When you are struggling to conceive, Christmas time can be really tough.
Christmas can be a time of reflection on what you have done and achieved throughout the year. There may be family events and it can be difficult as it puts so much focus on children.
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.
With restrictions on what we can do this year, it may make avoiding events a bit easier, but also means that some of the things we enjoy and that make us happy will be cancelled too.
This year more than ever, it is so important 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 something you look forward to.
If you are struggling this Christmas please be kind to yourself and reach out to someone that understands, so you can talk honestly about how you feel and get the support you need. Here are some of my tips to help you through the Christmas holidays. I know it can be tough sometimes, 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 or upset, it’s ok and perfectly normal to feel these things. Just acknowledge your feelings 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, planning in meditation time each day, 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. There may be restrictions on some things you enjoy, but that does not mean you can't plan things in, you may just need to be a bit more creative!
Plan in activities 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 — watch a good film, treat yourself to a meal or do something Christmassy like make a wreath or go for a walk to see the Christmas lights. Depending on which tier you are in, there will be limitations, so think about the things you can do safely, and you may need to do some things virtually this year.
Think of the things you do have, not what you don’t have
Write a list of all the things in your life that are important or 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 events that focus on drinking, plan in alternative events. In some ways this may even be easier this year with restrictions on pubs and bars. Think creatively about what you can do – Online foodie courses, walks with friends, smaller meet ups, virtual quizzes, or murder mystery nights.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to meet with friends, look for non-alcoholic alternatives so you can still feel like you are involved.
Treat yourself to something new so you feel good about yourself
It could be for a Christmas event, or just because it’s Christmas time. It doesn’t need to be expensive or a full outfit, it could be new earrings, a scented candle or that bag you’ve had your eye on. Something that will make you smile and feel good in yourself.
Plan in some goals you would like to achieve in the next year
Many people set New Year’s resolutions, but often 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 your life.
Give yourself permission to miss events that you will find hard
For example, family get togethers where there will be lots of babies or your 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 wellbeing. It's ok to say no!
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 gatherings (even virtual ones!). Think of an answer beforehand 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. Again, the restrictions this year are making it more difficult to spend time with those we care about, but technology will continue to help us stay connected, and you can meet in smaller groups to create great Christmas memories.
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 help out a charity or make Christmas boxes for the homeless, collect shopping for someone that is shielding or offer to wrap presents for elderly family members.
Use your support system
If you are having a bad day, call a friend or family member who understands. Explain that you are feeling sad and just need someone to listen to you. There are support groups that are a great source of support and understanding such as my TTC support group on Facebook.
A little more about the author…
Sarah Banks is a Fertility Coach who works with women struggling to conceive and women going through IVF. She helps them to take positive action on their fertility journey and get to a better place emotionally. IVF Planner
Written on 08/12/2020 Review by 08/12/2023