This post is going to seem like a dramatic contradiction from my last one. And it shouldn't be. I really am trying to find joy in this journey, and some kind of happiness this holiday season. And I have been successful for the most part.
Let me just say I am really looking forward to Christmas and celebrating the reason for the season, the birth of Jesus Christ. I know all those other things - Santa, presents, etc etc, are just fluff. But it is impossible to avoid it, and to not imagine sharing these things with my child too.
As for the actual holiday season (Christmas Day excluded), it can't be over soon enough. While I am keeping my chin up as much as possible, some nights are just really hard. And tonight was one of them.
Holidays can be SO hard for people who are struggling, not just with infertility, but with any of life's challenges. For someone struggling with money problems, it could be the fear of having nothing for your children for Christmas. For someone struggling with the loss of a parent, Mother's or Father's Day would be difficult. For someone who is lonely, Valentine's Day can hurt.
I have always been a person who treasures traditions and celebrations. Watching holiday after holiday pass by, year after year, can feel devastating at times.
I read this blog entry recently. The author, Lisa, describes what each holiday feels like in the world of infertility. I have a lot of experience writing out my own thoughts, and that is helpful. But nothing prepares you to read someone else's words describe your feelings so precisely. Yes, it is dark and depressing, but I have had all these thoughts. I usually try to put on a positive face, but they are there, even though I wish I could say they weren't. Tears fell as I read my experiences of each holiday for the last five years, as told by Lisa.
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. Friend's 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.