We teamed up with our friends at Spring Fertility to learn how to best navigate conversations around fertility. Spring Fertility offers a new standard in individualized care – whether your journey involves fertility treatment, egg freezing, or simply starting to ask questions. Spring Fertility promises customized fertility plans that match your lifestyle (yes, they have weekend and later hours to fit within your schedule). Spring Fertility is the first fertility center in the United States to have developed “an actual technology that replicates the atmospheric composition of a woman’s fallopian tubes in a lab through each stage of IVF – from egg collection to fertilization, culture, and even embryo testing.”
You’ve made it to 2023. Congratulations. You’re tired. You deserve a break – yes, already. A restful, spa-like reprieve from the constant hamster wheel that is your brain for most of the year and even through your “vacation.”
Whether you’re returning from your childhood home (I’m envisioning a scene from The Family Stone as I write that) or going back to the office, you’re probably around a lot of chatter regarding “milestones,” next moments,” and goals for 2023. And if you’re in that age bracket, you know the questions are gonna come:
So, where’s the baby? Have you started trying? How long have you been trying? You should talk to Mary! She saw this one doctor in the city and…
Cue: a deep breath.
It’s not uncommon for these conversations to come up as you gather together during a time of the year that asks you to reflect on what’s been and what’s to come.
“January has historically been our busiest month for new patient inquiries,” Dr. Nicole Yoder from Spring Fertility tells us. “Last year, we saw a 46% increase in consult requests from December to January. We know that [this time] tends to encourage conversations about family planning in the year ahead. This, combined with people changing health insurance plans, increases demand every new year.”
So, if you’re interested in sharing your fertility journey (whatever it may be) with your family and friends – or if you’re looking for a polite way to tell them to STFU, we’ve got you covered.
“It is important to align with your partner or support persons around how much you want to talk about your fertility with others,” Dr. Yoder explains. Here are some tips to navigate these conversations.
Assume your people are well-meaning
Just because Aunt Sue’s voice sounds judgy doesn’t necessarily mean it is. “It’s a lot easier to deal with these kinds of questions or comments if you know [or think] their intentions are good or if they are simply ill-informed,” Dr. Yoder explains. “It all depends on how much you’ve disclosed to someone about your situation with fertility. If they know you’re struggling, assume they’re trying to help. If they don’t, assume blissful ignorance.”
Dr. Yoder suggests coming up with an actual one-liner to help you get through the problematic talking points. “At every stage of life, we’re asked when the next “thing” will be. It’s best to go in with a game plan and a canned response, so you don’t have to linger too long. It’s up to you how direct you want to be,” she says. Some suggested Babe-approved responses: “None of your business” or “We’ll let you know when there’s something to let you know!”
Don’t assume sharing will suck
“Depending on your comfort level, you can use the opportunity to share your experience,” suggests Dr. Yoder. “Many folks ask questions, not realizing the emotions they can bring up. You can feel free to say you’re in the middle of fertility treatments, struggling to conceive or share any other part of your journey you feel comfortable discussing. This way, people understand firsthand how damaging these questions can be and may think twice about asking them again.”
Build a support system
You do not need to be an island of one (or even two). “Even if you decide not to share your journey with friends and family members, there are many online support networks such as Resolve.org or Peanut, to name a few,” Dr. Yoder recommends. “These groups can help you feel less isolated, empower you with knowledge, and connect you with other individuals in similar situations.”
Develop a mindfulness practice
Don’t roll your eyes. It actually works. “Journaling, meditation, acupuncture, yoga, and spending time in nature are all grounding activities,” Dr. Yoder says. “They can help cultivate an internal sense of peace and calm, even when external situations are challenging.”
Seek professional help
If you’re still feeling out of sorts, or extra anxious, there are professional therapists specializing in treating patients struggling with fertility journeys. “Therapy can provide a safe space to work through your emotions and share tangible tools to help navigate this challenging time,” recommends Dr. Yoder.
This article was written in partnership with Spring Fertility. Spring Fertility operates full-service fertility clinics in New York and the Bay Area.