By Sarah Banks, fertility support life coach
As we head towards the New Year, it can bring mixed emotions when you have been trying and struggling to get pregnant
You may feel like it’s a fresh start and optimistic that this year could be the year. You might feel you’re going to make lots of changes to make sure it happens.
Or you may already be dreading another year of feeling the same as last year – that your life is on hold, that you can’t plan anything in case it clashes with treatment and that you’ve got no control over what your year will be like.
This is completely normal and happens to all of us (including me). I remember that overwhelming feeling that I didn’t want another year feeling like I had been doing, that I couldn’t be excited about a new year because the last five years had been so difficult that I couldn’t see this one being any different.
It’s really hard starting a new year feeling so despondent and negative, so I wanted to share some ideas on how you can make yourself feel that bit better going in to the new year.
These ideas are about doing what works for you, picking things that will help you feel happier starting the new year and like you have control over your year and your life. They’re not about adding extra stress to you or another thing to feel bad for not doing. Do them as and when you feel like it and when you need it, I want you to feel that little bit happier and hopeful.
Think about all the things you’ve always wanted to do
Make a list of things you’ve wanted to achieve/learn/do and pick one to start working towards. It’s not about beating yourself up if you don’t achieve in the time you plan, it’s about helping you feel that you’re in control of your life, to give you a different focus for some of the time and help you feel that you’re not stuck in a rut. Start with small steps so its not overwhelming. Every little thing that you tick off your action list will help you feel like you are moving forward with something and taking control.
Celebrate your successes from the last year
Write a list of what you have achieved in the last year, write everything down, however small. The fact you have survived the year is a huge one, you’ve grown, you’ve learnt more about yourself and your fertility and you’ve seen just how strong you can be. This list will help you through when you are feeling wobbly – remind yourself how amazing you are and that you can get through it.
Plan in dates with your other half so you have things to look forward to:
Create a list of things you enjoy doing together and do them. Think of all the things you both used to enjoy doing before all your focus became TTC and treatment. Make a list and start planning them in It will be nice to think of ideas together and then will be something nice to look forward to doing together. Be as creative as you can and maybe each come up with different surprise ideas to add to the fun of it.
Make time to do things together as a couple where you can focus on your relationship. Book a date night or a weekend away where you don’t talk about TTC and just relax/have fun together. If money is tight it doesn’t have to be anything expensive – find places that are free and have some day trips together.
Plan things with your friends
Get things booked in that you can look forward to. Try not to let fear and worrying you’ll have to cancel stop you, if you do need to cancel, your friends will understand, and if you don’t need to cancel then you’ll be happy that you booked it in. If most of your friends have children or are pregnant, think about whether there is another group of people you know that you could start to do more with – colleagues, a group you know through a hobby, friends from the gym, a wider group of friends.
Plan in time for self-care – It’s so important
Struggling to conceive is hard enough, and we forget that we should still be happy, that TTC can take a long time, and it’s a long time to be sad and deny ourselves of the things that we enjoy.
It’s time to start putting focus back on your emotional wellbeing. On doing things that make you happy, making time every day to do something (no matter how small) that makes you smile.
Realise how important you are, and how important it is to look after your emotional health. You can’t keep going every day if you are not looking after yourself and you are feeling like you are running on empty.
When can you fit some time in to dedicate to self-care, what could you do that makes you relax and smile? Schedule it in to your diary and prioritise it – you are very important!
Create a ‘daily happiness’ plan
Think about all the things that you enjoy and make you smile. It can be something really small (speaking to a certain friend, reading a book), to something really big (having a weekend away). Once you’ve got a list you can plan something in to every day, so you have something to smile about. Here is a link to my daily happiness plan to help you think about your list and scheduling it in. Remember it’s not about adding to your busy day and giving you more stress, it’s supposed to make you feel better and make you smile.
To find out more about Sarah’ Daily Happiness Plan, click here
Take control of your fertility treatment
If you are feeling out of control of your fertility journey sit down and write a list of all the things you could do to help you feel like you have more control.
Write a list of questions you want to ask your clinic to give you more clarity.
Give your clinic a call for an update of you are between appointments or on a waiting list to find out next steps.
Read up on lifestyle changes you could consider making to increase your fertility and help your general health and wellbeing.
Research any support groups that are held locally that you could attend to talk to others in a similar situation for peer support and advice.
And most importantly, be kind to yourself
This is a really tough thing you are going through. It’s normal to feel sad, angry, frustrated, jealous and so many other emotions. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling like that. If you feel rubbish one day, it’s ok to cry and feel sad about how unfair it is. Don’t force yourself to feel you should be acting any particular way, just remind yourself that it’s tough and you’re coping the best you can.
If you are struggling one day please try to do one little thing that makes you smile, however small, and if you are finding that you’re struggling regularly please speak to someone about how you can get more support – there is absolutely no shame in needing more support, it’s normal and will make a real difference to how you feel on a daily basis. There are lots of amazing professionals who will understand and help you make sense of your emotions and support you through it.
Take care, you are doing amazing. If you would like to talk to others in a similar situation you are more than welcome to join my online support group Surviving Infertility.