Thanksgiving

Infertile People are NOT the Only Ones Who Dread Holiday Gatherings

I don’t buy those smiles… not for a minute.

I don’t buy those smiles… not for a minute.

Expectations. They’ll get you every time. Approaching holidays fill people with expectations and people dealing with infertility with our own dirty little list of expectations tacked on to those.

Year after year, a lot of people seem to head towards the holidays expecting to be happy, to celebrate, to be around family, to open up fabulous gifts that we’ve always dreamed of, to give fabulous gifts that our friends and family members have always dreamed of, to skip down memory lane, everyone together hand in hand, fa la la la la, la la la la. Okay, let’s all shake ourselves awake for a second here. Here are the REAL expectations that we can REALLY expect. (Do note that most of these are “include alls” meaning- they will apply to holidays with friends, families, and coworkers equally.)  

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First, we expect that we’ll feel obligated to spend too much money to buy presents for people who don’t deserve them and won’t appreciate them. Then, we expect that everyone will get together. We expect that many don't want to be there. Many are simply there because they don't want to be the person who's talked about behind their back… and also, of course, for the copious amounts of free food and alcohol. 

We expect that at least one person will say something to humiliate him or herself and at least one person will say something to humiliate someone else.

As for specifics with family gatherings:

We expect some cousin to tell you how well he's doing in his business even though everyone present, even the kids, know it's bullshit.

We expect some aunt to tell you how well her kid is doing and everyone else to be thinking: "Does she really not know he's a loser?" 

We expect some to over-drink and all to over-eat.

We expect all the food will be “great” while we're sitting within earshot of the person who brought it and most of the food to be declared to be “crap” when we all talk about it on the drive home. 

And we expect at least one person in each vehicle to put in the request:

"Remind me not to do this again next year."

But those with infertility issues also expect scrutiny and being judged and being made to feel uncomfortable:

Personal questions, embarrassing questions, extremely "not-anybody's-business" questions.

And I'm here to remind you that, while all of their baby plumbing may be functioning correctly, your dear relatives have plenty they don't want to talk about either:    

So, remember:

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Don't ask your 40 year old cousin Brian why he's still living with his college roommate. (Better to keep thinking it’s a beautiful romance than to suddenly confirm it’s a really creepy bromance.) 

Don't ask your uncle Steve why he was on the news with his jacket over his face.

Don't ask your designer-obsessed sister-in-law Brenda why she lives in a mansion and drives a BMW to the food stamp office.

Don't ask your brother-in-law Sam how he failed his driving test four times and his GED three times.

Don't ask your mother-in-law why every time she makes her "special-family recipe" stuffing that’s been passed down from generation to generation on her father’s side, there are always a bunch of empty Stovetop boxes in the garbage.

Don't ask your second cousin Bill why he spends his days collecting disability from a fall at work and training for an ironman triathlon.

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And the ultimate goal for the family festivities: After the whole debacle is over, be that person in the car who says:

"Remind me not to do this again next year".......And then write it on your appointment calendar so you don't forget!

Thanks a lot for stopping by! I hope you feel even just a little bit better than you did when you got here a few minutes ago. If you’d like more laughs at this moment in your life, please consider subscribing to my not-overly-frequent newsletter and / or buying my book for yourself or someone else who could use it this holiday season. All can be done at the bottom of my homepage: http://laughingisconceivable.com

Laughing  IS  Conceivable: One Woman’s Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility

Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman’s Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility

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Being Thankful for Knowing How to Handle the Relatives

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To me, it’s not really quite the holiday season yet. But since Halloween wasn’t over for an hour when stores started having their Pre-Pre-Black Friday sales and the Hallmark Channel already started replacing my beloved Murder She Wrote with their heartwarming holiday “classics” (which already put my husband in a thankful mood… He’s thankful for anything that cancels Murder She Wrote. He doesn’t care whether it’s a holiday movie or a power failure.) Anyhoo…

People prepare for holidays in many ways. Some people buy decorations the year before when they’re heavily discounted and put them away in the closet. Some people buy presents at the last minute. A lot of us have to emotionally prepare for the holidays. Especially if you’ve been trying to have a baby for a while.

So this year, whatever holidays you’re celebrating, whatever gatherings you’ll be attending with family, friends, or co-workers… the turkey, ham or whatever may be roasted but you won't be. I simply refuse to let it happen.

You won't be roasted (or grilled or fried) by the relatives on whether or not you're finally pregnant, if you're really trying to get pregnant, if you've taken a vacation recently to unwind because that’s probably all you need to get pregnant, or “have you seen a doctor?” or “tried adopting?” because women always get pregnant once they decide to adopt…

Or have you spoken to cousin Kathy who has six kids because she must be doing something right...

Or if maybe you're husband isn't doing "it" right...

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Or do you want me to move over so you can sit next to pregnant cousin Marianna because maybe you'll catch it "stupidity, stupidity, don't know what else to say to you so I'll say some more unimaginative, stupidity, stupidity, and... more stupidity" 

No, you will not be grilled, roasted, or fried by the end of this holiday season. I will not permit it.

So over the next month or so, as everyone starts to get ready for the holiday season frenzy, this blog will help everyone to get mentally and emotionally prepared.

You will not be alone. Together, as a group, we will tackle the holiday season and your relatives right here at Laughing IS Conceivable.

(Yes, I said "tackle". At this time of year, I feel compelled to use football terms... and truthfully, aren't there at least one or two of your relatives whom you'd love to see a barrage of angry infertile women throw to the ground and hold down on the front lawn until someone blows a whistle?)

From dealing with whether or not we should even attend these heinous holiday shindigs to--if we go: Who to hang out with, which rooms to avoid, who not to sit next to, and how to divert the conversation without blatantly cursing people out, although…

"Do you guys still want children?" 

"Screw off".

Yeah, that could work.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you’re already feeling just a little less anxious about the upcoming holidays. If you’d like more laughs at infertility’s expense, please consider subscribing to my infrequent newsletter or checking out my little book. It’s been read by 1000s like you who have looked to laughter to de-stress from infertility / IVF and is recommended by renowned fertility professionals nationwide. http://laughingisconceivable.com

Laughing  IS  Conceivable: One Woman’s Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility

Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman’s Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility

Infertile Holidays: No Grilling Allowed

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, I truly hope with all my heart that there was no grilling at your Thanksgiving table this year. I mean, of course it's okay if somebody grilled the green beans or the squash. But if you're celebrating/enduring "infertile holidays" this year, I just really hope nobody grilled you. But knowing how relatives are... I wrote this post for you... juuuust in case...because... grilled-cheese

It happens every year. The first cool breeze wafts through the air and with it comes the smell of panic from infertile people everywhere. Everyone-- Infertiles and Fertiles alike-- anticipates the holidays... Everybody thinks: Family, food, traditions. But Infertile folk also think: Interrogations. For those of us in the US who have been through infertile holidays, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season when all those struggling mightily to conceive hold their collective breath.

Halloween is great. This is a bearable infertile holiday. Everyone's so busy getting their hair, make-up, and accessories right and trying to score the best candy and navigate around the houses that give Twizzlers and Laffy Taffy every year. The most annoying thing that will happen to you is, after spending weeks picking out just the right sexy costume and forty minutes getting into the sexy costume, the only comment people will come up with is: "What if you have to go to the bathroom?"

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But Thanksgiving is quite different. That's a bad infertile holiday. It makes many of us tooooo full. Too full of parades, football, dog shows, turkey and... most of all....too full of chatter. And inevitably, among that chatter, somewhere between the opening kick-off and Tupperwaring next week's lunches, people feel compelled to start talking about kids: Kids who are running around the living room like lunatics because they're still high on Halloween fun-size candies. Kids spoon-flicking stuffing across the table who make you consider reconsidering "this whole 'baby' thing." Kids ditching cranberry sauce under the table whether or not there's a pet on the premises because someone decided to be innovative this year and use actual cranberries instead of a can opener. And so while half the people are bragging about their kids to you and the other half are fantasizing about relocating the kids' table to the un-heated garage,  there always has to be one yutz who will look at you and bring all other conversations to an abrupt and screeching halt with one simple phrase: "Speaking of kids... "

Oh Geez... and they're off.

"Aren't you trying?" (wink wink to the husband)

"You shouldn't be waiting so long. I mean, you know it's harder to get pregnant as you get older." (Knowing glare at the wife)

"How long have you guys been married? Oh, we had three kids by the time we were married that long."

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And while you're being grilled like a cheese sandwich, even if nobody else there is "celebrating" an infertile holiday (although, you never know), you'd think you'd at least gain some sympathy, if not actual support, from those at the table who had been grilled in holidays past: Uncle Dave who was personally escorted out of a Major League ballpark and invited to never return, who was incapacitated, incarcerated, or both. Nobody would ever say. Or cousin Sue who's brought three different boyfriends to the last three Thanksgivings. (I once made the error of saying "Warren looks different." To which she replied: "It's a different Warren.") Or cousin Mike who's forty-eight and has never been married and coincidentally neither has his roommate, Don. But no. They've all suddenly become unnaturally fascinated with the food on their plates. It's every cheddar and Gruyere for himself.

And then the fricken infertility poker game starts with everybody trying to raise the ante... A family twist on the true meaning of Cutthroat Kitchen. It's only your life. Why not turn it into a game show?

"I have a friend who had twins at 40."

"I have a neighbor who had triplets at 42."

"I read about this woman in India who had quadruplets at 51."

Luckily most of the time, you don't have to respond or even speak at all. These Thanksgiving think tanks are usually running on empty from the start and quickly head out into the Sea of Stupidity.

"Whatever happened to the Octomom?"

"John Travolta's wife had a baby at 61 or was it 49?"

"Isn't he married to Kelly Clarkson?"

Yeah, there you go. See? That didn't take long at all.

(Thanks for stopping by! I hope you feel even just a little bit better than you did when you got here. If you'd like more laughs at my own infertility journey's expense, please subscribe to my newsletter and consider my eBook. It's been downloaded by 1000s of infertiles, their partners, friends, and medical professionals.  See Reviews by clicking the book cover icon above or @ http://laughingisconceivable.com (click eBook)

 

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The Great Thanksgiving Roast (Thursday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can. Read a day at a time. It's a good way to get a break from the relatives. Every half hour or so,  tell them you have a stomach cramp and slip out of the living room and into their computer chair. You'll send a wave of panic through your family as they realize the implications of someone hogging the toilet on this day of all days.) So, what were we talking about? Oh right. Keeping your spouse close by for the entire Thanksgiving hellfest. There is strength in numbers. And if someone asks you an embarrassing question, you can just shove him in front of you to deflect it.

"Helen, you're not doing any of those fertility treatment thingys are you?..."Dave? Where did Helen just go? I could swear she was just standing right there, where you are now."

I also think, there are still in 2010 some things people won't say in mixed company. This can definitely work in your favor. Women probably won't mention your menstrual while your husband's around.

Just like, when you're in the vicinity, men probably won't bring up their highly scientific theory on the culprit behind your husband's fatherhood issues: That time in 1989 when they all went to the beach during spring break and your husband sat on the scorching hot sand with a way too short speedo.

So, if you're a man and a woman together at this function, you've got it covered as long as you hang together. If you're a same sex couple... hopefully just showing up together still freaks out the most annoying of your relatives enough that they'll never even get around to bothering you about the trying to conceive part. Hold hands a lot and gaze into each other's eyes lovingly if you have to.     

For everybody: When you sit down to dinner, choose your seat wisely. Don't be the first to sit down at the table. You'll be stuck with whomever sits down next to you.

What happens if it's your aunt who whips out a newspaper clipping on endometriosis she's been carrying around in her purse since July 4th when you dodged her at the family barbecue? 

If somehow this does happen, however, don't despair. Simply get up, go do something (get a spoon, read more of my blog...whichever), then return to the table and "absent-mindedly" sit in the wrong seat.

You don't have to sit next to your spouse, but you should definitely be within deflection distance of each other. And both of you need to keep your ears perked up for key danger words. For example:

Aunt with the article in the purse sits next to you, and in between stuffing stuffing into her teeth and unwedging it with the back of a matchbook, she tilts in your direction. You're not sure what she's about to do. She could either be internally rearranging the four glasses of club soda she chugged, or worse: She's about to talk to you. You hold your breath waiting to see out of which end the noise will emerge.

Your husband appears to be immersed in his slab of cranberry sauce, trying to decide what is proper Thanksgiving dinner etiquette: To turn it can imprint side down before tackling it or leave it as served. But his ears are wide open and zoning in on your aunt like he's the Bionic Woman.

And she speaks to you:

"Oh (okay, the word "oh" seems fine.)

"did I mention" (no objection so far)

"that my neighbor's daughter" (Warning: Lights begin to flash. I know my aunt. She wouldn't be telling me about this girl I never met unless she's  either having a baby or is a prostitute.)

"is" (Husband reaches for nearest bowl.)

"pregnant?"

"Peas?! Aunt Yenta, do you want peas? Does anyone at this table want peas? How about down there? How about you? How about you? How about you?"

Deflection. That's the name of the game. It's not really a family dinner. It's fricken air hockey.    

Listen, I gotta go before the  tryptophan kicks in and I fall asleep on my keyboard. 

I'll talk with ya again tomorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

The Great Thanksgiving Roast (Wednesday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can. It will get you out of doing some Thanksgiving dinner preparations. "I said: I'll be there in a minute! I'm reading a very important blog!!") So, what were we talking about? Oh right. Deciding whether to attend or not attend the big Thanksgiving Day family fiesta. (Speaking of fiesta--Which one of your relatives would you most like to see as the pinata?... You know, so you can take a stick and beat the stuffing out of them...literally.)

My husband and I always head out to these soirees with such wonderful, positive attitudes. As we open the garage door, start the car, and put it into reverse, one of us usually sighes loudly while the other says: "Okay. Let's get this over with."Once you've decided that you will indeed attend, it is important to have a strategy. Remember, when you go to someone's house, all rooms are not created equal. In other words:  

Stay out of the kitchen. You may be lured in by the smells and the homey feeling. It's a trap. Stay away.

In the spice rack, behind the pepper mill, is the rumor mill. And the yentas who gather in the kitchen are aching to grind you and your infertility issues into it.

Now you have to decide. Do you want to stay in the kitchen, climb up on the counter, and field their indiscreet questions like you're at a press conference or would you rather avoid the kitchen and let them talk behind your back?

I've said this many times before so I apologize for repeating myself, but: You know when people always say: "If you have something to say, say it to my face!"? I don't see why. If you've got something to say about me, feel free to go over there and talk amongst yourselves. Why waste our time with their BS? 

I'm telling you: The kitchen is an evil setting:  First of all, I recommend you avoid places with unwelcome puns attached: 

"So what's cooking with you?"

"I have buns in the oven...do you?"

"Don't you ever want to have a baby? Do I have to light a fire under you?

"Go to the refrigerator and get me a couple of eggs. By the way, how are yours doing?"

And the main reason I would avoid the kitchen: Moms, grandmothers, sisters, aunts...too many women.

Sorry for the stereotype, but women love to gab... Sure guys do too... But not during football. The key is: You and your husband have to stay together.

Guys may rib other guys about things infertility-related, but they'd  have to be total morons to do it in front of you. What fool is going to say to him: "Still can't knock her up? What did you forget where it goes? You used to know when you were single. What happened, buddy, you need GPS?"..while you're standing right there?

If you have the misfortune of attending a shindig that's an all day affair, by all means, don't watch the parade! Too much parade-talk revolves around the small people. Too many kids in the parade. Too much of Matt Lauer saying: "For Children of All Ages". Too many ten year olds from Indiana being interviewed: 

"What do you like most about the parade?"

"I like the clowns"

(Absurd child. The balloons are the best part.  The clowns are always the worst part. The clowns and the marching bands. Tell me they couldn't keep showing the same band over and over again. Nobody but their grandparents would know the difference: "And now from Sweet Potato High School in Minneapolis. And now from Magnolia Normal in Peoria". They could just keep schlepping the same worn out kids around the block. )

And stay away from the dog show. Doggies are cute. Somebody (maybe a relative, maybe Mr. Peterson from Seinfeld who does the dog show play-by-play) will inevitably segue into "These people take care of their dogs like they're their children" and then we're back to that discussion again.         

But football is a good bet. And the fact of the matter is--(trust me: I'm a huge football fan)--During a game, nobody cares if you aren't getting pregnant. Frankly, during the Thanksgiving Day football games, I didn't even care that I couldn't get pregnant.

Listen, I gotta go. I have to reprogram my phone's speed dial. I'll make the Butterball emergency hotline #3. The fire department and Poison Control should probably be 1 and 2.

I'll talk with ya again tomorrow.

A Thanksgiving Day Strategy

If you’re in the U.S. and celebrate Thanksgiving… or any holidays anywhere…and are dealing with infertility, you have to have a strategy. Why not? The Macy’s Parade organizers have a strategy. The football teams have a strategy. The dog show has a strategy (I think theirs is: Cram 1200 dog breeds into an hour show.)

Infertile Person’s #1 strategy for Thanksgiving and other holidays should be avoidance:

Running away from your problems is never a good idea unless you’re dealing with infertility and your relatives are the problem. Then run Forrest run. I don’t care that Thanksgiving is in two days. As far as I’m concerned it’s not a done deal.

I remember years ago my aunt and uncle were throwing a big family shindig that everyone was going to. My mother said: “I’m not going.” My father asked: “Why not?” And my mother simply responded: “Because they’re ridiculous people.” If you avoid the ridiculous celebration, you avoid the ridiculous relatives and the ridiculous things that come out of their mouths. (I'm starting a new reality show called: "Relatives Say the Most Ridiculous Things!!")

To attend or not to attend...that is the question...

Hopefully you didn’t obligate yourself to actually hosting a big Thanksgiving or holiday feast this year.  I mean, it’s much harder to avoid it when it’s at your house… and you’re cooking it. The only advice I can give you in that case is, wear ear buds with loud music the whole time. Relatives drift into the kitchen, you see their mouths moving, just smile. Smile and stir. Smile and baste. Smile and bake at 425.

But if you’re getting in your car and going over to someone’s house:

1) Avoid the kitchen. It’s a trap; A recipe for disaster: A crowd of nosy gossipers, a bunch of hot and sharp things and one exit.

2) Avoid sitting next to anyone annoying. I understand. This may leave you no choice but to take a plate of food and eat it on the toilet. Well, it’s your choice: Do you want to be comfortable or be left alone? But you’re smart. You know your family. You can identify the biggest problems: Your father’s cousin who has been carrying around an article in her pocketbook for the past six months waiting for this moment when she could whip it out and show you— about a woman in Connecticut who after 10 years of trying went on vacation and came back pregnant with twins. Or your nephew’s wife with 7 kids who claims that he just has to look at her and she gets pregnant. (Maybe that’s why she has so many kids. She hasn’t quite made the connection yet of how it really happens.) Or the one who tells you to sit next to the one with the 7 kids so maybe “you’ll catch it”. Or the guy who winks at your husband and says: “Maybe you’re not doing it right.”

But back to my original idea of avoidance: To attend or to not attend— That really is the question. You have no obligation to be anywhere for any of these people.  No matter if your mother says you do or your sister tries to guilt you into going and you’re all packed up and everybody is counting on you to be there and you're supposed to bring the rolls to the wingding and at the last minute you think you can't deal with going and your aunt calls and asks: "Where are my rolls?" Tell her to lift up her shirt and back up slowly toward the full length mirror. Then consider this: Will you feel better or worse about yourself if you go? Will you be glad you dealt with it head on or will you be mad for subjecting yourself to it?

I advise this: If you don't want to be with the ridiculous branches of the family tree, fine. Just have a better plan. Something you'd rather be doing. Don't send yourself your own pity invite and cry yourself a river to float your gravy boat on.  And be thankful that you made your own decision… whatever it turns out to be.