The UK’s leading fertility charity, Fertility Network UK, has put together some top tips for anyone who may be trying to conceive around the festive period
Christmas is very family-focused and when you’re longing for a baby it can seem impossible that you could ever enjoy this time of year, but there are things you can do to make it feel less painful.
Don’t feel obliged to do things that will upset you
You may already have a diary packed with events organised by family and friends, some of which you know will feel unbearably difficult if everyone else has young children or if other people are going to spend the whole time asking when you’re going to get round to starting a family.
There are no rules about Christmas and what you should and shouldn’t do. If you want to spend your precious hard-earned holiday hours tucked up at home, away from family and friends, social media, and the rest of the world, then do that. It is fine to turn down invitations to events that would simply be too painful to attend.
You may feel anxious about upsetting family or friends, particularly if you aren’t able to explain why it will be so difficult for you, but there’s often a way of compromising. You could consider spending a period of time at a family event you feel you really can’t miss, whether that means arriving late or leaving early and just attending part of the celebration.
Make your own traditions with an adult-only focus
We are bombarded by images of what a traditional Christmas is, but you can make your own traditions. Start to create your own festive traditions whether that involves spending the day in pyjamas watching your favourite film or going on a long walk in the countryside.
If you have other friends who don’t have children, it’s a good time to spend time together and you may even want to consider getting away entirely for the holiday season if you can. Another option is to volunteer for a charity over the Christmas period which can be very rewarding.
Allow yourself to feel sad
We have become so conditioned to thinking that we should “cope” with things, that sometimes it can feel as if we are in a constant battle with our emotions. If you need to, have a day where you say this is the day where I am sad; I am not going to pretend everything is okay. This is the day when I allow myself to feel all these emotions: anger, grief, jealousy – everything. Then tomorrow, I’m going to do something that makes me feel good about myself.
Have you tried mindfulness?
Many fertility patients have found a benefit from mindfulness, and being engrossed in the present can help you to stop worrying so much about your fears for the future or your concerns about the past. Fertility Network UK has an Introduction to Mindfulness webinar that may be helpful if this is something you’d like to know more about. Watch the webinar here
Look after yourself
Make sure you’ve made time for doing things you enjoy over the Christmas period with space just for you. What makes us happy is a very individual thing, but whether it’s going to bed early with a book, doing a yoga class, baking or having a candlelit bath, it’s really important to schedule in time for yourself and for the things you know make you feel good.
Seek out support
Knowing that you are not alone can make all the difference. One in six couples in the UK struggle with fertility problems; that’s somebody on every street in the country.
Being in touch with others who are going through similar issues can make all the difference. Fertility Network UK is your charity and we are here for you. Our closed Facebook groups and online Health Unlocked forum give a link to others who are trying to conceive, and our groups for those in particular circumstances, such as those who are moving on from treatment, over 40s or single women, have proved really helpful to many over the past year.
Whatever happens, do not be pressured by anybody else to do something you don’t want to. This is your Christmas and you are allowed to choose your own way to spend it.
Acknowledge your feelings, identify what may make you feel good, and, above all, be kind to yourself