Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Infertility And The Holidays

I have to be honest, I've been dreading Christmas since July.

I was dreading the holiday cheer, the Christmas songs, the stores, the commercials, all the happy families celebrating the happiest holiday of the year. I was quite sure I wanted to crawl into a hole on December 1st and not come out until the New Year was over.

And now, here I am, still wrapping my head around the fact, that I can actually participate in the holiday this year. That I can actually ENJOY myself. And I'm so happy because I hated the thought of never enjoying Christmas again, which is what I was quite sure was going to happen. And now, here I am, so blessed to be here and looking forward to all the things I was dreading.

And it's not just Christmas. For people struggling with infertility, the whole year is just one holiday after another. The calendar year is something to be dreaded as you become more and more isolated and shut off from the world around you.

The year starts off easy enough...

New Years -- This is where we make all those resolutions, or in the case of an infertile, their hopes and dreams and goals for the year ahead. We tell ourselves that this is going to be our year! We are not going to face another new Year's without a child. We are going to do whatever it takes to reach our dreams this year. And we kiss, still crushed from the year prior, but with a renewed hope for the year to come. This is going to be our year -- it has to be.

Valentines Day -- Finally, a holiday that doesn't remind us of children! It's all about love. Only, we are pumped up on drugs, or so exhausted from treatments, that it's hard to enjoy. Not to mention, in the back of our minds, we know all those other couples, sitting around us, eating their dinner, have children they get to go home to. Valentine's cards to help them write out. Little hearts and chocolates to scatter around the house in anticipation of little excited faces.

March Break -- On the heels of Valentines Day comes March break. Children abound, as families pack up to enjoy a fun week together somewhere. But not you. No, you plough forward, head down, trying not to notice.

Easter -- Next comes Easter. The stores are filled with reminders of children. Everywhere you look is a reminder of what you are missing. Easter bunnies, Easter baskets, Easter egg hunts. Pretty spring children's dresses. Excited little faces and happy families are everywhere. You long to be part of an easter egg hunt of your own, but instead, you close your eyes and hope you just make it through.

Mothers Day -- As if Easter wasn't bad enough, Mother's Day is close behind. A slap in the face to infertiles everywhere. You are not a mother and you wonder if you ever will be. You do not get breakfast in bed, a hand drawn card, a hug from that sweet little child telling you they love you. It's a painful reminder of what you will never have, and what everyone around you gets so easily. It's almost too much to bear, as you watch others enjoy what you long for so badly.

Fathers Day -- Of course Father's Day is right behind. Happy children and their dads, out to brunch, playing golf, fishing, enjoying the day together. You think of your husband and what he is missing. You can't help picturing him as a father, knowing how good he would be. You imagine your own children taking his hand and hopping up on his lap, smiling up at him. Their dad. Their hero. And you can't help from thinking how robbed he is, when you see the pain on his face.

Summer Holidays -- One of the best times of year for family fun. Kids are out of school. Everywhere you look are happy families picnicking, going to the park, the beach. And you long to be one of them. The carefree days of summer are everywhere. Long weekends and camping trips. Innocent times and bonding and memories being created that will last a life time. Yet, you still cannot join in the fun.

Weddings -- Of course, what would the summer be without weddings. You watch, as other couples get married, knowing that soon, their dreams will come true, and they will be blessed with families before you. You think back to your wedding, how excited and hopeful you were for the future together. All the family plans you had, the big house, the fun family trips. And it's painful to watch it come true for everyone else but you.

Baby showers -- Invites to baby showers come fast and furious. You can't even bear to open the envelope. You shop for other peoples' children, holding back the lump in your throat, trying not to breathe, and maybe you will get through it.

Birthdays -- Next comes your birthday. But you have nothing to celebrate. It's just a painful reminder that you are another year older, another year has passed without a child. Your chances are decreasing every single day. And you can't bear to blow out your candle, yet again, and make the only wish you have been wishing. Because it still hasn't come true.

Anniversaries -- Your wedding anniversary is upon you, and it's time to celebrate your love. The one thing that keeps you going through all the pain. But unfortunately, it's also an anniversary where you both will mourn another year passing without a child. The family you haven't created.

Back to School -- Back to school has become a season these days. You look around at all the stores, all the little knapsacks, and school supplies. Your nieces and nephews are getting older. Friends children are growing up before your eyes. Life is moving forward without you. You can't help but feel like it's completely passing you by.

Halloween -- As the autumn leaves fall, families are huddled up carving pumpkins together, making candy apples, playing in the falling leaves. And Halloween rolls around quickly. Parents dress up little angels, princesses, and monsters in the cutest outfits you have ever seen. You dread the day as it grows darker, knowing that soon, happy little children will be knocking on your door, saying trick or treat. And you will barely be able to keep yourself from crying. You think about everything you are missing. You long to be taking your own children out from house to house. And you end the night, a puddle on the floor, sobbing your eyes out, wishing you could hide away forever.

Thanksgiving -- The season of family is officially upon you. Happy families get together to share turkey and rejoice in all that they have to be thankful for. Just the thought of another holiday where you still don't have your own family to share it with, tortures you beyond belief. You have a hard time thinking of anything to be thankful for, let alone, sharing the holiday with family and friends who have everything you want. Everyone has a family except for you, and the pain cuts so deep you don't think you will survive it.

Christmas -- The holiday season is upon you in no time. The pinnacle of holidays is finally here. Christmas is the motherload, the holiday of all holidays. The one you have been dreading all year. For it is the season of children and dreams and families and miracles. For everyone but you. Little stocking hanging from the fireplace, ornaments on the tree, hopes of Santa, snowmen on front lawns, Christmas parades, hot chocolate, cold little toes and noses and happy laughter fills the air. The stores bellow out Christmas music. Commercials celebrate families and children. Movies are filled with the magic of family. Christmas lights and Santa sleighs, and nativity scenes are everywhere. Christmas cards arrive in the mail, all those happy smiling family pictures and updates from friends and families. The magic of the season is everywhere, all around you, suffocating you, choking you to death. The pain has never been so great, so real, and so deep. You envy everyone you see. You can barely venture out your front door. It is the happiest season of all, a season you once loved, a season you wonder if you will ever love again. A season that now pulls you under with such grief that you are sure you will die. But you don't die. You survive. As you brace yourself for the upcoming New Year and the whole new calendar that comes with it.

But now, suddenly, my luck has changed.

And here I am. Free to once again to enjoy the holidays. Free once again to believe in miracles. Free to shop, watch movies, visit families, bake cookies, decorate the tree. I don't have to hide away trying to avoid everyone and anyone with children and families. I still can't believe I'm actually free to join the world of holiday fun. We have never felt so blessed. So thankful. So happy.

This is everything we have ever wanted, our miracle has finally come true. And we plan on enjoying every single second.

But my heart goes out to all of you who have not been so lucky this year, to those of you still struggling, and hiding, and not able to join in the fun with the rest of the world. I know all too well what a lonely and isolating and heartbreaking time of year this is. And I'm sorry for anyone who has to go through it. I will say a prayer that the New Year brings with it all your hopes and dreams. That your prayers will finally be answered. And that, next year, you will be celebrating the miracle of the holiday season too.


Ashley said...

You are in my thougts honey! I am glad that you are still give me so much hope:)

Linda said...

Oh Lisa, your month-by-month is the story of my life for over a decade now. I've lived this way for so long that I can't even imagine what it would be like any other way.

But I'm glad that you got your miracle and are able to enjoy the holidays once again. :)

I do wish that you keep on blogging. You are a gifted writer.

Arpee said...

I wish too that next Christmas we would be in the same place as you are ....

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear you're in good spirits for the holdays. Not sure if you had your u/s yet, but if you did, I hope it went well!

Just Another Infertile said...

I'm so happy you get to enjoy the holidays from "the other side." You deserve to enjoy every single moment of your pregnancy.

Lost in Space said...

I'm so glad that you are able to have a new view this year. Enjoy every minute!

Anonymous said...

I think you need to move on with your life. While i was originally sad that you said you were going to stop blogging, the more I read, the more I agree with you that you are DONE (yeah!!) with this chapter in your life. You need to now enjoy life and move away from all of your negative thoughts.

Jill said...

What an accurate holiday descriptions. I rarely looked forward to many of them either. Until this year-since we've spent the past 3 holidays at CCRM busy trying to get to a successful cycle. So maybe the holidays will be different for me now? Hope so.

Heavy heart said...

Lisa, I think you are going to be one of those rare specimens in the 'fertile who would totally understand and be sensitive to those of us on the 'other' side. God bless you!

Emily said...

Enjoy all the new experiences! Happy Holidays!

Anonymous said...

Ditto Anonymous! Didn't want to say it, but was thinking the same thing:)