Christmas is a time when we celebrate birth, family and life. It’s a time for happiness and sharing. But for those suffering with infertility, it can also be a time when we are reminded of our inability to have the family of our dreams
So, whether you fall in the one in six going through Christmas without a baby, or you are a family member or friend of someone who is, Andreia Trigo offers some strategies to help you have a great Christmas.
If you are going through fertility challenges
Save time for yourself, to do the things you enjoy doing. Between normal life, preparing for Christmas and meeting family and friends, we can easily forget to do something for ourselves. Whether it’s reading, going to the gym, going for a walk or just a lazy Sunday morning, make sure this time is set aside for you.
Christmas Foods vs Fertility Diet
Christmas is a time for indulging in tasty meals and deserts. This can be challenging if you have made changes to your diet aimed at improving fertility. I usually say that a healthy diet is important, but it shouldn’t be the main concern in your life. The rule of 80/20, eating well and healthy most of the time, is a good guidance. You can still follow this rule and at the same time allow a special treat over Christmas.
Responding to Questions from Family and Friends
Christmas if often a time when you meet and catch up with family and friends you haven’t seen in a while. Catching up is tricky as often you are questioned about what we’ve been up to, about relationships, children and alike. This social pressure can be harder if your family and friends are not aware of your circumstances or not sensitive enough to know how to deal with it. Over the years I have used different responses to these questions: from saying I couldn’t have children – which made people pity me; to saying I didn’t want children – which made people label me as selfish. So, I don’t think there is a right or perfect answer, just make sure that in whatever way you answer, you put yourself first and don’t let anyone make you feel bad about where you are in your journey.
Adverts and commercials tend to be focused on children around Christmas with pictures of ‘perfect’ families around a well decorated tree with lots of presents. The reality is that there is no ‘perfect family’. Families come in many shapes and sizes and are often messy, far from the picture we get from the media. Remember that everyone’s journey is different, that you have meaningful people in your life and that you are loved.
Connecting to oneself
Busy times with a lot of triggers are challenging so you may need to remember to keep grounded and connect with yourself, as it may be the one strategy that makes a real difference. I like to start my morning with a 3-minute mindfulness where I send a blessing to people that are important in my life, identify a couple of things I envision creating and affirm that no matter what happens that day, I will be in a state of peace, love, joy and gratitude. And at the end of the day, I like to keep my gratitude journal, where I write at least 3 things I am grateful for that day. These strategies have helped me throughout the year and are certainly a must-do during Christmas.
If you are a friend or family member supporting someone who is going through fertility challenges
Don’t ask about their private parts or the outcome of their sex life
Asking ‘when are you having children?’ creates a lot of pressure on a couple and it makes them feel like everyone is moving forward with their lives whilst they are stuck. It is also a reminder that they are spending one more Christmas without a baby and it hurts.
Don’t offer solutions
During a conversation keep yourself from offering solutions. Making decisions around IVF, donation, adoption, or stopping are emotionally challenging. Someone who has been trying to conceive has probably already thought about those options and tried more things than you can imagine. These topics are not light conversation to be brought up casually around the dinner table.
Don’t say we’re lucky
This is probably one of the worst things you could say to someone who has been trying so hard for a baby. They would give anything for the sleepless nights a baby brings, for the money spent on children’s presents, or for the challenge of cooking a Christmas meal with children around the kitchen.
Being understanding means being kind, empathic, acknowledging the other person’s challenges without judging. It means being mindful of your actions and words and how they can affect your loved one.
Be available to listen
Someone going through fertility challenges will talk about it when they feel ready to do so. Be available to listen. Sometimes a hug speaks more than a thousand words.
And may you have an amazing Christmas.
Click here for a free consultation with me, a fertility nurse and coach, so I can give you specialist advice on coping with this challenging time of year.