Fertility support: A survivor’s guide to the festive season
Posted on 18.12.14
By Anya Sizer
Yesterday on the communte to work I overheard a couple of women talking about Christmas, one full of excitement, one less so. The one full of Christmas cheer was soon to be returning home to a house full of children, "It's an expensive time of year, but worth it," she said, "It's all about the children," she added as a throw away comment.
You would be forgiven too for thinking that she was indeed right. Christmas adverts show us happy children and happy families in every house throughout the land. For a few weeks of the year it feels like everything is geared, even more than usual, to the world of 2.5 kids and a Labrador.
A five-step plan
Going through fertility treatment is often a tough process, but it can be made harder at Christmas when everyone else seems to be full of festive spirit. So how can we help replace those "Bah, Humbug" thoughts with something more positive? Read on to find out.
Give yourself the best of gifts. Give yourself a break
This year if you are going through a tough season in your life, don't try to be brave. When you feel far from merry, don't feel you have to make everything perfect for everyone else or pretend it's all OK. If you are finding things tough going, it's fine - what you're experiencing is normal. Stop beating yourself up for feeling the way you do. You need to treat yourself with a little more kindness.
Realise you are not alone
I know it feels like everyone else is part of the so-called conventional family set up, but in reality it's not true. In fact, one in six couples this Christmas will be struggling to conceive, and that's not including people in a same-sex relationship or single women. Make a point to connect to those people with whom you have a shared experience. Online forums or our own support group at the LWC are fantastic ways of being with others who just "get it", helping to try and put aside those thoughtless comments from relatives you only see at this time of year, asking when you're going to start a family.
Plan and prepare for the Christmas season
Meet up with people who you can be yourself with, avoid social situations that just feel too overwhelming and prepare for the day itself. If you need it to be a bit different this year then go for it. Just because you have always done things in a certain way, it doesn't mean you have to at this time. Be aware that your emotional reserves are likely to be lower than usual and again, treat yourself with kindness.
Connect to something bigger
Though this may sound counter intuitive, focusing on something outside of ourselves can be helpful too. Christmas can be really difficult for many people and for many reasons. Maybe consider how you could help out with a homeless charity, go to church or give a present to someone you know who might also be struggling. Research tells us that there are plenty of emotional and physical benefits of being compassionate - in giving a little of yourself to others, you are taking care of yourself too. Paul Gilbert explores the science of compassion in his book, Compassionate Mind.
It's just a season
Christmas with all its intensity will soon be over and a new year will begin. Try to make the most of the close support around you and take time for yourself when you need it. All of us at LWC will join you as you hope for a positive and prosperous year ahead. We truly wish you all the best this Christmas and look forward to hearing from you next year.
If you feel you require support this Christmas, the LWC's next support group is on Monday 22nd December at 7pm-8:30pm. Alternatively you can contact Anya by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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