Thriving at Christmas
This year we are having Christmas and New Year in Brisbane with my family and it has been about 15 years since my brother and I spent Christmas Day together, as he lives in England and I am in Sydney. So, it will be a special day to annoy each other as only siblings can do, a time to be together, connect, laugh and have great conversations.
Whilst Christmas and New Year Holidays for some people is just the few public holidays that are allocated at this time of year, for many others there are company closures and encouraged leave which can make this time of year particularly hard.
Typically, this is a time for family gatherings, meals and connection, often these times are with extended family/friends and loads of children, which can be quite difficult for those ttc.
So, what can you do to make things much easier for you and your partner?
Say ‘No’ if things are too hard atm – If you have recently had a failed cycle, miscarriage or are simply in that 2-week wait, feel free to say ‘No’ to an invitation which you know is going to cause you significant distress or discomfort. There is always time to pop in and see parents/siblings before the maddening crowds and throngs of children arrive, which may cause pangs of disappointment, resentment, hurt, jealousy, longing, anger, fear, guilt, sadness to name just a few of the emotions that may come up for both you and your partner.
How you and your partner feel is paramount, your relatives will get over the fact that you weren’t at the family event and will be even more empathetic if they know what is going on for you currently, leave this to another family member to explain though.
Your focus should be on your own mental health and the less stress in your life the better, so do what brings you peace and be completely ok with that decision.
Organise breakfast/brunch/lunch or dinner out at a restaurant – One of the best reasons for doing this is because you have a very finite time to be with family/friends. The time frame can be just 1.5-2 hours and then you leave the venue and go separate ways. At a restaurant any children present will be sitting at the table, or sometimes a separate table, again it is another consideration for spending time with loved ones, in your own comfort zone.
This is the perfect solution for those relatives or friends who are a little more taxing/probing/nosey and quite frankly leaves you in absolute control of your environment. You can arrange for any courses of food to be brought out promptly and cut and leave early when you feel the need for space and time away.
Bookings are essential at this busy time, so get dialling for the next couple of catch ups and reclaim your time for you, whilst still ticking all the relevant boxes with significant others.
Confide in at least one relative – I am an advocate of getting as much support as possible, the more people you tell, the more you will be able to have someone to confide in throughout your treatment during all the various stages.
The wider the circle of support, the more you will receive, it is that simple.
Confiding in at least one relative or your parents, will enable them to deflect questions for you, speak to family members before you get put on the spot with some difficult and completely inappropriate questions.
If you do not have family that you are close to or friends who understand your situation, look online for support groups, there are so many to choose from, all with people exactly like you, who are facing the same struggles, emotions and they can provide you with kind words, listen to your concerns and offer hope and encouragement.
It is inevitable though, that you will receive the usual barrage of inquiries from the relatives and friends during the ‘holiday season’, so having some prepared answers here is a good way to handle these situations.
Let me give you some examples my clients have used –
We have a whole team of experts working on this atm!
It is a project of ours currently, we will let you know when we have news to share.
I am currently having fertility treatment, so it is a hard topic to discuss, thanks for understanding.
Concentrating on our careers and travel is the focus for now, babies are not on our radar.
Why have children when we can borrow others and give them back!
We hope to have some in the future.
They are in the 2-year plan, will get back to you on that one!
TTC for x years now, we are working on it and getting expert advice.
Depending on the person, how close you are to them or how much you want to share, you can fob them off with one of the above lines, or take this opportunity to open up and share your emotions, how you feel is relevant and this is different for everyone.
Often times, we can have the deepest of conversations with complete strangers, this is because there are no expectations, no boundaries and no fear of judgement with someone who you barely know or rarely see.
I find that when I talk with clients, they admit that they have told me things they have never mentioned to another soul. It is not only due to the fact that I have created a safe space to open up the dialogue, it is because of the questions that I do not ask, ones that get to the root cause of those emotions.
This happened to me at a wedding recently, I spoke with a woman who had been ttc for many years, she never had children and was still carrying considerable pain around this fact. Although I should mention that I never asked her about whether or not she had children, I did not ask about her family, only who she knew at the wedding and the rest of my questions were designed just to get to know her a little better. After talking for about an hour, she said OMG, I have never told anyone as much as I have told you. I just love you she said, although, she had been drinking alcohol for some hours by that time and I was sober.
Plan time for just you – It is important to do things just for yourself, this may be as simple as going for a walk along the beach, a yoga class, pedicure, walking the dog, buying yourself something, going to an art gallery, going to movies, online course, meditating, bush walking, gardening, basketball, going to see a play, read a good book, have breakfast in bed, booking your next seminar or training event. Whatever it is that you love to do, but spend little time doing, most often the excuse that you do not do these things is because you are time poor or simply not focusing on self-love activities. Now is the time to do what you love.
Important to mention here is that not all of these things cost money, typically at this time of year, many people have over spent on gifts for family members and friends. So, expense is not necessary for you practise a little self-love.
Connect with your partner – So often the process of ttc, makes your time with your partner seem as though you are on a roster. Sex becomes a routine and scheduled activity and the pain of not being able to conceive naturally can impact your sex drive and the spontaneity.
When I watched the 2018 Netflix movie – Private Life – this year, I was happy to see the emotional side of fertility treatment portrayed and how it impacts every facet of this particular couple’s lives. Bringing the emotional side of treatment to the screen and giving everyone a real insight into this rarely discussed factor was encouraging, especially when this is encountered long after the treatment has stopped.
Date nights are a great way to connect and do not have to be expensive, it can be a coffee/tea/hot chocolate or dessert kind of evening. Or even a daytime picnic by the beach or in the local park can be a cost-effective way to connect and rekindle the intimacy in your relationship.
Taking time to nurture your relationship will be the best way to ensure that you are both connected, committed and have open communication.
Everyone will have their own unique way of dealing with ttc, so it is good to keep communication lines open and create the optimum environments for these conversations to flow naturally.
If you are single and ttc, it is a great idea to have regular massages, not only is this perfect for relaxation (make sure you tell your masseuse about ttc) but the physical touch that you experience is mandatory for meeting this basic human need.
Hugging and kissing is well known and researched in terms of producing endorphins, those feel good hormones. And we know from the research with premature babies, that those that are not regularly touched and held, will display symptoms of ‘failure to thrive’. So, no excuses here, grab people and have a good long hug.
Plan your next holiday – One of my favourite things to do is plan my next trip away, this can be as inexpensive as a weekend away at an Airbnb, a holiday island getaway or a MUCH bigger trip. Just the weekends away are a fabulous way to reset and give you a sense of rejuvenation. Like the saying goes, a change is as good as a holiday! An overnight stay an hour from home in a different town, will give a chance to take a well-earned break even if you are working through this holiday season.
Work on your passion – If you have spare time of the holidays to work on something you love this is the perfect time to invest in your passion. Working on something that is important to you, a pet project, volunteering, building something, creating something, is a productive use of time and gives you something else to focus on during the holiday season. We are passionate jigsaw artists, the dining room table is converted into a makeshift work bench and the whole family gathers around, under spotlights at night, to piece together our 1000 piece plus masterpiece.
I hope that this holiday season is one where you and your partner will thrive, spend time with people that you choose, for the time you want and do things that are special for you.
If you would like to talk with me these holidays please book a time for your free Clarity Call.
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