Awkward Questions And Navigating The Christmas Holidays During Fertility Treatment
As life gradually begins to get back to normal, after a very strange twenty months or so, your attention may be turning to Christmas and planning time with extended family or friends.
For some there can be a focus on celebrating what will hopefully be the last Christmas without your family feeling complete. For many, the thought of another Christmas without a ‘longed for’ child or ‘the family we’d always imagined’ can be triggering and feel too much to bear.
Know that wherever you are in your journey, there are people who understand and you’re not on your own.
If you’ve agreed to attend the family festivities, you may already be dreading the ‘So, what’s happening with the baby situation?’ question. If you’ve been open about your journey, your stomach may already be churning at the thought of family members looking at you with pity – as you respond with ‘we’re still waiting.’
So how do you begin to answer?
More often than not we simply smile and put on our ‘brave face’ – pretending that it’s ok. It can sometimes feel like living two lives. One is where you pretend that everything is alright, and the other is where your heart silently aches.
It’s important to acknowledge both of those lives – neither is wrong. We need to put our brave face on, but we also need to acknowledge the ache too.
How can you prepare and respond?
Before you head out for Christmas lunch or your relatives descend on you, take a little time to think about how you’d like to respond to any potentially difficult questions during the day:
- It’s useful to have some responses to these sorts of questions already thought out and prepared – particularly if you have a difficult or nosey family member. Pre-empting these questions is a useful way of protecting yourself and emotions. Honesty can be useful so you’re not holding things back; plus those close to you can often pick up when you’re not being open. Ideas that might help with what you want to say:
- ‘It’s difficult waiting, but we’re coping ‘
- ‘We’re feeling really positive at the moment. The uncertainty can be difficult, but today we’re going to focus on the positives.’
- ‘I am doing really well right now, thanks for asking, when there’s news, I will let everyone know.’
- Set yourself healthy, personal boundaries for the day – decide what you’re happy to talk about, and what’s non-negotiable.
- Talk about your feelings, anxieties and fears for the day – if possible be honest with your partner about how you’re feeling about the festive period and agree on a sign when you both feel ready to leave or need to take some time out.
- Do whatever feels right. If you’re really not feeling up to it – don’t put yourself in a potentially vulnerable position. If you really don’t want to go – make your excuses and don’t go!
- Practice self-care. Indulging yourself and having an ‘adults only’ Christmas is absolutely fine. Whilst it may not be the Christmas you had always imagined – it can be a beautiful opportunity to create your own traditions or simply do something completely different.
There is no getting away from it – family, children and parenthood are all around us and everything can feel heightened around this time of year. And whilst it can feel extra intense at this time of year, it is possible to find joy by practicing gratitude for the things and opportunities we have in our lives. It may not be how we imagined ‘just yet’ so please be extra gentle with yourself.
Frustratingly, if you’re in a relationship you and your partner may have different ways of coping and in managing the routine highs and lows of Surrogacy; one of you may find it easier to put on a brave face and throw yourself in to celebrating, whilst the other wishes to run to the hills. Making sure you have time in together where you can be real with yourself and each other can help to recharge your batteries.
Ultimately, it’s about doing whatever feels best for you. In a world full of potential grief triggers every single day, from social media, pictures of Christmas school performances and Christmas adverts, we have to navigate our feelings in order to protect ourselves. It’s not selfish but ‘necessary’ to say no to things that you know you’re going to find tough until you feel strong enough.
However you cope with Christmas, we hope you have magical moments to treasure and we look forward to supporting you in the New Year.