Helen Nicholson - Social Worker Counsellor

Helen Nicholson – looking after yourself in the Christmas season

2017 is winding down, and we’re ushering in the Christmas season, a time focused on children, families and birth, followed by the New Year, when people review the year gone by and set goals for the future. This season certainly comes with challenges if you are trying to get pregnant and navigate your way through fertility waiting lists and treatment options. It’s important to stay grounded at this time of year, so here are a few thoughts and ideas from Repromed Counsellor Helen Nicholson to consider over the next few months.

First, take some time to sit down and really think about how you want to spend this time of year. Do you feel you can freely choose to spend the time over Christmas pursuing what you want to do or are there things you need to do with others? Are there traditions and obligations to be met? With the uncertainty that fertility struggles bring, it is important to be aware of your needs and boundaries, so this is a good time to revisit your self-care plan. Making time for yourself and keeping space for relaxing activities will help you to cope with and enjoy this time of year in spite of what might be going on for you.

If you have a partner, discuss how you’re feeling about this season, and make decisions mutually about how you will spend your time. Feeling supported will allow you to engage with your commitments while maintaining a sense of togetherness and understanding of each other’s needs. When invitations come in, whether you are single or in a relationship, consider whether you have emotional and physical capacity to attend without getting worn too thin. It’s okay to choose to take care of yourself rather than putting yourself in challenging situations at Christmas, especially if you are struggling with grief or other intense emotions. It’s a good idea to stay flexible, but be sure to keep lines of communication open with those close to you, so you don’t get caught in painful situations.

The New Year is a time when many people are talking about plans, hopes and dreams for the year ahead. While getting pregnant or having children by the end of 2018 may be your primary focus, use these conversations to dream about and plan other things to look forward to this year. Investing in other areas of your life will bring a sense of balance in the journey, and give you more energy to embrace whatever happens with your fertility.

Fertility issues are personal; not everyone feels the same way about their journey and there is no “one size fits all” approach for managing this time of year. It can be a time when you feel lonely, as other people are talking about their plans and families, but remember that you are not alone. There are many other people who are experiencing the same range of feelings. Fertility NZ runs support groups throughout the year and has some great resources, including a pamphlet that specifically addresses the grief that holidays can bring. Counselling also provides a safe and supportive environment to discuss the issues affecting you, and clinic counsellors are available for you to talk with confidentially.

In the meantime, take a deep breath in; breathe out; and step into December and the New Year, and take good care of yourself.

All the staff at Repromed wish you well.