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Handling Infertility At Christmas And Other Family Days

Infertility and the overwhelming desire to have a baby can be an extremely isolating experience. Many people trying to have a baby do not discuss this with others and this is often more so when trying for a baby for an extended period of time. This journey can be made more difficult because many people find talking about infertility very difficult – mainly because people don’t know what to say when in fact they don’t have to say anything, but just rather listen. As a society, we have difficulty in dealing with these sad experiences.

Most couples take for granted their ability to have a child. Some may choose not to become parents, but most of those who do try to have a child usually have no difficulty in achieving that goal. However, for the 1 in 6 couples worldwide who would like to have a child but are unable to do so, it can be a very painful experience and one difficult to manage. For those who remain childless, infertility can become like a lifelong disability with ongoing emotional consequences.

For couples who are trying for a baby, Christmas, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be very painful reminders of the fertility and success of other people – and the fact that they have not yet achieved this success.

Christmas is a time for celebration of a special birth in history. It is a time for families – a time for children. The Christmas holiday season can be a stressful time for many reasons. For people experiencing fertility issues, this time can be a painful reminder of a longed-for child. Some thoughtful planning can help to reduce sadness and increase your chances of having an enjoyable Christmas time.

It’s not uncommon for couples or individuals experiencing fertility issues to not participate in family gatherings, so to assist you cope with such situations, please read on.

Make A Conscious Decision To:
  • Have a polite response planned for when friends and family ask you about when you plan to have children. Generally people are not being unkind or thoughtless they are often asking because they can’t think of anything else to say. We are all guilty of this if we are really honest with ourselves. Think through how you would deal with such a situation and plan your response so that you are prepared with a polite but firm reply.
  • You don’t need to give details. Consider a short, simply response like “We don’t have children.” This is all you need to say, you don’t need to elaborate or justify your position.
  • If you are not able to participate in a planned family gathering, arrange to see your parents or other family members a week or two before the event, so they know you care about them. Tell them that this is a painful time for you and at the moment attending family functions is difficult. This will help them understand how you are feeling and leave you free to spend the day in a way that suits you.
  • Try to find other people who are childfree that would like to spend special days such as Christmas together. This way, you may actually have a day whereby your thoughts wondering to not having a baby may be minimised.
  • If you are struggling with your current situation and seeing pregnant women or people with babies are just a constant reminder of your struggle, be selective about the invitations you accept – in particular think about those gatherings where there will be lots of children or pregnant women. Remember, that you don’t have to accept every invitation and a polite, “I am not able to attend,” is all that is needed. You don’t need to justify why you are not attending unless you feel you can share your feelings.
  • Treat yourself by doing some things you really enjoy, such as bush walking, going to the theatre, planning a special holiday or just immersing yourself in a good book. Also spend time with your partner – just you and them and be thankful for your relationship. Sometimes we can become so engrossed in our desire to have a family that we forget the other person in the relationship. It’s okay to do something special for yourself and together – it doesn’t have to cost a thing – even a romantic walk in the woods or along the beach can do wonders for a relationship, as it allows us to freely communicate and share our emotions with the ones we love and feel safe with.
  • Tell your family and friends that you appreciate their love and support (if they are aware of your journey). Keep in regular contact with them.
  • Think of a way to create your own tradition to celebrate special occasions. For example, on Mother’s or Father’s Day make plans to go to a secluded location with a bottle of wine and a hamper of food that you consider very indulgent and spend time telling yourself and your partner that this is also your special day. You do not have to have children to celebrate this event; even just the desire to be a mum or dad entitles you to share in this day. Perhaps give your partner a special gift on this day as a way of thanking them for supporting you during this journey and a way of acknowledging their ongoing commitment to becoming a parent and everything that entails for them.
Make A Conscious Decision Not To:
  • Feel guilty about not participating in all the traditional family celebrations. This is not a time to blame yourself for what is happening irrespective of the reason for you having difficulty becoming pregnant. Instead, use your energies to plan special events that don’t remind you that you are yet to achieve your dream of becoming parents. You also need to concentrate on being there for each other and if you are blaming yourself or your partner, then this only leads down a destructive path.
  • Picture in your mind that there’s nothing wrong and carry on with ‘business as usual’. Constantly remind yourself of this. Having a positive approach can make an immense difference in how you feel about yourself and your relationship and life in general. Taking the focus away from the struggle at hand can be a positive thing. Try it – you may be pleasantly surprised.
  • React without thought to a question about having a baby from a friend or family member. Just take a deep breath and think of the response you have planned and deliver this in a controlled, polite way.
  • Isolate yourself from those who love and care about you. Sometimes they are struggling seeing you in pain, too. Surround yourself with people who are positive and are able to lift you up when you are feeling down.

We all plan for many things in our lives so planning how to cope with being childfree is no different – it just may take a little adjusting to!

You may also enjoy reading Helping Others Understand Your Fertility: A Guide For Family and Friends