How to manage Christmas when you’re TTC
Christmas really can be a difficult time of year.
It’s not “merry” for everyone.
And if you’re trying to conceive (TTC) the difficulty is coming to terms with what you had imagined for this year not becoming reality.
For you, Christmas is another “time-stamper” that marks how long you’ve been travelling this journey.
Perhaps you thought you would be at journeys end by now.
Perhaps you hoped for a ‘little bundle of joy’ to enjoy the festivities with this Christmas.
Christmas, like birthdays, is a reminder of what’s not happening.
And then, it inevitably leads to the what if? What if next Christmas is the year, I have a baby?
This year hasn’t even gone and you’re already pinning your hopes and dreams on next year.
This year written off before it’s even over.
Not a cracker pulled, or a bad joke told – but next year already holds for you the promise of the perfect present.
Who knows – it may just be so? But what you’re doing is deflecting from the pain you quite rightly feel now – your feelings are valid; your pain and disappointment are real even at this most “festive” time of year.
You may not feel festive and this isn’t a fake it until you make it kinda pep talk; when I say your feelings are valid – I just mean it’s okay to feel these things; it’s okay to not feel as jolly as holly! It’s okay to not join in with the festivities if you don’t feel like it.
Oh, and then there is dealing with the intrusive commentary on your reproductive system:
- The brashey thoughtless comments.
- The inevitable “when’s the baby coming” comments.
- The “poor you… it will happen soon” dripping with sympathy and pity comments; the unrealistic optimism doesn’t help either.
- The trying to be empathetic but I just don’t have a clue comments.
I could go on…
How to deal?
First – deep breaths! Always remember to breathe and ground yourself – it calms the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the fight or flight response. Breathing helps to calm the system so you can respond in the present moment with all your adult capabilities.
But if you want to handle Christmas and any large family gathering for that matter, differently then it starts with preparing yourself:
- You know your family – who will trigger you?
- How do you want to respond to comments? Plan for what you want to say, so you don’t get caught off guard.
- Be reflective – is it what’s said or how it’s said? Why does it trigger you?
- The more you can start to tune in to why you react and feel the way you do, the more choice you have over how you react and feel.
Always honour your feelings. Feelings are boundaries, they are information that tell us when someone has hurt us in some way:
- When you can identify what hurt – communicate it.
- Often, we don’t communicate our feelings well because we don’t feel empowered to do so. Families will always choose to ignore feelings, so it may mean change starts with you.
- This isn’t about blame or shame – it’s about simply saying, “you know, when you said X, I felt X”, it’s owning your feelings.
- (Please note: you are not responsible for how another person feels about what you say, if you are adult enough to own your feelings, expect that they are adult enough to own theirs.)
Be present – be in the here-and-now always and especially when it’s a particularly stressful time of year:
- Find the joy in this Christmas – even if it’s something little.
- Communicate that – whether it’s you’re grateful for the food or the company, say it and feel good about it.
Take some much-needed time-out, Christmas can be exhausting:
- Take a long walk or bath
- Journal – think about your TTC journey, your experiences and what you want or don’t want for 2020 and beyond.
Self-care at Christmas may mean saying NO! No to the gatherings, the festivities, the mirth and cheer. If it won’t be good for your mental and emotional health, don’t do it.
Empower yourself to do what feels good for YOU.
If you need support, I provide infertility counselling and women’s health counselling in Gravesend, Kent, face-to-face or online.