Trying to conceive? How to answer awkward questions at Christmas
Sure it's a pretty wonderful time of year, but weathering the Yuletide season can actually also be a challenge for a lot of people.
Indeed, for couples trying to conceive, the pressure of fielding family questions about pregnancy and children can be particularly difficult, according to natural fertility coach Helena Tubridy.
"At a time when little kids are centre stage in so many families, and the gift of a baby is all that’s longed for, it does magnify the hurt of not being able to get pregnant," Helena explains.
A qualified midwife and gynae nurse, Ms Tubridy is trained in psychotherapy too; she is known by grateful clients as the "pregnancy whisperer".
And for the one-in-six couples in Ireland who face fertility issues when trying to conceive, she has this advice on the potential stress triggers at Christmas...
The much-hyped season of goodwill, peace and relaxation that is the family Christmas can in reality be a stressful time for many people. Meeting-up with family and friends you haven’t seen in a while, there can be inevitable questions about kids, or if you are planning a family.
If you’re married or living together, you feel the need to show up together at events (like the Christmas family lunch). No matter how nice the in-laws are, they’re not your family, so it’s not as relaxed and there’s pressure to play a role.
Even within our own families, returning home makes us to revert to childhood almost. We try to conform to what we feel is expected of us, and old sibling rivalry and favourites can surface.
So, what to do to negotiate the nativity and maintain that chilled and optimistic state-of-mind under pressure?
- Plan exactly how much you divulge, and to whom, about your fertility status. People will notice if you avoid the pâté and stick to fruit juice, so agree what you will both say.
Stick to it
- There’s nothing worse than bitterly regretting a confidence that could just become the family gossip for the season. If you feel the need to share, or think you will feel the pressure to, be reasonably open and tell people that you would like a baby, sometime, and leave it at that.
- Draw strength from people who care for you (ie your partner), and be grateful. Whether festive lunches, leisurely brunches, or frosty country walks, do what makes you feel good and don’t stress it!
- You can’t do everything, so get a plan. His folks in the morning, yours for dinner... and change round next year. If distance is an issue, negotiate an ‘every other year or two’ deal. Or why not gather both of the clans at yours? Just plan what suits you - once everyone knows what to expect, they can all relax.
- You’re not actually joined at the hip, so, if it helps you to relax, then splitting up is an option for part of the holiday; he goes home for a visit, and you chill with your family for a while.
- If you are feeling a bit fragile, just minimise exposure without any guilt-trip. Guest appearances are, by their nature, brief. Visit, enjoy and leave. Cite other engagements (real or otherwise!) Risk of inquisition is reduced, and nobody can say you’ve snubbed them.
The Great Escape
- If the thought of unsolicited fertility advice and over-excited babies is too much to contemplate, simply head away for the duration. Winter sun, a ski holiday or, if funds are tight, house-sitting options abroad or on home-soil are worth considering... enjoy some special 'us time'.
- It’s tough doing IVF over the holidays, so maybe take a break and get started again in the New Year.
Maybe your baby hasn’t arrived this year; but make a conscious decision to enjoy Christmas, take time for yourselves as a couple, kick back, and make your own traditions.
Couples having difficulty trying to conceive can find it a physically, emotionally, and financially demanding process, Ms Tubridy adds.
Creating a fertility mind-set and stressing less is important for both parents - something which the natural fertility expert champions in her coaching methods.
The trained nurse also uses hypnotherapy to promote relaxation and treat anxiety, which she believes is important for those trying to conceive or undergoing medical fertility treatments.
Anyone interested in natural fertility support can contact Helena Tubridy on 087 996 2466 or download a FREE copy of her book, Fertility In Mind.