The holidays. It’s a time of year that I usually can never wait to arrive. Growing up, the month of December always held a great deal of excitement. Not only would I celebrate Christmas, but my birthday is also in the month of December. There was nothing more exciting than breaking out the Christmas decor, making a shopping list, and planning family gatherings.
As the years drew on, I became less and less excited about my birthday (ha), but a new celebration would begin in 2010. It was during December of that year, that I finally got sober. Life changed forever. It was from there that I developed an overwhelming sense of gratitude for a new beginning, a new chance, and a new life. The month of December became even more special.
Even during some difficult times, I have always been able to find the magic in Christmas. As a Christian, I always try to celebrate the true meaning of the holiday and use it as a time to evaluate my life and my personal connection with God. I think that no matter what religious or spiritual beliefs that someone might carry, we all have the ability to use this time of year to reflect and grow.
I have had lonely Christmases. Christmases where I was either by myself or surrounded by people that cared nothing about me. I am sad to say that there were many holidays where I was too loaded to remember much of what took place. All of that darkness never deterred me from loving the holiday and all that it represented…until last year.
As the end of 2016 approached, my husband and I were feeling defeated. We had been trying to get pregnant for the last year and a half and had been unsuccessful. One miscarriage, countless fertility treatments, and one failed IVF later, I was trying to remain hopeful. I decided to start another round of IVF at the end of November. While I intuitively knew that it was a bad idea to do it during the holiday season, I told myself that it would definitely work this time. This would be our Christmas miracle. It wasn’t. Another failed treatment.
I went into a very dark place that Christmas. For the first time in my life, the sound of Christmas music made me cringe. The Christmas decor that I had been so excited to set up looked only like a big pile of junk. I had so much to be grateful for this Christmas. Perhaps it was all of the hormones that I had taken or maybe I had just finally had enough – but I was tired, empty, and broken. For the first time in my life, I honestly questioned if my life was worth living. It was a Christmas that I will never forget.
I have done a lot of healing since then. While my husband and I still have not successfully conceived, we have both begun to find our peace in what is and whatever will be. While I was discussing holiday plans with my husband the other night, I realized that while I am not dreading the holidays, I am not just overly excited about them either. Maybe that’s why I decided to write this.
To my fellow infertile women – you’re not alone. This time of year is hard and it’s okay to recognize that.
During Christmas, we have a reminder of babies everywhere we look. While we celebrate the birth of our Savior, we see babies in mangers. We begin receiving Christmas cards with our friend’s adorable children on them. We try to imagine the day that we will have our own children to celebrate Christmas morning with. Facebook posts of our friend’s Christmas-baby-bumps start appearing. Then come the pregnancy announcements.
It’s not that we are not happy for those who get pregnant. I wholeheartedly promise that. I would never wish what I have gone through on ANYBODY. Pregnancy announcements can be painful anytime of year, but there is something about Christmas that makes it a little harder. I can remember seeing those sonogram photos in Christmas stockings, or centered in a wreath on someone’s pregnancy announcement.
“Why isn’t me?,” I would ask. Then my heart would break just a little more.
Ladies – you may feel broken and you may feel defeated, but you are not alone. While I cannot take the pain away, I do suggest a few things this Christmas to help you through.
Don’t Do Any Fertility Treatments During the Holidays
Don’t do what I did. You will tell yourself that you are strong enough for it, and you will think that you will be okay if it doesn’t work. All of that is difficult to do when you have ridiculous amounts of hormones being pumped into your body every day. It is hard to get into the Christmas spirit when you are nauseous from your medications or can’t walk because of the horrible injections that you have been giving yourself. Take a break. Try to enjoy what you can and start again in January.
Reach Out to Others
Not only are you not the only one struggling with infertility, but you are not the only one who is struggling in general. This time of year can be hard for plenty of people, with a variety of circumstances. This Christmas, I will be getting out of myself and trying to focus on others. There are so many people hurting.
Reflect and Grow
It’s the end of the year. Take the time to think about what you can do to grow spiritually and if there was anything that you could have done differently. With every obstacle that I encounter, I try to imagine it as a wake-up call. Is there something different that I should be doing? Is there a part of me that needs changing?
Follow the Bread Crumbs
When I examine my life, I can see how every piece of something has led me to something greater. Every crumb takes me one step closer to my destination. You’re on a path, my friend. A path that our Creator would never lead us down if it wasn’t meant for us. Just take it one day at a time, hold on for the ride, and know that you are never alone.