, for the infertile there are countless ambushes waiting in the holidays; the obligatory work party where pregnant colleagues and spouses are front and centre; family demands to attend Hanukkah and Christmas functions; child-centred media and advertising. You can be forgiven if all you want to do is climb into bed with this year's bestsellers, a good supply of CDs, and a large delivery menu, and wait for sanity to resume in January.
However, I urge you NOT to do that. The more you try to pretend the holiday season isn't happening, the more likely you are to be laid low by the friend (or worse, younger sister) happily announcing their pregnancy at the holiday lunch or family dinner. Develop some pro-active coping skills that will enable you to enjoy the best this season has to offer while still protecting yourself.
-- Prepare yourself for festive occasions. When you are invited to lunch with old school friends, do some research. There is always someone in every group who keeps up to date with everyone. Have a good gossip with her/him and know in advance who's pregnant ... then you control how much you participate, or send your regrets if you're not feeling resilient.
-- Family dinners you can't opt out of are problematic, especially if there is not a lot of sensitivity to your situation or if you are trying to keep it private. However, you can tactfully limit your presence. Skip the kids' gift opening. Take older nieces and nephews skating or tobogganing ... gets you out of the house and less likely to have to face questions about when you're going to have a baby. By the way, the best answer I've heard to that query is, "Nine months after we get pregnant."
-- Do something special with your partner. Go to the nicest non-family restaurant you can afford, or order in some good takeout, light the candles and put the answering machine on.
-- Do your gift shopping through catalogue or mail order. Give magazine subscriptions, an acre of rain forest, or make a donation to charity or your local food bank.
-- Above all, focus on the good things in your life ... your partner, your home, your friends and family, your hobbies. Take a holiday from your infertility, and celebrate with a cup of real coffee or a glass of wine.