The approach of Christmas and all of its trappings brought up unique concerns for us this year. Its well documented that Christmas (along with all holidays) is often difficult for those experiencing infertility, as much as we desperately don’t want it to be. Add to that our current family situation (click the link for my July post explaining part if it – or it can be summed up as follows: after four-and-a-half years of infertility and two pregnancy losses we currently have at least four pregnant friends, multiple infants including newborns in the extended family, and a pregnant younger sister who will be turning my parents into grandparents for the first time -knife in the heart) and we really do have the perfect storm as Melissa Ford describes in this article so spot-on:
Christmas is sort of the perfect storm of holidays for someone infertile. On one front, it is a holiday about the birth of a baby–and a virgin birth at that–on another, it is a holiday centered on children, and finally, it is celebrated with family. Those three fronts come together to either create pure bliss if you are expecting or recently delivered and pure hell for those who are still in the trenches of infertility.
Think about it this way: what if there was an enormous holiday called The Great Peanut Day that everyone celebrated non-stop for two months or more every year? Families would plan their lives around the Great Peanut Day, stores would play music hailing the legume, and all food prepared for weeks on end would involve the peanut. Oh, and the final part of this analogy is that you have an enormous peanut allergy. You’re still invited to everything because, damn, it’s the Great Peanut Day and you can’t sit home by yourself. But you can’t participate at all (lest you go into anaphylactic shock and ruin everyone else’s good time) and the whole day serves as a reminder of what you can’t do. At least not now, not until they have figured out a way to cure your nut allergy, which you are promised will be in the future. At some point. Though perhaps not before the next Great Peanut Day.
And if you want to make an argument that infertility is not about life and death, I beg you to read No Swimmer’s recent post about the holidays.
The analogy may seem extreme, but it points out the fact that there are many different ways people view Christmas and they’re not all filled with boughs of holly. Christmas can be one of the most difficult holidays for those experiencing infertility as well as one of the happiest ones once you are parenting. And those two extremes are so deeply apparent at this time of year between those in the trenches and those actively parenting.
I could write mountains of text about this – I’ve actually written and erased so much text in this post – but I need to keep it simple. Bottom Line: I am in so much emotional pain this year and our family gatherings are laced with so many emotional grenades (friendly fire, mind you) that we decided to just opt out. Though we know not everyone will understand, our therapist supports the idea along with our parents who are sad to miss us on the holiday but who get why its necessary. We have decided to go out of town together to have fun, focus on us, and try to forget about the sadness we carry with us every day for a little while. It will be strange to be absent from the traditional festivities, but I know I would not be able to feel peaceful and happy doing them this year and in turn would ruin the peace and happiness of those around me. And who wants either of those things?
We are leaving for Disney World tomorrow and staying through the 26th. I know Disney seems like an odd choice for people who are sensitive about babies and children and motherhood, but it actually makes perfect sense for us. For one, I don’t associate Disney with my childhood since I didn’t make my first visit there until I was 16 and since that is where Randy and I honeymooned. Also, while you see plenty of babies in Disney, it never looks like fun – taking babies to Disney World is a practice I’ll never understand. And above all, for us Disney is a place where we can go and be constantly entertained, not having to worry about the details of everyday life, enclosed for a few days in a magical fantasy bubble where people drive you around, sing and dance for you, bring you yummy food, and feel cool wearing hats no one would ever be caught dead wearing anywhere else on earth. We are ready to escape.