For most people Christmas is a happy time for families to get together and have some fun, but when you’ve been trying to have a baby for a long time it can be a difficult and depressing experience.
All sorts of things can trigger a range of painful feelings. Ads on TV and social media start early, extolling the virtues of Christmas as a wonderful time for children and families.
The conversations with family members about plans for meeting up start weeks, even months in advance, and can send chills into your heart if you know there’s a new baby or pregnancy in the family. Friends and colleagues soon start discussing their children’s nativity plays and what they’re going to buy them for Christmas. All of these can be painful reminders as you worry about how you’re going to manage this challenging time ahead.
You need to take care of yourself and work out what’s going to be the best way for you to cope. Think about it in advance and talk through your fears and concerns with your partner, close friends or family. Plan how you might best manage Christmas and be realistic about what you can and can’t do. Don’t feel guilty if you just can’t cope with putting yourself in a potentially triggering situation.
Our reporter Emma Kemsley has written a heart warming blog for us about how she copes at Christmas. Take a look at her comments about it all. She has some great life hacks.
Here are a few other helpful suggestions to think about
Minimise the length of time you stay. If your family knows you’ve been struggling to have a baby, you could explain to them that you might be understandably sensitive and that you may not stay as long as you normally would. Perhaps stay in a local hotel.
If you are visiting family for more than a day, rather than staying with your relatives, you might think about booking a local hotel, so you and your partner are not under the same roof as the rest of the family for the whole time. It will give you a reason to leave and the chance to get away and have some time for yourselves.
Coping with insensitive questions
Whilst you are with your family or friends, there may be a few insensitive questions about your plans to have children. These may be innocent, but they can hurt or, at the very least make you feel uncomfortable.
Remember, when asked “When are you going to have kids?”, the trick is to keep your answer short and then confidently and quickly, change the subject to divert the attention away from you and onto the enquirer. You could think about having a few stock answers like: –
“Oh one of these days. Let’s hope it happens”. OR
“Let’s not talk about that now – tell me, how have you been doing?”
It will need a bit of creativity as the response to each individual will vary, but the main thing is to get the focus onto them as soon as you can. People normally love talking about themselves.
Accept that others may not realise just how painful this time is for you
Some people around you (particularly family and friends with children) may find it hard to understand just how difficult Christmas can be for those struggling to have a baby.
Rather than fight against this and build up resentment towards those who lack the empathy you’d like, it can sometimes help simply to accept what is. Accept that those closest to you don’t mean to be insensitive or un-empathic, it’s just that they genuinely don’t get how hard it is for you. Although it’s upsetting, if you can, try to let your reaction to any judgments, comments and lack of understanding pass as quickly as you can, rather than harbouring feelings of hurt and anger.
And most importantly don’t be afraid to end any conversations that make you feel uncomfortable. If members of your family or in-laws know about your struggles to conceive, you may find yourself on the receiving end of some unwelcome and unwanted advice.
We’ve all heard comments from relatives mentioning your age and saying things like: “You shouldn’t wait any longer to have kids as you’re getting on a bit”. Or a well-meaning auntie explaining that you need a holiday and should take time to relax more.
If such conversations begin, you might quickly say: “I’m so sorry, I’m desperate for the loo. Can you excuse me for a minute?” and beat a hasty retreat. It’s amazing how much time you can spend in a toilet touching up your make up and texting friends.
The main thing is, this is not the time to fall out with your family and friends because of any thoughtlessness or ignorance on their part. Although it hurts and makes you mad, try to believe they mean well and genuinely want to be helpful.
If all else fails just tell your parents that you’re not visiting
If all else fails be brave enough to tell your parents that you can’t visit for Christmas day itself but will see them before or afterwards. It might come as a shock and be unwelcome news to them, but you could reassure them it’s just this once and that you’ll be sure to see them as normal next year.
Hopefully, if they’re aware of your struggle to conceive, they and other members of your family will be sensitive and understand how hard it is for you to witness everyone else’s delight and pleasure at this special time of year.
Remember it’s not selfish to put your own needs first
This may not come naturally to you, but if you wait for everyone to understand why you are so reluctant to share in this family time in the way they anticipate, you could wait a long while. You need to learn to take care of yourself and say no to any emotional pleas. Some members of your family may be upset if you don’t conform to their expectations of you over this festive time, but they will get over it.
For more tips on surviving Christmas we recommend the mental health charity Mind.