By Kate Brian, journalist, writer and author of four books on motherhood and fertility
Christmas can feel like the most difficult time of year for anyone with a fertility problem. Of course, the festival itself celebrates a very special birth, and although that is sometimes overshadowed by commercialisation, Christmas is still very focused on families. You may feel that bombarded with images of happy parents and their smiling children, and everywhere you turn it seems that there are reminders of what you don’t have.
Avoiding things you find difficult
If you are finding the run up to Christmas really difficult, there are things you can do to make it a little easier. Many people find the shopping streets hard to handle at Christmas, with windows full of nativity scenes and pavements crowded with people. It can make you feel terribly sad, and of course you can’t just avoid going out altogether at this time of year. However, what you can do is avoid doing your own Christmas shopping on the streets. It has never been easier to buy online, and you can save yourself a lot of time as well as heartache if you find the shops difficult.
You can say no
It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to do things that you know in advance are going to be really tough for you. There’s often a sense of guilt about even considering not being with your family for annual events during the festive season; you may always get together for a Christmas church service, a special meal together or a family drinks party. These events that you share can be a lovely part of the tradition of Christmas, but they can also be difficult if you know that it will be a very family-focused occasion with all the attention on the youngest family members. The same goes for social events with friends which you know may be equally child-centred.
If you are dreading a particular occasion, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with deciding that this year, for once, you won’t be there. It may be easier if you explain why to one particularly sympathetic family member, but you don’t need their blessing in order to make your decision. At times like this, when things can be tough, you have to think about your own needs and self-protection first.
A different sort of Christmas
There is no reason that you shouldn’t opt to celebrate Christmas in your own unique way, rather than following the traditional pattern which often involves being with an extended family with lots of children around. If you’ve got the time and the inclination, you might want to investigate last-minute Christmas holiday packages, and choose to spend the festive season wherever availability and your budget will take you. You don’t need to travel overseas to have a different type of Christmas though – you might opt to rent a holiday cottage somewhere a little closer to home, or book yourselves into a hotel.
If you don’t want to go away, you can still make the day different. You could choose to have your special Christmas meal at a favourite restaurant, you could take yourselves off for a long walk on Christmas Day, or you could spend the day wrapped up on the sofa watching films. Whatever you choose to do is up to you, but just make sure it’s something you know that you will enjoy.
At the end of the day, it’s your Christmas too – and although family and friends may have set traditions that they’d like you to join in with, it’s really entirely up to you whether you choose to do so or prefer to invent your own very special Christmas celebration.
Writer and journalist
Kate Brian is a journalist, writer and author of four books on motherhood and fertility, including The Complete Guide to IVF. Kate started writing about the patient perspective on infertility after having IVF herself.
Currently, she contributes to various types of media as an expert on fertility and writes her own blog, where she gives all the latest news and views on fertility issues, as well as useful advice and links for anyone trying to have a baby.