Christmas is a tough time for anyone suffering from infertility. There’s no sugar-coating it; it gets easier, but never easy. After 5 Christmases, my husband and I have travelled down this road many times.
This year, there is a new baby in the family. Her name is Alice, or as I like to call her, Baby Squishy. She’s adorable and tiny and precious.
This is my second niece, and this time around I handled it much better. I’m sure everyone will agree, but I won’t ask them, because they would probably remind me how awful I was last time around. When my niece Evelyn was born, we had just found out it would be near impossible for us to conceive on our own. In her first year, we suffered many heartbreaks on our way to parenthood. And we’re still on that road. I’ve realized for a while now that I didn’t handle her first year well. All I can do is hope my family forgives me.
I cried when my sister-in-law told us she was pregnant. I cried a few times during her pregnancy. Maybe more than a few. I think it would have been accurate to say I went on a short drinking binge. I cried until my eyes were so puffy I couldn’t see. It brought back all the feelings of failed treatments, of our miscarriage, of our years of trying. It brought back the reality of the message from our specialists: This was going to be a long and very difficult road.
But since Baby Squishy was born, I haven’t actually cried. Instead I cuddled her, bought her some cute baby stuff (silver sparkly shoes at 1 month? Why yes, of course!).
When I see a pregnant person, my first gut reaction is to think about the unfairness of it all. Seeing my SIL was no different some days. It’s hard sometimes, but is it unfair? In the past, I would have said yes. But the truth is that it’s not unfair to anyone that my SIL and her husband get to have another child. It’s only unfair that we haven’t been successful yet. We’ve been through this for years now, and I see that those 2 things are unrelated. My SIL getting pregnant has nothing to do with us not getting pregnant. I’m not going to lie, it’s still hard. They have this beautiful little family that I’m envious of. I still feel incomplete and empty sometimes when I think about everything we’ve tried and still had no success. But I can’t for one second say it’s unfair for them to have a family. I am thrilled for them, and for my beautiful nieces. But then again, some days it’s tough just because I’d love to have my own family. And I want it so badly but it’s so far away.
At least DC is on the table, right? Having that plan in sight has made things easier. We had been planning on going to DC in the spring to see a new specialist. However, with the Canadian dollar doing so poorly, I keep watching the cost creep up higher and higher. Right now, we don’t have enough money for treatment and flights… I hate feeling like money is the only thing stopping us from having a family. It’s really frustrating. Of course we’ll find a way to make it work, just like we have so far. Spending $60k (or whatever dreadful number we’re up to) on treatment so far hasn’t been ideal, but we made it work. We’ll continue to do so until we have our precious miracle baby, and then continue once he/she is here.
So how do I survive ANOTHER Christmas? I let myself cry, or laugh, or scream. Over the years I’ve had many different counsellors. Most have told me to be strong, find something that makes me happy and redirect my energy towards that. But the one who was most beneficial to me gave me a small scrap of paper with a few words written on it. I can’t remember exactly what it said, but the idea was that I didn’t need to try and cheer up. I didn’t need to pretend I felt ok. What I needed to do what feel how I felt, and deal with it head on. If I bottled my tears they would explode. That was the best piece of advice anyone ever gave me. It was like she gave me permission to hurt and cry, and didn’t need me to pretend to be tough. She gave me permission to not apologize for hurting. So instead of wasting energy “pretending” I was ok, I just cried. And it’s amazing how much of a difference that made in my life.
So if this is your first Christmas after being diagnosed, or struggling to have a child, I’m sorry. It’s not fair that you are having trouble, and life isn’t fair. And if you’re family of someone struggling, just love them. Don’t tell them it will be ok or that the universe has other plans. Just love them, and tell them you’re there for them.