Tips to cope at Christmas
For many, Christmas is an exciting time spent with family and loved ones, but for some, Christmas can be a difficult time. With the emphasis on family and children, it can be a challenging time for those struggling with fertility. Meet up's with friends who have already started their families can often be a stark reminder of failed cycles or feeling like you are behind.
This time of year is not just a difficult time for females, often, many male partners can feel pressure, especially when friends and family pop the “So, when do you plan to have a baby?” question around the dinner table. As it is the time of year to catch up with old friends, it can be common for friends or family whom you may not have seen in a while to ask this while catching up. For most, this is an innocent, curious question, but we understand that it can be very upsetting when you and your partner are trying so hard.
Therefore, it can be helpful to be prepared for these questions and scenarios. Here are some tips and advice to help you through the Christmas period and still enjoy the festivities with loved ones.
It is okay to say “no”.
There may be certain social occasions that you find difficult over Christmas. It is okay to say no if you feel upset or uncomfortable attending. If this is the case, try to avoid being pressured into attending these events. If you don't feel confident enough to refuse outright the invitation, you could suggest an alternative that might be easier for you, e.g., meeting your friend for a coffee rather than visiting their family home. If there is an event that you simply can't avoid, try to confide your anxieties to a trusted friend who'll be there too, it can help to have someone there who can support you.
Prepare some responses beforehand
Take some time beforehand to think about how you would like to respond to questions about starting a family or fertility. Pre-empting these questions is a useful way of protecting yourself and your emotions. It can be helpful to have some answers prepared to the common questions people may ask.
So, when do you plan to have a baby?
Having a baby is a very private and personal event, and you may not want to discuss it publicly with others; however, when catching up with old friends, this may be innocently asked whilst they try to get an update since they saw you last. It can be useful to prepare an answer for this, so you are not put on the spot.
You’re still young it will happen when it happens
They don't know your medical history, treatment plan or what impact it may have on the outcome. Again, it may be an innocent comment, but it is a common one that people can say in passing, thinking it is reassuring. It can be helpful to be emotionally prepared for comments like this.
Just relax, and it will happen!
The reality is that most couples only have 12 chances of getting pregnant each year, so ‘just relaxing’ will not alter this. Sex at the right time of the month is essential for conception, which is why it can be useful to keep a close track of your likely ovulation date. Again this may be a fleeting offer of 'reassurance' so it is good to be prepared as it can be frustrating to hear.
Have you tried supplements/ teas /alternative methods etc.
This can be very frustrating when you and your partner are following all the medical advice and doing everything you can. It can seem like someone is diminishing your doctor's advice. However, someone might suggest these as a way of trying to offer help so it can be useful to acknowledge they are trying to help but let them know you are following professional medical advice.
Can’t you just adopt?
Adoption is a lengthy and difficult process and may not be suitable for some couples. This sort of question also minimises and dismisses how much you want to have your own child. It can be useful to prepare an answer you are comfortable with if this arises.
Don’t be afraid to change the subject
Don’t be afraid to change the subject to something else. You are allowed to say that you do not wish to talk about it. Try to steer the conversation away if it makes you uncomfortable or simply let the person know that you would rather not discuss it.
You are still allowed to enjoy Christmas with your family and friends.
Christmas is a key time to spend time with those you love, whatever your family unit looks like. It is often easy to focus on what we don’t have but don’t lose sight of those in your life who love and care about you. Some people may feel guilty for being excited about Christmas and catching up with friends. For many, the fertility journey can be long and tiring so it is important to practice self-care and remind yourself that you are allowed to enjoy yourself and time with your loved ones. Use this time to recharge and focus on yourself.
Tips on how to support your loved ones going through fertility struggles this Christmas
Often fertility is very private and it can be easy to say the wrong thing or you may also know someone struggling or going through treatment. Last year we put together some tips for those who are supporting loved ones with fertility issues at Christmas. Read it here to help you understand how some couples may be feeling at this particular time and some tips on how to help them through their fertility journey.