Written by Deborah Brock, CEO – Nua Fertility
Christmas is one of the most beautiful times of the year and my favorite time. My mother loves Christmas; growing up, our home was like Santa’s grotto! Every year, as our family grew with outlaws (our sister and brother-in-law), so did the pitter-patter of feet, and my gorgeous nephews began to arrive and light up the place. Christmas morning was chaotic (that is, putting it lightly). I loved it! BUT, and an excessively big but, each year, I secretly hoped I would be able to surprise everyone with a baby onesie saying, “Merry Christmas, see you in July.” I secretly hoped to experience the wonder and joy through my own child’s eyes.
For those of us trying to conceive or have experienced loss when trying to conceive, Christmas can be triggering, but like me, it can also be very isolating if you have chaos. A reminder that this is yet another year in which we will not be able to celebrate as we would have liked. At Christmas, family gatherings bring unwanted questions from family members. Friends and couples on your social media feeds are announcing pregnancies.
As we are heading towards Christmas, I want you to know that I understand and have been there. It is a tough time. Remember, though, that you are unique, loved, resilient, and will get through this. Infertility and TTC (Trying to conceive) can make you feel that you have no control. I am all about taking control, and the holiday season is no different. So, here are my tips that you can use to take back some control this festive season proactively.
Know your triggers
The first thing I recommend is to make sure you know what will trigger your negative emotions. If you know specific questions from family members will cause you pain, note them down. If you know that scrolling on Instagram or Facebook and seeing someone else’s pregnancy announcement will hurt, limit your time on social media. Before you make an action plan, make sure you understand what can cause you to feel sadness, hurt, or pain.
Journal your feelings
I have found that journaling is one of the most effective ways to release and process your emotions. If you are not ready to share your feelings or struggle to find people to share your feelings with, find a notebook and pen and write it all down. If you can, make a habit of it—something you can look forward to every day.
If you know you will be asked awkward questions, think about what they might be and construct appropriate responses beforehand to prevent yourself from getting flustered when they pop up in conversation. What do I say to family members if they ask me if I am trying for a baby? Here are some responses to have in preparation:
“Our situation hasn’t been easy, but we are hoping things will turn around soon!”
“We’ve been struggling, but I hope that our time is coming.”
“It’s taking longer than expected, so I’m not sure.”
“We are trying! Hopefully, it will happen soon! “
You can be honest but do not feel the need or pressure to explain more than you must.
Christmas can be so overwhelming when you are trying for a baby. Everything can seem to be about everyone else, and there does not seem to be any “me time”. Be selfish! If there is a party you do not want to go to, or family obligations are bringing you down, step back and ask yourself, “will this make me feel better or worse?” It’s OK to say no and utilize that time to be completely selfish. Instead, do something you enjoy. Maybe take a relaxing bath, read a book, go for a walk, watch a movie, whatever you want to do that will give you some sense of self-care. Our blog on tips to lower your stress while trying to conceive will certainly help you get yourself away for a bit.
Don’t isolate yourself from everyone
Confide in people you feel comfortable telling. If you have friends without children, plan with them to do something fun with them.
Social media during Christmas time tends to reflect perfect, happy families–a painful reminder of what we want but don’t yet have. Remember that social media is not a true reflection of people’s lives; it’s just a snippet of what they want others to see. You can choose to mute certain social media accounts during this time of year. You can also look for new social media accounts to follow, giving you a sense of belonging and support. Or you can also disconnect.
A holiday? A spa day? A night out with the girls? A new dress? If there is something, or a few things, to give yourself another focus, or something to look forward to, then do it.
Journal your feelings
Anticipate that your emotions will be up and down and that this is OK. I’ve found that journaling is one of the most effective ways to release and process your emotions when trying to conceive. If you’re not ready to share your feelings or you’re struggling to find people to share your feelings with, find a notebook and pen and write it all down. If you can, make a habit of it—something you can look forward to every day.
You are not alone-reach out if you need help
It’s also important to understand that you are not alone. Many couples with fertility issues are experiencing the same feelings this Christmas. If you’re grieving a loss right now or you’re still having trouble processing your emotions, please reach out to a specialist for help. Connect with support groups through social media or a charity network such as the National Infertility Support & Information group of Fertility Network UK https://fertilitynetworkuk.org/. If you’re going to be with family during the holidays, make sure you have people you can turn to if you feel triggered in any way.
Christmas triggers can creep up on you and may seem to be everywhere, and the truth is that we are all different, and there is no one way to manage them. Remember, be gentle with yourself this Christmas, recognise that there may be challenging times but always honour your feelings and do what is right for you. Stay strong in your trying to conceive journey.