As if trying to conceive isn’t hard enough, there are so many reasons why the Holiday Season is particularly tough. Firstly of course there is the emphasis on family and children. Adverts, shops, films, social media – it’s hard to escape the happy family imagery. And then there’s a huge expectation to attend social events where even when children aren’t present, they are usually a popular topic of conversation. And then comes the dreaded question… “So when will you two start trying?”.
In Britain we tend to make the Holidays rather boozy – which if you’re choosing not to drink alcohol whilst trying to conceive, can come with a barrage of “Oh come on, get in the spirit!” or (much worse) “Ooh, why? I bet you’re pregnant aren’t you”.
There’s a lot of pressure at Christmas to be happy, socialise and spend money. It’s widely recognised that the Holidays can be a trigger for people with depression and other mental health issues. Since there is a link between fertility and mental health, it is especially important that we try to look after our wellbeing as much as we can during this time.
It’s not just Christmas that’s an emotional trigger, but New Year too. It’s a pivotal point in time where we have a tendency to look back at the past year and evaluate our lives, whilst looking at expectations we have for the year to come. If you’ve been trying to conceive for a matter of years this can get increasingly difficult to face, as feelings of disappointment and failure creep into your thoughts.
Be selective with the social invitations you accept. A work party is more likely to be a child-free zone than a family do. Make a conscious decision to spend more time with childless friends, and go to places without kids. It’s easier said than done, try to be a bit selfish and make your excuses why you can’t attend. And if that doesn’t work, be honest and explain to people that it’s a difficult time of year.
Avoid Christmas shopping. Do it online this year so you don’t have to face family-centred environments. Besides, who likes the chaos of Christmas shopping anyway?
Make your home a Christmas-free zone if it helps. Christmas heightens feelings of loss and sadness, so protecting yourself from that doesn’t make you Scrooge – just practical.
You can still enjoy the spirit of the holidays by doing something romantic. Get wrapped up and go outdoor ice-skating. Doing it later in the evening will mean you’re more likely to avoid the families. And don’t forget the mulled wine!
Do something charitable like volunteering at a soup kitchen. It’s something you can do together that is in the spirit of Christmas.
Remember that soon the New Year will be here and people will be concerned about their detoxes, nicotine patches and all manner of other New Year resolutions, and you’ll be able to relax in mundane normality.
Warm wishes from everyone at the Fertility Group
Coping with Christmas, Fertility Network
Coping with the Holidays, RESOLVE
Managing your mental health at Christmas
Beyond the Physical: Mental Health on Your Fertility Journey