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Hope During the Holidays and Your Fertility Journey

A Time to Believe

The holiday season can be a difficult time for people who are trying to conceive.  Seeing other happy family members and friends with children can make your heart hurt, when you’re wondering if you will ever have a child of your own.  But the holidays are a season of miracles and hope, and there are reasons to be hopeful now.

How to Handle Difficult Conversations Around the Dinner Table

Getting together with family and friends is one of the joys of the holiday season, however if you are struggling with infertility these occasions can also be a source of pain.  People ask, “When are you going to have a baby?” or “When are you going to make me a grandparent?”.  They may not know you are having difficulty conceiving, and they may be unaware of how personal and painful a question like this can be. Don’t let unthinking or insensitive comments ruin your happiness during the holidays. It is a time for hope and joy.  You don’t have to clue them in if you don’t want to.  Decide in advance what you want to say if someone asks or comments about starting a family.  It’s perfectly fine to say, “I’d rather not discuss that right now” or “That’s a complicated question, so let’s talk about that at another time.” You may have to repeat yourself.  Feel free to excuse yourself and walk away—they will take the hint.

From Darkness to the Light

Many faiths center part of their beliefs or traditions around the winter solstice, when the days are shortest and nights are dark.  Often these traditions center around the triumph of light over darkness as the days slowly begin to lengthen.  Hanukkah, Christmas and Diwali all have light as part of their message.  The message of the holidays is that miracles can happen, and hope is available to all.

Extension of Insurance Coverage

As of June 2022, 20 states have mandated at least some insurance coverage for fertility treatment, with 14 of those requiring coverage for IVF, according to RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association.   In New York, large group insurance providers are required to cover up to three rounds of IVF for those couples unable to conceive after 12 or 6 months of regular unprotected intercourse or donor insemination, depending on the age of the female. This includes single women and same-sex female couples. It does not cover small group employers or self-insured groups.  But the law is expected to cover an estimated 2.4 million New Yorkers who did not have coverage before its passage in 2020.

Improved Treatment and Outcomes

IVF success rates have stayed about the same in the U.S. for the last decade, but there has been a reduction in the number of twins and high-multiple births.  This is good news for anyone considering IVF treatment because of the reduced risk to both mother and child of premature birth and lower-weight babies.  The consensus among experts is that elective single embryo transfer (eSET) is the new standard of care.  Recent studies have established that among women who have a good chance of success with IVF, success rates are similar with eSET to those with two or more embryos transferred, and the number of multiple births greatly reduced.

Managing Hope and Uncertainty During the Holidays

If you’re dealing with infertility during the holiday season, be kind to yourself.  Try to limit your exposure to events and people that make you feel sad.  Decide how much of your fertility journey you are willing to share, and with whom, in advance of holiday gatherings.  Being prepared can make holiday events less stressful.  And try to find joy in the small moments and pleasures of the holiday season.  Take a breath, be in the moment, and you may be surprised by a feeling of hope. WIN’s Reproductive Behavioral Health-trained Care Managers can help you or your partner in navigating stressful situations like these when you need it most. Through 24/7 personalized guidance, you’ll receive coping strategies and emotional support to improve your mental wellbeing throughout your journey to building a family.

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