There are often lots of family events and it is a time of reflection on what you have done and achieved throughout the year. This can be difficult as it puts so much focus on children, and it is difficult to avoid.
I found myself getting upset around Christmas time, and getting more so with each year that passed without getting pregnant. I saw Christmas as a milestone that I still didn’t have a baby. Every year I thought ‘next Christmas we’ll have a baby’, so it was hard when Christmas came, but there was still no baby.
It is so important at this time of year to focus on self-care and the things you do have, rather than the things you don’t. It is easier to cope with things when you are feeling stronger emotionally and taking care of yourself.
Think about how you can redefine Christmas time as a positive and exciting time with your partner, friends and family. Time off work, time with friends and time for self-care. A time for starting new traditions with your partner and friends, so that Christmas becomes a time to look forward to.
If you are struggling this Christmas please be kind to yourself and talk to someone that understands, so you can talk honestly about how you feel and get the support you need.
Below are some tips to help you get through the Christmas holidays. I know how tough it can be, so take small steps and do what you need to do to get through it.
Be kind to yourself - allow yourself to feel however you feel, don’t beat yourself up over feeling sad/jealous/upset, it’s ok and perfectly normal to feel these things. Just acknowledge it and do things that make you feel nice and that make you smile.
Plan in time for self-care - treat yourself to things that make you feel happy and good about yourself. This may be getting your nails done, having a beauty treatment, taking some time out on your own to read a good book or go for a walk, having a nice long lie in or taking part in your favourite hobby.
Plan in things to do as a couple or with friends. As you may have some time off work, use it to plan in nice trips, things as a couple or with friends that make you feel good — cinema, out for a meal, Christmassy markets.
Think of the things you do have, not what you don’t have. Write a thankful list for all the things in your life that are important/special that you are thankful for — close family, strong relationship, great friends, fulfilling job etc. It doesn’t have to be big things, it is just good to focus on the positive things.
If you’re not drinking over Christmas – rather than organising nights out that focus on drinking, plan in going out for meals with friends where the focus is on food, or suggest doing something different to things you usually do, where drinking isn’t the focus – ice skating, bowling, going to the cinema, a day at the Christmas markets, etc.
If you don’t want people to know you’re not drinking - If you’ve got nights out planned or a works Christmas do, look for non-alcoholic alternatives so can still feel like you are involved or confide in a friend you can trust who can pretend to order alcoholic drinks for you (lemonade disguised as gin/vodka etc) or say you’re driving as you have a big family event the next day.
Treat yourself to a new outfit so you feel good about yourself – it could be for your Christmas party, or for over Christmas time. It doesn’t need to be expensive or a full outfit, it could be new earrings, a new bag or shoes, etc. Something that will make you smile and feel good in yourself.
Treat yourself to the IVF Positivity Planner - The planner helps you focus on the good things in your life, and it helps you plan some goals for the things you'd love to do. It supports you in focussing on your relationship and coping at this difficult time, and most of all it helps you feel happier and stronger, and more able to cope when you are feeling wobbly. Treat yourself to the planner as a little Christmas gift to yourself, so you can go in to the New Year feeling positive and looking forward to spending more time on yourself. Or you can add it to your Christmas list.
Use the time to plan in some goals you would like to achieve in the next year. Many people set new years resolutions, but many of those don’t follow them through. Rather than a resolution think about what else you would like to do next year, a trip somewhere, starting a new course or a hobby. Think of this as outside of trying for a baby. It will give you a focus and help you feel more in control of you life.
Give yourself permission to miss events that you will find hard - family parties where there will be lots of babies/family asking when you will have a baby. If your close family know you are struggling to conceive you can explain that you find those events difficult at the minute and that you need to look after your emotional well being.
Dodge the ‘when are you starting a family’ question. You will always get some well intentioned (but not subtle) family member or friend asking this question at family gatherings. Think of an answer before hand so you can reply and move on quickly. Something simple like ‘we’ll let you know when we have news to share’ will do the job and then just change the subject.
Start new traditions with your partner, family and friends. Create a tradition as a couple or with your friends that you can continue over the years — like all going for dinner on a certain date in December, having a Christmas shopping trip where you go and have dinner out together somewhere, a group trip to the Christmas markets etc.
Focus on others. It’s really important to look after yourself at Christmas time, but helping other people is a great way to make yourself feel good, keep busy and make a difference to someone else’s life. You could maybe visit someone elderly or lonely over Christmas, help out a charity or make Christmas boxes for the homeless.
Use your support system - if you are having a bad day, call a friend or family member that understands and just say you are feeling sad and just need a hug or someone to listen to you. There are support groups that are a great source of support and understanding. I run a free private Facebook community that you are welcome to join called ‘Surviving Infertility’.
Happy Christmas, I hope it’s a good one xx