9 tips by Stéphanie Toulemonde, certified life coach, specialized in emotional support for women in assisted reproduction journeys.

When you’re undergoing fertility treatment, the holidays can be particularly difficult emotionally.

First, because now is the time to take stock of the past year. Despite all the positive things you have achieved, what dominates your inner dialogue is this conclusion: another Christmas without a child, or without being pregnant.

During this period, the whole world seems to be telling you, over and over, that you haven’t achieved your dream of becoming a mum yet. The ads on TV, in stores or on the streets all show loving families with smiling and happy children. Family and social gatherings are full of running children, crying babies and round bellies. And finally, there is this endless question that comes up: “what about you, when are you planning on starting a family?”, together with this equally painful affirmative version: “Don’t worry, this year you’ll get pregnant, you just need to get your head off it”

In a nutshell, it is difficult when you want a child to join in the festive, joyful and optimistic atmosphere of Christmas. Here are some tips that I hope will help you cope better with this delicate period:

1- Focus on your close circle

More than ever, you need to be surrounded and supported by people who are close and caring, with whom you feel comfortable. People who know you, and who love you for who you are.

During these holidays, focus on your closest family and friends: those people who mean you well – and who do you good.

2- Spoil yourself

Make way for positive sensations: a massage, a shopping session, an evening with friends, a romantic dinner… Do yourself some good!

Here’s a little exercise: make a list of 25 things that make you smile, or that make you happy. They don’t need to be huge things (it can be a bubble bath, a piece of chocolate, calling a friend, having a walk in nature…). You’ll see that when you get started, it is quite easy to find 25 things.

Then, plan them! Try to organize at least one thing per day (or per week), by blocking  “moments for yourself” in your calendar.

3- Talk to yourself with kindness

Our inner dialogue can be very tough, and we are rarely as hard on others as we are on ourselves. We blame ourselves for not being positive enough, relaxed enough, optimistic enough, happy enough for others. We reproach ourselves of not quitting smoking early enough, of being too old and having waited too long to start this adventure, etc.

Indulge yourself and change your inner dialogue! You have the right to feel bad, to be jealous, and even to hate Christmas. That doesn’t make you a bad person – it just makes you a woman who’s struggling to become a mom. We all do what we can, and that’s enough already!

4- Value your life

The human brain has a natural tendency to give more importance to what is wrong in our life. Force your brain to do the opposite, at least for a moment! Make a list of all that is positive and beautiful in your life. You are more than a mother-to-be, and your life goes far beyond your desire of having a child. Focus on what you have, and not so much on what you don’t have. Train your brain to see the glass half full!

5- Prepare yourself

Think beforehand about all the people you might see during family or social gatherings, and about the questions and comments that might confuse or hurt you. Prepare in advance a “ready-to-use” answer for each situation!

You can also prepare yourself just before a family reunion by making one of the 25 things on your list (see tip # 2) to relax.

6- Protect yourself

If you feel that a party with family or friends is too much for you, ask yourself very sincerely: do I really have to go? If possible, avoid this difficult time.

Protecting yourself also means protecting yourself from “toxic” people and their comments. Sometimes it is necessary to be selfish – and now is the time!

7- Breathe

If you have panic attack or experience intense stress or anxiety during a celebration, isolate yourself for a few minutes (lock yourself in the toilet if necessary!) and do this exercise of relaxation through breathing:

Close your eyes and place your hand on your chest or stomach. Focus your attention on your breathing and observe it for about 30 seconds, without forcing it. Then try to regulate your breathing: inhale for 5 seconds, block your breathing for 5 seconds, then exhale for 5 seconds. You can repeat the process 5 times, little by little your heart rate and stress will decrease.

This exercise can also help you anticipate a delicate moment, and you can do it just before leaving for a party or a family reunion, for example.

8- Find yourself an ally

You have to go to a family meeting, and you’re afraid of facing embarrassing situations, questions or comments? Choose someone whom you trust and who knows about your situation (partner, friend, sister…) and ask the person to stay with you. Establish a code together: at the first sign from you, your ally will help you by changing the conversation or finding an excuse to walk away.

9- Make plans

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