For those of us struggling with infertility Christmas can be a really challenging time of year. It can compound our thoughts and feelings and highlight our own loss and grief in a way that is not so strongly felt at other times of year. Why? Well because so much of what we see on TV, see from others and the whole magic of the portrayal of Christmas in our society, is centred around children.

But if I may be so bold, Christmas is about so much more than that and I want in on some of that magic too.

I want to share my thoughts on what I have learnt over time that has made me continue to feel positive about this time of the year when it can otherwise feel too much for so many of us. It doesn’t have to be this lingering feeling of sorrow, it is all about living in the present, regardless of what is going on around us.

Don’t get me wrong, feeling bombarded with anything children related at any time when you can’t have children yourself is never easy. This could be anything from a pregnancy announcement to those doorstep back to school photos and everything in between but at Christmas that is often heightened to some concentrated level of intensity that acts like ticking time bomb ready to explode if nudged in just the right direction. It can be very overwhelming and can make anyone struggling with any fertility issues, feel grief stricken and isolated, more so than at any other time of year. Add a pandemic and quarantine/lockdown on top of that and if you aren’t careful it can really send you into a spiral.

I don’t know if it makes it easy or harder, and comparisons are impossible to draw as we are all different, but I have known I can’t naturally carry my own child for nearly 20 years.  I have longed for it, grieved for it and been at peace with it over this time but Christmas has always been more to me than a feeling of loss, longing or feeling misunderstood.  It’s been a time for family and those nearest and dearest and at times a relief to get to. It didn’t change how I felt at other times of the year but I was genuinely happy to get to the end of the year.

Christmas for me is a time to come together.  Whether you are a conventional family or not, or whatever family means to you, being with people I care about or want to be with is always my priority.  Quite honestly life is too short not to think about what you want in all of this.  Sure, there is often a compromise at this time of year but compromise works both ways too, it doesn’t mean you giving up something that you want, it’s finding a balance.

I am a firm believer in Christmas and everything that comes with it.  Likely because my inner child gets pretty vocal at this time of year with an elf like happiness eruption of enjoyment and joyful emotion but also because I truly value the time I get to spend with the people I love, regardless.

This season to me is magical, the darkness and dreariness brightened by the Christmas lights and the careful nods of hello and Merry Christmas from colleagues, neighbours and friends alike.

Christmas is preparation that takes weeks to plan and is over in a flash.  It’s the crispness in the air and the stomp across the fields or that special place you just love to go to reflect and think.  It’s the (currently virtual) carol services, mass and religious meaning, the food, the drink and relaxing.  It is really so many things that I hold dear.

That includes shopping.  I love to shop and I often do not need much excuse to do so, although his year…hello online shopping!  A good proportion of my Christmas list, in fact I think it is over half, of which are under the age of 12.

Has that always been easy?…urm no

Would I change having those children in my life for the world, regardless of my own situation?…not in a million years

I didn’t know until more recently that I would feel ok with the realization that I wouldn’t have children, yet here I am.  Christmas doesn’t have to be a sad time and something that, for those of us struggling with infertility, we end up dreading, even if we are still longing and struggling with that journey.  My role as a cool ‘aunt’ like figure has never felt as important as it does at Christmas and never ceases to tug on my heart strings with warmth and love more so than sadness and grief.

Now this year is different.  Our plans are likely not quite what we hoped or planned yet we can still make the best of it.  Anyone heard of Zoom? 😉

Next year is another challenge but right now as shops and business start to close for Christmas (or maybe lockdown…) I like to think about what I have achieved this year.

What have you achieved?  Write them down, I dare you.

I don’t just mean those massive milestones, I mean small steps that have made a big difference. At the very least getting through this crazy year in itself should be on that list. I am certain when we all sit there and really think about it we have definitely achieved more than we think. That is what we should celebrate. Being proud of what I have done this year, the small things and the big things, and more importantly what my family and friends have achieved is important to me.

I am more than what my infertility means despite how present it can feel at this time of year. But over time I have found that letting it bother me more just because it is Christmas wasn’t going to help. It doesn’t matter what led up to this point or what I plan to do moving forward. Right now I can just be me.

We can all be more than those diagnoses and use that as a way to turn the negative into a positive and allow ourselves not to let the lingering ghosts in the shadows take their toll on us. The past is gone, the future can change. What is important is now.

For those longing, wishing and hoping. Don’t give up hope but also give yourself a chance to enjoy the now. Maybe enjoyment feels tough after a hard year but enjoy the time you have with that special person, family, friends, pets or whatever it is that works for you.

The end of the year marks an invisible line to draw in the sand that we then start again on the other side in January.  It is a perfect time to give ourselves a break and prepare for the road ahead.

Virtual hugs to you all and Merry Christmas