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Dec 12, 2023

Coping with infertility in the festive period

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If you’re feeling the festive blues, you’re not alone. It can be an emotional time when you’re going through fertility challenges. Here, we share our advice and coping strategies to help you get through the holiday season.




Understanding your emotions


Whether it’s your first year trying to conceive, or one of many, festive cheer might not come as easy as it used to. This time of year throws up a lot of challenges – facing questions about having children, dealing with baby announcements, and the heartache of seeing others with their families.


You might be feeling:


  • Sadness, depression, or grief

  • Bitter or angry

  • Invisible, left out, or lonely

  • Guilty for feeling this way


If you can relate, just know that your feelings are normal. Give yourself permission to feel it all. You’re going through a lot.




Set aside the expectations


Just as the year has its seasons, so does life. The traditions and feelings that you usually have during the holidays might not work for you this time around.


So whether it’s your family's expectations or your own, be mindful that this year's festivities may look a little different for you while you’re going through this journey.


Make allowances for yourself – whether that means being realistic and open about how you feel, choosing to spend your holidays differently, or just taking things at a slower pace.

Plan for tricky conversations

At this time of year, families and children become a natural part of the small talk at parties and celebrations. This can mean navigating unwanted questions from colleagues, family, or friends.


“Do you have children?”, or even worse, “Any special news for us this year?” can be the last thing you want to answer when you’re trying to conceive.


Preparing for these conversations can make them easier to handle.


Here are some ideas for side-stepping any unwanted questions:


  • Create a gentle distraction – “I was just about to cut a slice of cake, can I get you some?”, or “I’ve just spotted so-and-so, excuse me while I say hello quickly!”

  • Politely point out that it’s a private question before changing the subject

  • If you’re comfortable, let friends and family know in advance that you’re trying to conceive and it’s been difficult, but you’re not ready to talk about it

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Say “No” to things that might upset you


All the parties, dinners, and celebrations can get overwhelming. There’s a lot of pressure to be jolly and grateful, not to mention that you might be surrounded by children and conversations about families.


You don’t have to go to everything – or anything. It’s okay to simply tell people you’ve got other plans.


Whether it’s a specific situation you want to avoid or that you’d just rather be on the sofa, there’s nothing ‘bah humbug’ about prioritising your mental well-being during this time.




Say “Yes" to things that bring you joy


That being said, make time for plans that could lift your mood. It can still be a cosy time of year, even if it’s not quite the celebration that you’ve been dreaming of.


You deserve some well-earned time off, and if you’ve been going through fertility treatment then you’ve had even more stress on your plate this year.


Rewarding yourself could be as simple as taking the time to recharge your batteries or going as far as achieving something you’ve been putting off.




Don’t miss out on all the treats


When you’re trying to conceive, it’s natural to be extra focused on your health. But you deserve to enjoy yourself and relax a bit during the celebrations - just like everyone else.


A hearty family dinner or some sweet treats won’t ruin your efforts, but they might help you unwind and feel a sense of normality.


But if breaking your routine is a worrying thought, then there are plenty of healthy ways to enjoy the holidays too. Get your hat and mittens on for a winter walk, load your plate with veggies, or opt for alcohol-free – just do what feels right for you.  




Consider a social media break


Being online can be especially triggering during the holiday season. Your timeline is flooded with people’s seemingly ‘perfect’ family celebrations, often focusing on children and babies. It can feel like a constant reminder of what’s missing.


Now could be a good time to log off and give yourself a break from comparisons. And remember, social media is only the highlights reel. It might all seem like smiles and laughter, but that’s rarely the full story.

Balance self-care with connection

Emotional resilience is a skill that helps us navigate challenging times in life. It comes from a balance of looking after yourself and reaching out to your support network.


Schedule some ‘you’ time, but don’t forget to seek comfort in supportive friends or family who understand what you're going through. Although you might feel like being alone, a chat with a friend or a hug with a loved one can go a long way.


It can be especially helpful to connect with other people in your situation. Support groups, forums, or even Facebook groups can provide a place to vent and share tips and advice.

Portrait of three attractive mid-adult woman outside.

Reach out for support


If it all gets too much, there is more support and advice out there.


Take a look at:


  • The Daisy Network

  • Fertility Network UK


And if you’re having treatment with TFP Fertility, don’t forget that we have specialist fertility counsellors. Please reach out to us if you need to talk.




Finally…


If the holiday season feels heavy, know that it's alright not to force a smile. This is your journey and it’s okay to take the time you need. From everyone at TFP Fertility, we hope this season brings you moments of peace and resilience, knowing that brighter days are ahead.


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