Infertility Hope During the Holidays

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I’ve been following Still Standing, and a post today rubbed me the wrong way. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Boxing Day, and New Year’s are all triggers for me.

Thanksgiving, my entire family was here. For my parents, that’s a HUGE deal. Why? Because I was pregnant. Thanks, M., for making that happen. It wouldn’t have happened if not for you. 🙂

December 25th was the last happy day I can remember. I was blissfully pregnant, enjoying my belly and waiting to feel wiggles. I announced to our parents that we were having a GIRL! My husband and I gifted each other presents to prepare us to be the best parents possible. I made plans to hit up the after-Christmas specials to buy cute little outfits for my little girl’s first Christmas. I tear up just typing that.

December 26th. The bad news.

December 31st – January 1st. How could I possibly have a good year? I wanted to curb stomp each and every person who cursed me with happiness for 2013. Fuck you. Fuck your new year. My world was ending on January 2nd, and it was a long, painful death until January 4th. Needless to say, I’m a bit of a grinch this year.

The good news is that these holidays aren’t anything really special to me, so I don’t feel like I’ve lost too much. My family isn’t here, and my in-laws are pretty low key, so I don’t have to be around children, pregnant women, or have people ask me when I plan on having kids. I can get drunk and no one will judge me.

So I was really looking forward to reading a post on Skipping Christmas from Still Standing, a magazine for infertility and child loss.

I had high hopes for this article, because  was looking for something realistic, that I can relate to.
And I was digging it – until I got here:

Then I look at my daughter.

This is her 4th Christmas. Full of wonder and joy. She just now understands the concept of Santa and Jesus’ birthday. Her anticipation of Christmas beams out of her shining eyes when she talks about it, over and over. “When will we go to Nana and Papa’s? How many days? When is Santa coming? Will he be on the roof? Can I see him? Where is the snow?”

It’s a constant, gentle reminder to me that these holidays aren’t just about me and my grief. They’re also about me being a mother to the little girl I am blessed to raise. And to take away Christmas from her this year – I can’t do that. It won’t bring me any more joy or comfort to skip or downplay it.

What happened to my sons happened. They are gone and I will miss and long for them forever. Every holiday, every event, every milestone will hurt for the rest of my life in some small way.

But she’s there waiting for me to make it magic for her, despite the pain and sorrow.

So we won’t skip Christmas this year. Why should any of us have to deal with more sadness? Maybe one year we’ll change it up and it will be the best thing for us. Not this year though.

And once again, I get kicked in the teeth by surviving child hope. The idea that I have to go on for my child. But I don’t have a child. I have cats. I have a lone budgie. I have koi fish. I have an independent husband who is rather lukewarm about the holidays, to be be generous.

It’s not that I’m angry at her – that’s her motivation. But what about the rest of us? Those of us who still have empty hearts? Those of us who lived through more than our fair share of grief? (author’s note – by this, I don’t mean to say that my grief is MORE than hers – In my opinion, anyone who has faced infertility and/or baby loss has already gone through more than their fair of grief. I always say on here that grief is grief: It’s not a contest who has suffered the worst. I was just kind of sad that I felt alienated by a post that I thought that I thought I was going to relate to – and that’s MY issue, not the author’s. This totally sounds like I’m minimizing her loss that was not my intent at all. She was gracious enough not to call me on it in her comment below. I don’t think I would have shown that much restraint. 🙂 )

Do I pretend to happy for my husband? Do I live for him? That makes me feel icky inside. I live for myself. People who tell me that I have to have hope, or that my daughter wouldn’t want me to be sad means nothing to me. In fact, it actually makes me angry. Stop trying to my grief to make you feel better.

Today, when I was leaving the grocery store, I found myself humming a Christmas carol. I think it might have been Walking in a Winter Wonderland. And to be honest, I don’t know why I was happy. I just was. And I’m okay with that.

The grief is still there. So is the rage. The pain. The bad feelings.

But I’m not controlled by them anymore. I understand what I did and why. I understand that there are people out there who disagree with my decision. I understand that they are incapable of having empathy for my individual situation. And I’m okay with that.

Cosmo ran an article about my situation a few weeks ago. And there were some horribly nasty comments. My husband even started his Facebook page just to address them. I think it was his way of defending me, protecting me. And he came to the same conclusion that I did: those people will refuse to change their world view. And I’m okay with that, too.

So my early Christmas present to myself is peace. Peace for myself.

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6 thoughts on “Infertility Hope During the Holidays

  1. This really really reasonates with me. First, I’m just SO sorry- for you, for all of us. For the “us” that know what it’s like to have the happiest times turn into the saddest- in an instance. To feel
    That incredible sense of despair, powerlessness and grief. Like you, I’ve struggled to find peace and god knows I’ve beat up on myself in innumerable ways this past rotten, shitty year. All
    I can say is, I understand. 2014 better be good to you. You really deserve a year filled with plain ole fantastic.
    Those people who read that article and judged? Shame on them. There’s no limit (unfortunately) to heartlessness and ignorance. Thankfully there are many, many others ( myself included) who feel privileged to “know” you and hear your story. XO

    • Thanks. 🙂 I was planning on celebrating the new year on the 31st, the Chinese New Year and discovered that it is bad luck to when you are in your birth year. 2014 is year of the horse. I’m a horse. Next year is supposedly bad luck. I think I must have preemptively for all bad luck out, but I’m not taking any chances. In wearing red every day for the year of the horse!

      Hope things are going well for you! 😉

  2. Articles like that are really difficult. I don’t think that infertility, miscarriage and loss of a child only affect those of us who are otherwise childless but reading about how a surviving child was the only motivation to go on and to get out of bed in the morning leaves the rest of us feeling like we shouldn’t bother. I’ve written about it on my blog before but I do think that this journey is very different for those who have no children and I think you’ve just identified the key reason – motivation. It is much harder for us to identify and cling to a motivation without a surviving child. Sure my motivation could be my husband, we could each motivate each other. But he is struggling the same as me so we could equally just encourage each other not to bother and to both spend each day in bed consumed by grief. Thankfully the dogs ‘motivate’ me to physically get out of bed by whining, dragging and jumping about until I do. But as a fellow blogger has very eloquently titled her blog “dogs aren’t kids”!

    I hope you are able to find some more moments of happiness this Christmas period even if they take you by surprise like the song singing. Fingers crossed 2014 will bring more lasting happiness x

    • I also think that when I have clung to my husband as my motivation, it has made my clingy and co-dependent. I hate that. I don’t want to depend on other people. I worry about those people who focus on their surviving children or jump right into a “rainbow” baby aren’t just delaying their grief. I do know that when I was doing IUI’s again that I spent all of my time and attention on TTC and not my grief. I thought it was over. And then once I stopped trying, it popped back up, worse than ever. And this time, people weren’t as sympathetic because they felt like I should be over it already.

      I will admit that I’ve thought about adopting a puppy lately. I keep trying to talk DH into a Corgi or a Pug, but I think he has his heart set on a Sheltie.

  3. I’m so very sorry my article made you feel bad. That truly wasn’t my intention at all. I have empty arms this year too. Again. After losing 3 sons. One dying in my arms 3 weeks into his life. And my daughter is a painful reminder of it all. And I would never, ever want to hurt anyone more. I’m so sorry – please know however you choose to celebrate (or not!) this season is the right way for you.

    • No, your article didn’t hurt me or make me sad, and you have nothing to apologize over. Nothing. I own my feelings and it’s not your fault that I’m overly sensitive. I just find it hard to relate to what gives other people hope. I don’t have hope for another pregnancy, and I almost suffocated my husband when I was using him as my sole reason to get through the day. I don’t have faith that if I pray hard enough, I’ll have a healthy baby. I honestly don’t know how to verbalize my hope right now, and if anything, your post got me thinking about MY hope. I did not mean to be critical, just provide my perspective.

      There was nothing insensitive in your article, but when I looked back at mine, I think I inadvertently was insensitive when I said I had been through more than my fair share of grief, which insinuates that you haven’t. I apologize for that. I think anyone who had gone through infertility or baby loss has been through more than their fair of grief, and I hope you didn’t read that as I suffered more than you. I always say here that we have different grief, but it’s not a competition. I’m going to back and change that wording because I don’t like the connotation it gives off.

      Still Standing has a very diverse audience, and because of that, we won’t always be able to relate to one another’s situation, but I think we all understand grief. It’s a universal language.

      Thanks for the message!

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