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"I hated the holidays because I was infertile."

Liz and Steve had been happily married for 7 years. They lived a near perfect life with stable careers, a paid-off house mortgage, an adorable dog, Mucco, and most importantly, endless love for each other. Their parents and in laws lived in the same city so having that unconditional family support was also a huge blessing.

However it was the holiday season that was particularly painful for them both. Liz and Steve, despite being fortunate enough to have everything a couple could wish for, had a huge, gaping void in their lives: the absence of a child they so achingly longed for.

Liz with her nurturing and warm personality was already a mother albeit to Mucco, and Steve with his love and passion for adventure, and learning new things could just not wait to have a kid of his own with whom he could explore the world.

Owing to Steve's abnormally low sperm count and Liz's PCOS, the couple was struggling with both male and female factor infertility. Despite trying multiple rounds of IVF, things were just not looking good.

Given their close proximity to their family, they could always count on their support and presence to distract them from the biggest tragedy of their lives however, during the holiday season things would just slightly out of hand with all the big family gatherings circling around small kids and Santa's presents and family holiday cards sporting newborns and toddlers. Much as they absolutely adored their nephews and niece, they just couldn't help feel jealous and incomplete looking at other people's young kids.

Liz would often picture doing her pregnancy announcement on New Year's Eve, just like so many of her cousins and friends had done. It would bring her to tears just even thinking about hypothetically.

She would also imagine all the presents she would keep under the Christmas tree for their child to open up and beam with pure joy. She would still religiously hang up stockings over her fireplace stuffed with goodies and bake Christmas cookies for all the kids of the family to kind of cope with the storm of emotions brimming inside her. They would often lament though that all those kisses under the mistletoe, the ultimate symbol of fertility, went in vain.

Every year, as the holidays drew closer, Liz and Steve, in a bid to take more control of their emotions, would host a small family gathering of their own just so they could have the liberty to drive the event and festivities as per their own liking and not exclusively focus on kids and pregnancy announcements.

Infertility can be a cold, lonely journey and there are hundreds and thousands of couples like Liz and Steve around you who might be going through hell right now thinking about and dreading this joyous season solely because of how it makes them feel.

So this holiday season, let's try to be a little extra mindful of our friends and family battling infertility in terms of how we celebrate around them. There's no harm in going the extra mile and checking up on them just to make sure they're holding up well. It's noteworthy to remember that most often, these warriors are fighting a silent battle and our simple, kind gestures can give them that much needed sense of empathy that they desire.


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