The C word!

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I know it’s not quite November but for fertility patients this time in the run up to Christmas is fraught with additional tensions. Mainly this is due to IVF clinics closing down for ‘deep cleaning’ and being on reduced staff over the Christmas break. There is a need to arrange for embryo transfers to take place before this happens or to be in the down regulation phase of the drug protocol which allows two weeks without too much intervention by the clinic.

Given that women (and humans in general) are not machines, our cycles don’t always start when they’re ‘supposed’ to or at a time that would be convenient. We know this whether or not we’re going through IVF or even trying to conceive. I’m sure we’ve all had a rogue period start on the day of a sports event or on holiday, just when it’s not wanted and not expected.

It’s difficult, as a practitioner, not to get wound up at the expectations of IVF clinics for women’s bodies to conform to their schedules but I reluctantly admit that they have to work to some sort of timetable. But it does translate as an added pressure on the woman who feels that her body is not working as it should and she’s doing something wrong. Girls, we are not robots!!!

The other problem with Christmas is the social pressure to drink alcohol. It’s amazing how difficult it is at this time of year, with the parties and social gatherings starting, to avoid sneaky appraising looks as soon as someone says they don’t want a drink. I think this is changing now with more people cutting down and choosing to go without alcohol but it’s still the norm to have at least one drink at a party and is almost impossible to say no without it drawing attention.

The dilemma then is what to say when people ask. Some women get away with clutching one glass of wine for the whole evening, putting it down when they get the chance or pouring the contents away and filling the glass with water. I think it’s valid to just say “I’m cutting down” and people should be mature enough to accept that but in reality, and this is worse with old friends where our friendships are often based on youthful wild nights out, it still raises eyebrows and knowing silences.

The fact is that, unless someone has experienced their own difficulties conceiving, they will probably not be able to understand where you’re coming from. Most couple trying to conceive don’t want to share what they’re going through with even the closest friends so sometimes we just have to lie or deceive in order to get through this intensely social time over Christmas.

Don’t despair though. It will pass. And there’s nothing wrong with turning down invitations and staying at home and relaxing anyway. We all deserve time off from the hustle and bustle and the pressures of appearing to be overtaken with Christmas spirit. Give yourself permission to chill out at home instead with bed socks, hot water bottle and a mug of hot chocolate!