‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’ plays on the radio. Presents wrapped tightly, full bellies and holiday cheer. But when the lights turn off, in the quiet moments between celebrating there’s also darkness. Grief for things you’ve lost. Longing for something you want. And loneliness that can hit, even if surrounded by family or friends. Emotions that can’t be explained or filled within the space of an Instagram square. If you’re trying to conceive during the holidays, this time can be especially difficult to navigate.
Last year, the holidays left me broken. Just a short time after I’d experienced my pregnancy loss at five months. Raw, and vulnerable, instead of eager for a time I usually cherished, I shied away from everything. I’d once dreamed of getting to be part of a big family Christmas. A wish that did eventually come to fruition.
But last year, the thought of participating in festivities elicited so much anxiety I could barely find my breathe, let alone myself. I dreaded each furrowed brow directed by way, seething with sympathy. Every one is going through their own, small personal hell whatever that might be. But when you’re grieving during the holidays, you kind of live within a bubble.
Ironically, I longed for the days of quiet holidays. Just me and my mom watching movies and eating Chinese food.
This year, I’ve metamorphosed again and a year later, I’m in a new place. My being has shifted. From supreme grief, to somewhere that fear and faith inter mingle. An embodiment of what trying to conceive during the holidays can create.
The weight of my loss hasn’t left. But it has certainly dissipated. In return, I’ve gained a few things. The healing power of time, and perspective.
A desire, at times, to delve into the past. But also, ability to forge towards the future. And a constant effort to live wholly in the present.
I can balance parts of me that feel sadness or frustration with the ones that have gained positivity for everything. So this holiday season, I’m better at balancing grief with that new found gratitude.
This time of year can bring lots of happiness. But it’s also anxiety inducing. If you’re trying to conceive during the holidays after loss, the various stages of emotion can be vast. Highs of excitement and anticipation. Mixed with frustration, and serious stress. It’s not easy to manage, especially when it feels like everyone around you has it all together. (Which of course, they don’t.)
But in the space of a year, I’ve learned that some things can help ease the process. It doesn’t make it any simpler. But it can make it more manageable.
Here are a few self care tips helping me cope with trying to conceive during the holidays:
Do something you love.
While going through the journey of trying to conceive, the emotion of pure joy can be evasive. But during this time, it’s imperative to do things that do bring you that joy. Take a workout class, and get those endorphins going. Maybe it’s a day of beautifying. Or just making lunch or dinner plans with the friend you don’t get to see often.
Taking a day to focus on something else is a great way to allow yourself a little happiness. Because you deserve that too. Even if it only fills the spaces between other, tougher emotions.
Say no if you have to and be okay with it.
There’s nothing wrong with protecting yourself. That could mean excluding yourself from people or situations that could be difficult. Saying no to something, even if it’s hard can be the best self care you could administer. The people who love you will understand.
Give yourself space to be sad.
It might seem the best thing to combat grief during the holidays is being around people. But sometimes, the best thing you can gift yourself, besides self love, is space. Because solitude can actually be beneficial.
Treat yourself to a present.
It’s okay to invest in yourself in more ways than one. Like buying something that you know will make YOU smile. For me that’s been a Tiffany & Co coffee table book, and a twenty piece Godiva chocolate box. Whatever your happy place is, buy yourself some.
Be easy on you.
There’s so much stress involved if you’re trying to conceive during the holidays. Many times put upon us by ourselves. Life can look different than you envisioned. But rather then beating yourself up for what looks different, lean into those emotions.
Allow yourself to experience feelings of sadness when you have them. That could take on many forms. Maybe it’s sharing your story or writing something in a journal. Perhaps honoring your late baby in other ways. Like with a Christmas ornament, which I decided to do this year. Something I never would have been able to do just one December ago.
Embrace the positive moments too. Giving ourselves permission to feel, instead of shutting down those thoughts can be beneficial to moving forward.
Nothing clears your mind faster than a walk outside. So even if it’s only for ten minutes, get outdoors. Breathe in the fresh air. Take in nature, if you’re around it. Take a moment to realize that this is all bigger than you. It might not change anything, but it can give you a moment of peace. And isn’t that worth it?
It might seem slightly altruistic in nature. But volunteering can be a great form of self care if you’re trying to conceive during the holidays. Sometimes, taking the focus off yourself, and giving back to someone who needs it is just what your heart and mind needs to clear a pathway.
Make a vision board with your spouse.
A vision board is a great way to visualize your future. But making one with our spouse can be a creative and loving act. As well as a great way to bond. Just remember that ultimately, visualization needs action. Otherwise, it’s just a fun collage.
Share your story.
Having a safe touchstone to turn to can often be hard to find.
I only have a small group of people I can confide in who I know will fully support me. Even smaller, those who actually relate or understand the struggles. But no matter how big or small your net is, there is safety in falling into it.
One of the things that has helped me the most with the process is sharing my story. It’s not easy to do and it took me a long time to understand. But once I did, I realized there is beauty and healing in being honest about what you’re going through.