It is the most wonderful time of the year, right? Full of happiness, cheer and all that jazz….
It wasn’t until I was struggling with infertility that the “most wonderful time of the year” turned into the worst. It was a time when I would want to go to bed and wake up after the New Year. Why is that, you wonder?? Similar to how someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one, people who are infertile are grieving the child that they want desperately in their life. If you are blessed enough to not have even had to deal with infertility, then this will help you have some insight into how hard the holidays are for infertile people. Give yourself a pat on the back. You are about increase what I like to call your CQ – Compassion Quotient 😉
Thanksgiving. A time when you, hopefully, are able to sit around the table with your family. It is a day that you can focus on all the many blessings that you have in your life. But what if the one thing that your heart desires most is out of your reach? What if you are at the adult table staring at the kid table wondering, “When is it my turn?” Ironically, the main topic of conversation at said adult table is….kids. What can you add to the conversation? The failed cycles? The horrible side effects from the evil fertility drugs? The nights you spend crying yourself to sleep? Sure. Go ahead and put on that “Hello My Name is: WET BLANKET” sticker on your shirt! There will be updates on friends and family. Judy is pregnant. Susie just had a baby. And Lisa just had her 5th baby!! Each one is like a dagger to your aching heart. You may even hear one of your family members saying how thankful they are to be able to send their kids to another table so they can have some peace and quiet. (Believe me as a mother of three now…I GET IT!! But it still hurts to hear.) Your heart breaks because you would give anything to have every second of your day consumed with a precious child. Do they realize what a blessing they have? You try hard to focus on the blessings you have in your life. However, the hole in your heart that only a child can fill, feels so hollow today. Will it be filled by next Thanksgiving?
Christmas. In 2013, it started before the holiday. I was ordering my Christmas cards. I had it all planned out. The cute Christmas card with a clever pregnancy announcement all in one. It was going to be so precious. But things didn’t go according to my plan. After nearly a year of fertility treatments, there was no announcement to be made. I just had a broken heart that no one even knew about because infertility just isn’t something that you talk about openly.
As much as this holiday should be focused on Jesus’ birth, it is still very much centered around Santa and children. I am blessed to have a close knit family and love to be around them. I am proud to call myself Aunt Teppie to six nieces and nephews. As much as I love them, it wasn’t always easy to be around them. I would spend all day with my game face on. My smile plastered on my face and ready to play. I would fight the thoughts about wishing I had one of my own. I would smile and give a trite answer when asked when Eric and I were going to have one of our own. “Our kids are going to be so far apart in age that they won’t be close!!” “I’m trying the best I can!!” I would scream in my head as I smiled and shrugged.
At night, I would be exhausted from playing the happy Aunt Teppie all day. I was emotionally drained. How long would I just be Aunt Teppie? When would it be my turn to be Mommy? I wanted to be up late at night wrapping baby dolls and toy cars. I wanted to have silly fights with Eric about how to put together the $@$% play kitchen. I wanted to have my baby on my knee reading “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” for the umpteenth time. Would it be different next Christmas? Last Christmas I was sure I would have a baby by now. Will it ever happen?
Oh then New Years. Did I even want to reflect on the last year? Failed cycle after failed cycle. Ups and downs. Waiting for test results. Waiting for a phone call. Waiting for an appointment. Waiting for another cycle. Hadn’t I wished away the better part of the last year? Would next year be any different?
When I think back a few years ago to New Year’s, Eric and I were energized. We were about to start fertility treatments with our frozen embryos affectionately called our “totsicles.” We couldn’t wait to see what God had in store for us because in our mind it meant a baby or even babies!! Unfortunately, instead of a baby it was a year of pain and sadness. By the time New Year’s rolled around again, we were ready to throw a party to declare “So long 2013. Don’t let the door hit you in the …”
Now I look back to last year’s New Years Eve when I was celebrating publishing my book about what I learned on my journey through Infertility. I feel that same energy I felt a couple of years ago but about a completely different journey. God did have a plan for me. I never in a million years would have dreamed two years ago that this would be His plan for me.
So my message for you is to stay strong. When you go to bed feeling emotionally drained, pray. Pray for strength. Pray for patience. Pray for clarity about all the choices you are faced with every day. God loves you and hears you. He will give you the strength that you need.
You may not find out what the plan is for you and your family as quickly as you want to, but there is a plan for you. You may be celebrating New Year’s in a year or two and have a better reality than you could have ever dreamed of…