December is now in full swing and so too are many of the festivities it brings: work Christmas parties, get-togethers with friends, and plenty of family gatherings. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, isn’t it?! In many ways yes, of course it is. But when you are trying to conceive and have been for some time, the festive period brings about a whole host of overwhelming emotions and potential challenges. Christmas is a family occasion and this in itself can bring about a certain sadness when you feel that your family isn’t yet complete. It can often feel like you are surrounded by adverts and shop windows filled with children’s toys; you may have to buy presents for friends’ babies or nieces and nephews – things you wish you were buying for your own child, or your social-media feed is becoming increasingly overtaken by friends sharing photos of their children meeting Father Christmas and taking part in many other magical experiences. All of these things can heighten the sense of longing you may have for something you don’t yet have. Christmas is also a time for reflecting on the year’s events. It can be a difficult milestone of another year passing without having that baby in your arms. I know I personally put a lot of pressure on myself about having our baby with us for the next Christmas, or at least being able to share the news of our pregnancy with the family on Christmas Day! But when December edged ever closer and we still weren’t ‘there’, it made our situation just that little more painful.
However, it is so important that you try to take positive steps to take this pressure off of yourselves and try and enjoy what is a wonderful time filled with love and warmth. In this article we will discuss ways to help you enjoy Christmas as much as possible, as well as reassuring you that it is ok to feel the way you are and to be kind to yourself.
Be prepared for the questions
With so many get togethers, one potential challenge can be fielding questions regarding when you are going to be having a baby – especially from those older aunts and uncles you may not see regularly, or that co-worker you get stuck talking to at the bar at the office party who doesn’t quite know how to make small talk and so asks the ‘obvious’ baby related questions. If you are readily prepared with a few well-rehearsed lines that will politely move the conversation on, you are less likely to be taken off guard and respond emotionally. Take positive control and head them off before they get to you. Consider confiding in a family member or friend about your concerns in this area; they may also be able to steer conversations away from the subject of babies.
Talk with your partner and other members of your support network about what you feel might be particular sticking points and plan ways to either avoid them altogether or make them more manageable for you. Don’t be afraid to excuse yourself from certain gatherings if you feel they will be too difficult, but also have a little more faith that you are stronger than you know and that these things are never quite as bad as we think they will be. Spending time with the people we love is what is important, and they will respect you for coming along but also for knowing when you’ve reached your limits and need to bow out. If having to go out shopping for friends’ or family’s babies is going to be tough for you to do because being surrounded by baby outfits and toys is a little too much, perhaps agree you will give gift vouchers or do online shopping instead.
Go easy on yourself
Part of the journey to conceive very often involves making changes to our diet and lifestyle in order to maximise our chances. This usually means cutting back on drinking or stopping altogether, as well as following a healthy diet containing fertility boosting foods and avoiding fatty, overly-processed options. This can be hard to stick to at the best of times, but even more so during the festive period when there is such a focus on over-indulging and toasting with several glasses of bubbles. It’s what many of us enjoy most about this time (although often regret massively come New Year!) Whilst it is important not to let yourself slip too much over Christmas and New Year and undo a lot of your hard work to date, it should also be noted that it will not damage your chances if you eat that one mince pie you’ve been craving, or toast in the New Year with a glass of champagne. Relax, allow yourself a small break and really savour it – just don’t go mad! Why not try experimenting with a few mocktails to make having to steer clear of alcohol a little more interesting and appealing? Click here for a selection of delicious non-alcoholic options.
Be kind to yourself
Self-care is vital for ensuring you are mentally and therefore physically strong enough to face the challenges infertility throws at us; so put yourself first. Organise plenty of opportunities to do the things that make you happy. Go for a walk in the countryside, binge on your favourite festive movies, go for dinner with a friend, or spend a day at a spa with your partner. It is important to spend quality time with your other half and appreciate what you have together, remembering what you love about one another. Focus on the wonderful things you do have in your life as opposed to what you don’t yet have. Perhaps write a ‘thankful list’ of both big and small things and read it each morning to start the day on a positive note. Although talking to others about our fertility struggles isn’t for everyone, try and open up to at least one other person than your partner. Having a support network can really help ease the pain and provide much needed comfort. And as always, the team at The Natural Fertility Clinic are here to offer guidance and support.
Look forward to the new year ahead
With New Year just around the corner, take the opportunity to plan the positive steps you as individuals and more importantly as a couple are going to take during the next chapter of your fertility journey. Can you make some diet and lifestyle changes, or perhaps take up a new hobby such as yoga? Could you try acupuncture or reflexology, or finally make that appointment with the IVF clinic to discuss your options? If you are embarking on your first or next round of fertility treatment, are you prepared with all the relevant information and have everything that you need to get going with confidence? It is a brand-new year and it holds so many possibilities; take those steps to make it your year.
By Suzanne Higgins
In our next article we will be looking ahead to the new year and discussing the idea of making an action plan of positive steps for your fertility journey.