I appreciate Christmas this year, I REALLY do, even if it’s more of the secular parts. Decorating the house and gathering with friends and family — I really look forward to these. But, I couldn’t say the same for the past two Christmases, and there is more to why this year the holiday will be extra-special for me…
You see, the past two years at Christmas I was grieving, grieving the loss of numerous early pregnancies, and I was a little lost in the empty feeling inside of me. It was really difficult to avoid the topic of baby when you’re celebrating a holiday that revolves around, well…the birth of a baby.
I did everything I possibly could to try to keep myself upbeat these past two Christmases for my daughter’s sake. Christmas is normally a happy time for those who celebrate, and I didn’t want to get in the way of that for her.
I overcame great hurdles to deal socially, but not. How do I explain that? When I’m in the middle of a social situation, for example, a friend’s pregnancy announcement during those tough two years, I can handle it right then and there. I didn’t stop being happy for others. It was when I looked inwards and thought about my own situation that I’d feel down.
But, the anxiety and the anticipation of having to talk about babies or fertility or think about the Christmas card that was supposed to have another child in it, but didn’t, or the gifts that were never bought and put under the tree for the children who I couldn’t bring to life. Thinking was what was killing me. And, the only one who knew every thought that I was thinking at every precise moment was me.
It would take a lot for me to shed tears of frustration in front of anyone other than my husband, which is probably why people thought I was handling it so well. Or, why people talked about baby related things or other things they couldn’t possibly dream of would bother me that would, well…bother me. But, those times where I tended to break down in tears in front of my family happened around holidays.
It is really difficult to be around so much joy when you are grieving. I absorbed everyone’s joy under my skin, and when it whirled it’s way inside my body and into my core, what usually made me feel really good, it made me erupt into tears. I was truly happy for everyone, and I think that’s my nature, but I wasn’t happy for me. Where were my babies? I wanted to feel that joy, too. But, I wasn’t ready to yet.
Every year we spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my family in the U.S. and then afterwards fly over to England to celebrate with my husband’s family. Those past two years I couldn’t get on the plane at first. Both years my husband had to cancel our flights the day before, only to reinstate them a few days later until I could get up the nerve to continue the journey.
And, I’d go. And, I’d be fine.
I’m writing this because I haven’t forgotten. I’ve been to that other side where a time of the year that is usually the most fun and looked forward to surprised me by being the most difficult to get through.
I’ve been to that place, where the Holidays weren’t so…fun. But, here I am nearly 7 months pregnant and no longer grieving, and I have a lot to look forward to. This year I’m truly enjoying all the Christmasy things — baking cookies, wrapping gifts, decorating, the New York City Rockefeller Christmas tree and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular — with my 3 year-old daughter and my husband. This year I’m not just going through the motions to get myself through the holidays. No, I’m enjoying it, and the emotions are real for me again. Choosing to be happy can be difficult at times, but this year that won’t be the case.
And, there’s no stress of traveling to or packing for England because I’m pregnant, and we’ve opted to stay home this year. I won’t miss the flight, or flying from cold weather to cold weather, or the jet lag or what the English call “Christmas pudding”, but I will definitely miss the friends and family, seeing my nephew and meeting my new niece, mum’s Yorkshire pudding, the Crunchy bars, the family board games and the kettle always boiling for tea with every home we visit.
My feelings those past two years can’t be so out of the ordinary given the situation. Can they? I can’t help but think that for some reason or another there will be people struggling through the Holidays this year, including many women struggling emotionally through pregnancy loss or infertility.
My best advice to myself at the time was to be strong, let myself cry, talk openly about it, but not to retreat socially. I worked hard to choose to be happy no matter how difficult it seemed, otherwise I may have missed out on some of the good times that helped boost me through it all. I wasn’t perfect at any of this, but I did keep trying.
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