Oh Christmas, my least favorite time of the year as we attempt to become parents. To be honest Christmas time hasn’t always been hard for me, the first coupe of years didn’t really get to me. This year is probably the most difficult. The last few years we have had something significant going on. Last year my dad was fresh out of kidney removal surgery and experiencing some horrible post op complications, we spent Christmas in the ICU with him and ended up grabbing dinner at a local casino. The year before we didn’t celebrate too much, my dad and I had spent Thanksgiving back in California so Christmas kinda just happened. And, in 2014 we had just made our big move from the Bay Area to Las Vegas. It was our first month in our new home, new city and state and our first time living with my dad, my mind was occupied and infertility was the last thinging I was thinking about, man do I miss those times. This year has been different. 2017 has been EXTREMELY difficult on many levels. I spent every day from Dec 19th, 2017-Feb in the hospital with my dad. From February until May/June I spent every week in the hospital or ER with either my dad or my husband. Feb-April brought my husbands health scare and diagnosis and it brought a lot of nights in the hospital, doctors appointments, PICC line meds and the possibility of surgery. While all of this was going on I was still working 45+ hours a week and going to school full-time. 2017 also brought our first attempts at fertility treatment. I was having diagnostic testing done during all of the chaos, I went to my final appointment while my husband was hospitalized and we had just found out he likely needed major surgery to remove a portion of his colon. thankfully we are through all of that and the last half of 2017 has slowed down tremendously. I finished my fall semester with a 3.2 GPA and we had time to visit my husband’s family back in the Bay Area for a wedding. We are finally “knock on wood” settling into our new norm and our daily life. The calming that has taken place in our life has given me a lot more time to feel. As the year comes to an end it reminds me of yet another year that we are childless. It’s another holiday we are celebrating wishing we had more. A reminder of how long we’ve been on this journey.
The Holidays are a touchy subject for a lot of us dealing with fertility struggles and for me, this year has been a reminder of what I don’t have. I am more aware of the joy that other people have this time of year. I don’t know about you but this year I have seen countless posts about how much happier and brighter the holiday’s are with children and how special it is to have a family of your own this time of year. With every christmas card or cheesy holiday post, I am left with an even bigger void in my heart and in my home. I know a lot of women out there are feeling the same, but you aren’t alone. I consider myself lucky when the holidays roll around. My husband and I both work jobs that require us to work on holidays and we have no family around so we don’t have to sit and pretend we are happy. I know not all of you are lucky enough to legitimately avoid the increased heartache that family parties bring right now. This is why I wanted to write this post. I wanted to remind each one of you on this journey that what ever it is you feel right now, it’s okay. And honestly, it’s okay NOT to be okay.
obviously every one of us handle the heartache a little differently. If you’re feeling lost right now or the pain is just too much to handle, I wanted to give you some ideas of how you may be able to cope with this, especially during the holiday season. Each one of these things is very personal and they may not be perfect for all of us, these are things that I find helpful. I am VERY open about my journey and I know a lot of us keep this struggle private.
- Say “NO”: If you don’t want to go to the family Christmas party with all the extended family members and your dear ‘ol aunt, say no!
- Speak up: When you have people rudely ask when you’re going to have children, tell them about your struggle. I look at these questions as opportunities. It’s a chance for me to explain what we are going through. It allows me time to educate family and friends that fertility isn’t always easy for everyone.
- Self care: Do it. Find time for you. Find time for your relationships and enjoy what you do have. Self care doesn’t always mean expensive trips or pampering. Read your favorite book, binge watch Netflix, eat a good dinner. Do something that makes you happy.
- Let yourself feel: This has been huge for me. I often find myself trying to push down the feelings. I don’t want to talk about how sad or discouraged I feel and I internalize it. This does nothing but make me more sad and more bitter. I have begun allowing myself time to feel. I cry if I need to, talk to friends if I need to, let my husband know what I am feeling. I allow myself to feel whatever it is I am feeling and this has helped me navigate this exceedingly difficult time of year.
- Faith purchases: Faith purchases are something I started doing years ago. I buy items for our future child with anticipation and hope for the future. I don’t go crazy, I buy an item here and there that I wouldn’t otherwise purchase, like an expensive baby carrier that I wouldn’t spend the money on while saving for unpaid time off. I keep these items in a hope chest knowing one day they’ll be put to great use. They help me ease the pain a little and it fills the void of not having a baby to buy for this time of year.
There are so many things you can do this time of year to help ease the pain of infertility. I hope these ideas may help you find something that reduces the sting of the holiday season. Know, you are not alone in the journey and in this pain. You have an extremely large and supportive group of women standing beside you on your journey to motherhood. If you are currently dealing with infertility and you aren’t having a hard time with christmas just a few days away, that is okay too! A lot of women embrace this family time it helps them heal in some ways, each one of us walks a different path to parenthood. If you’re feeling the emptiness a little more than usual, like I am, it’s okay too. It’s okay to be okay and it’s okay not to be okay.