Coping with end of year festivities and celebrations

As the decorations are hung and invitations arrive to end of year festivities and celebrations, for some patients struggling to conceive, this time of year can be met with mixed emotions. There may be some aspects of this time of year you are looking forward to, perhaps a break from work, some time to socialise and celebrate. However, it is not uncommon for people trying to conceive to find these end of year celebrations difficult to navigate.

Christmas particularly is often a time focused on family and children and this alone can intensify feelings of sadness. It is not uncommon for people struggling with infertility to see the end of year as a significant marking point of another year where they have not been able to conceive.

At celebration events, you may see friends and family that you have not seen for some time. Sometimes questions about what has happened for you this year or more directed questions about starting a family can leave patients feeling vulnerable and unable to know how to answer.

Some tips for managing the festive season:

  1. It can be useful to plan for this period, ensuring that you have down time. Keep up your self-care regime as much as possible, eating well, getting exercise and doing what you know is nurturing for you.
  2. Review your invitations and whether you need/want to say yes to all of the events that you have been invited to. Where possible, choose the events that you will feel most comfortable and supported at. Some social events can be fabulous for a good diversion and way of reconnecting with others. Other events may feel overwhelming.
  3. For events that you are most anxious about, create a plan for yourself. For example, can you attend for a shorter time, can you take a break and have someone ready to confide in if someone does ask you that uncomfortable question. Have a good friend/partner/family member on standby!
  4. Plan some standard lines ready to say to people if they do ask questions about starting/growing your family. They might be sentences like:
  5. I/We are just waiting to see what happens.
  6.  I/We have opted to keep things on the low down at the moment.
  7.  It is tough for us/me at the moment.

Then then feel able change the subject!

  • If you start to feel sad or overwhelmed at social functions, use some self- talk to get you through. Things like ‘It will be over soon, and I will leave and have a rest’ or ‘It is ok that I feel like this, I am going to have a good chat to someone when I get home’.
  • Connecting with others is still important. It might be that you consider alternative ways to catch up with friends and family rather than attending big events.
  • Some people opt out of local Christmas celebrations and plan a break away at this time of year.
  • With the focus on family and children, for some patients it can feel as if they don’t ‘fit’ into the celebrations. Create your own celebration on your terms and invite your good supportive friends or family members. This might be something small like a one on one meet up with a friend, or something bigger like an end of year picnic. Feel able to celebrate what you have achieved this year, from a decision to undergo treatment, to small progresses in all aspects of your life, acknowledging the tough aspects of your year and how you have navigated them.
  • As the clinic winds down through the festive season and you might have a break from cycles, it can be a good opportunity to engage with other parts of your life that you have not had time for. This time may also allow you a break from stringent lifestyle regimes you may have placed on yourself in treatment. Can you enjoy some of the luxury foods you have been avoiding during treatment? A good break over this period may allow your mind and body some well earned rest, ready to start fresh in 2024.
  • If you are struggling and feeling overwhelmed, book a supportive counselling session with the Number 1 counselling team or your own private counsellor.

Felicity Matson, Counsellor, Number 1 Fertility.

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