Trying to conceive is probably one of the most challenging things you’ll ever do. It can be emotionally and physically exhausting, depending on how long you’ve been trying to get pregnant. Add the chaos of the holidays in and, well, your journey to motherhood can feel like an even more uphill battle. Going into the season of festivities prepared for what you may encounter can help you make a game plan that allows you to preserve your peace (and sanity). Here are 5 truths about celebrating the holidays when you’re trying to conceive.

  1. You will be asked nosy questions

Though well-intentioned, many people don’t understand how painful it can be to field questions about your fertility experience. When friends and family are gathered to celebrate the holidays, it can feel almost impossible to dodge prying questions. Whether people know that you’re trying and want all the details about how it’s going or folks are just popping the curious (and also inappropriate) question “When are you going to have kids?”, the truth is that you are not required to answer any of these questions.

How to deal: Decide before attending any holiday events what you are comfortable talking about. If it helps, create an elevator speech like you would for when people ask you what you do for work. Something like, “I’m working on that!” or “Not sure. So, what have you been up to?” can help deflect questions without you having to divulge your life story. On the other hand, if you want to share the details, feel free.

 

  1. Cute babies will be everywhere

Santa hats and socks adorned with jingle bells will be on nearly every child you encounter from November to the end of the year. For some women, this can be a painful experience. For others, it may be comforting. The reality is that your feelings around spending time with children that aren’t your own are valid.

How to deal: Notice how you feel when you’re around other people’s children. If it feels painful, stick to spending time with adults who respect your feelings. If it feels good to get some baby action, indulge in that. You may find that a little of both feels good. Honor your feelings about this.

 

  1. Everyone else will be drinking

Nothing brings out drunk people like a holiday party. There’s also nothing quite as annoying as being sober amidst a whole room of tipsy adults. While having a drink (or three) may seem like the best way to take the edge off, excessive alcohol consumption is linked to fertility problems. If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for awhile, you could already be pregnant and not know it yet.

How to deal: Stick to non-alcoholic beverages, like one of these holiday mocktails. If someone asks why you’re not drinking (or insists that you should have just one), let them know you’re the designated driver or just say no thanks. It’s frankly none of their business, anyway.

  1. You don’t have to attend every event you’re invited to

Work parties, family gatherings, neighborhood caroling. This is the time of year when calendars fill up with every kind of party imaginable. While it’s probably a good idea to get out there and enjoy some holiday festivities, you’re not required to say yes to every invite. Trying to conceive is stressful enough without the weight of a full schedule on your shoulders—more stress can make getting pregnant even harder.

How to deal: If you think a certain party (or being around the people going to that party) will cause you an undue amount of stress, politely decline. If asked for a reason, don’t feel obligated to divulge your reasons, unless you want to. Saying that you already have plans is a perfectly acceptable way of excusing yourself from an event.

  1. It’s ok to take a holiday break from TTC

The holidays are meant to be a time of love, joy, and connectedness. When you’re trying to conceive, all of that can feel like an impossible goal. Taking a break over the holidays to foster your connection to your partner and pamper yourself can reinvigorate you and leave you feeling ready to continue your path to motherhood in the new year.

How to deal: Decide on your own or with your partner if taking a break for the holidays feels good. You may want to continue monitoring your fertility without feeling the need to have sex at every optimal moment. Make an intention to have sex when you want to, instead of when you feel like you should.

The holidays can be a painful time of year when you’re trying to conceive. Or they can be just as full of magic as they always have been. The point of all these truths is that you get to define the experience you have.
Whether that means spending time curled up at home with your partner or hitting up every event you can, divulging all the details of your experience to those who want to know, or steering clear of babies, for the time being, you’re allowed to make that call.
This is your fertility journey, after all.