Coping with Infertility at Christmas
“Christmas can be a painful reminder that the dream of motherhood / fatherhood has still not (yet) come true”
Another year, another Christmas without a baby? Anyone who is experiencing infertility or coping with unsuccessful fertility treatment recently will know all too well that this time of year can be extremely difficult.
As December rapidly approaches, we are constantly bombarded - Christmas is a time for families and children. For people experiencing infertility, it’s often a painful reminder of fertility struggles and the failure of not being able to have your own ‘longed for’ children. Each year, Christmas advertising appears to be begin earlier in shops, online and in the media… there’s just no getting away from it!
It’s no surprise to hear that it can bring up a range of difficult emotions for those facing the challenges of infertility and childlessness. It’s important to recognise and acknowledge that these feelings are completely valid. Sensations of isolation, sadness, even depression – are some of the most difficult human emotions we will ever have to deal with. Remember - these are perfectly normal for someone experiencing infertility. You are not going mad and certainly far from being alone.
With this in mind, the idea of hiding somewhere far away until the beginning of January might feel like a very attractive option. But if that’s not possible, in order to increase your chances of having a peaceful and pleasant Christmas, it’s worth doing some thoughtful planning ahead to help reduce the pressure, stress and sadness that you might feel. As well as being prepared for the heightened emotions you may experience, here are some useful tips:
- It’s OK that you’re not OK !
Infertility is a disease and the emotional impact and distress of such is significant. Being honest about how you are feeling, especially with those close to you, helps others to understand why you may not be feeling the Christmas spirit this year. It’s important that you put your needs first, often we put a brave face on when we’re struggling inside. Honour your feelings and accept that they are part of the grief that you are experiencing.
- It’s OK to say No.
It is absolutely ok to say “No, thank you” to Christmas events, gatherings and work-dos that you would rather not attend. Remember, no one knows just how much you have been through or how difficult it is to manage in these situations. Fertility treatment can take its toll emotionally and physically, sometimes you just need some space and to give yourself permission to ‘opt out’ of parties that may well be triggering.
- Family Pressures
If even the thought of catching up with relatives that you have not seen for a year and being asked the dreaded question “so, you’re not pregnant yet?”, is already on your mind… perhaps it’s time to create a plan. Christmas can be stressful at the best of times but it’s all about giving yourself permission and space to do it ‘your way’. If the family get together is already making you feel fearful and anxious - remember that you always have a choice. Let them know early that you won’t be attending this year.
- New Traditions & Ritual
Christmas may not be how you had imagined but it can be an opportunity to create your own rituals and new traditions. Having an ‘Adults Christmas’, going on holiday or away for a few days, or using it as an opportunity to stop, relax and recharge yourself are some possible options.
“Christmas is different to how I’d imagined as a child, making our own traditions and rituals is a great way to reclaim our Christmas”
It is very easy throughout fertility treatment to forget to look after yourself. Self-care is one of the most important things you can do to help nurture, love and look after yourself. This holiday season, take time out, treat yourself to lovely food, go for walks, see friends you are comfortable with, enjoy a film and plan time to ‘just be’.
So this Christmas, be gentle with yourself, recognise that there may be difficult times but remember to honour your feelings and do what is right for you. Know your limits and try not to set yourself up to fail by expecting too much of yourself. Remember, it’s ok to say no to events that you may find upsetting so ensure you plan your own Christmas that you can manage this year.
We have CARE Support Events planned in December, both an online Skype Support Event and Walk N Talk event.
For more information or support on how to manage Christmas please visit: https://www.carefertility.com/support/events/support-events/
What ever you do, have a lovely Christmas time doing what’s right for you.
Kelly Da Silva, CARE Support Co-ordinator