Posts Tagged ‘christmas’

“Our First Christmas” by Cindy

I really want to write a more detailed update about our family’s transition, but for now, I want to say a few words about Christmas.

Leading up to the holiday, John and I struggled to respond to the, “you must be so excited about your first Christmas as a family” comments. Excited wasn’t exactly how we were feeling. Fucking terrified might be a bit closer.

Christmas is a loaded time of year for most people. Consider what it means for kids dealing with the loss of loved ones. This was the first year they weren’t going to see people they loved from their past. This was their first year with a new family with new traditions and rules. They didn’t know what to expect, and even when they were having fun, they had to wrestle with feelings of guilt for betraying the loved ones they have lost. We knew that no matter what we did, the holiday just wouldn’t feel quite right for these kids, so we tried not to overload ourselves with expectations. We anticipated supporting our daughter through some rough emotions, and we knew that the young lad would likely also feel that there was something missing but be unable to tell us what it was.

On our side, we wanted to carefully consider what traditions we wanted to continue and start. Yes, there were too many presents under the tree. My bad. (I don’t really feel bad about that). We also wanted to visit our extended family because that is part of what Christmas is for us, and we wanted the kids to know how many people love them, but we were worried that it might prove overwhelming for all of us. In the end, we decided to risk it. This way, we thought, they would know what to expect next year, and maybe going through the tough stuff this year would make it easier for next year (just ignore those more experienced parents laughing in the background). Basically, we wanted to embrace the magic and fun of the season without overloading our kids. We tried to keep the excitement calm, as much as possible.

Now that we are back home and settling into our home routines, and recovering from my brutal Christmas cold and John’s bout with a Christmas flu, we are feeling like we did OK. Our families were wonderfully understanding, and the kids had a good time visiting, ate delicious food, and got more presents than they needed. Yes, there were some tears that needed to come out from time to time, but I think we managed to use those moments for building attachment.

It was also kind of exhausting. At this stage of attachment-building, we have to maintain a level of vigilance that other parents do not. As my mother-in-law pointed out, it’s a little like having a newborn. You can do whatever you want, but you will deal with the consequences. Leave the child with someone for a night out, and you can expect some readjusting time when you get back. Give the child access to too much sugar, and clean up the vomit from the sink at 10 p.m.

We are still new parents. We are still learning how to adjust to our new life roles, and, like most new parents, we are grieving the loss of who we used to be. We also grieve for our children’s pain. It’s not fair that these kids had to go through what they had to go through in order for them to come to us, and even though we are so happy they are our kids, we are sad that they and their family had to experience such loss in order for that to happen.

But, we cannot change the past, so we focus on what we can do today and tomorrow (next week is way too far ahead for me to think about, but you can talk to John about that), and we just keep doing the best we can, learning, and then doing better. We think.

More on that one later.

So, with careful planning, a little calm excitement, and some super supportive family members, Christmas was filled with wonderful moments, and I hope that is what our children will remember.


The aftermath… I sort of feel like this – a partially-controlled and somewhat satisfying mess.


“Ups and Downs” by Cindy

I’ve had a couple of tough days this week.  I’m not sure why exactly, but this infertility grief seems to well up out of nowhere from time to time. Sometimes, it will seem like a series of triggers, sometimes it is one trigger, and sometimes, I bang my hand on something and I just can’t hold it in any longer.

I know – I’m not supposed to try and hold it in all the time.  I need to acknowledge my feelings and blah blah blah.  (yes, I really do teach this stuff).  But how do I acknowledge my feelings and also play a constructive role in my life?  We’ve got a lot going on right now, what with buying a house and moving to a community where we don’t know anyone, so it’s pretty hard to deal with these feelings and also figure out the logistics of our new life and get to know our new town.

“Hi, nice to meet you. Sorry if I don’t smile much. I’m not feeling great today – I’m sad about the fact that we can’t have children and my heart feels like it is breaking as I am standing here talking to you.”

Not exactly high on the “how to make friends” list.  I don’t want to be the weird lady who is always talking about her pain.  That’s what blogs are for, right? (honestly, it’s not, I really intend to write about other things as well, I just find that writing helps me process, and I’m still processing this a lot)

I was so looking forward to meeting new people, but I am still kind of shy. I don’t like being the only person in the room who doesn’t know somebody unless I have a very clear role to play (I know – there is a solution in that statement – I will think on that later). Despite my shyness, I love parties with people I know. I miss university for that so much these days, because back then, we were all in the same stage. I miss going out with friends – the lead up, the adventure, the recovery. I miss living overseas with expats who are always ready to party. That doesn’t happen anymore. I know that there were times when I felt lonely those days as well, but the parties were definitely fun, and I didn’t feel like an outsider. I honestly don’t know what the my age and life stage (which is completely incongruent with my peer group) equivalent of the university kegger is. I’m open to suggestions here.

The other thing I am finding with meeting new people, is that I have this internal dread over when the children question will come up and how I will respond.

One of our movers, perhaps in a misguided attempt to elicit a tip from me, very proudly started telling me about being a single father of 5 children and already having 3 or 7 grandchildren. I nodded and said, “wow”, or something, but I didn’t smile. I used to say things like, “Good for you,” but if having children is an accomplishment, then not having children is a failure, and even though that is often how I feel, part of me rejects that concept entirely now.  (here’s a good blog on this: Later on, I thought, I should have just said, “That’s nice. We can’t have children, and we are really sad about it.”

This is essentially how we responded when a friend’s young child asked why we didn’t have children. Well, that’s what John said. I had a lump the size of Newark in my throat.  (I actually have no idea how big Newark is, it just sounded right for that sentence for absolutely no reason). In that moment, it seemed absolutely the right response. Her parents weren’t the type to sugarcoat reality, and I appreciated that they trusted us to give a response and be honest. I aspire to be able to say that sentence aloud to someone without tearing up.

So, on the one hand, I want to be open and honest with everyone I meet. On the other hand, I don’t want to come across as weird and make people uncomfortable (well – maybe I’m a little curious to see how people would respond, in a slightly evil social scientist kind of way, but again, unleashing that alter ego is probably not the best way to make friends).

Something interesting came up in John’s new enterprise this week. Basically, it had to do with recognizing what people it makes sense to spend more time networking with. Something about apples.  Anyway, what hit me is that I am not a ‘yes’ person, but I want to be. I want to be the person that says “yes” when a friend calls up and says, “Hey, want to try this?”  I also want to spend more time with people who are ‘yes’ people. I want to be a positive, energetic influence on people.

My ability to do this is hampered by two things: my personality and my mood. I’ve never been very effusive (there is a blog in my archives about that somewhere), and It’s just so damn hard to project positive energy when I feel so dark. So when I feel this way, my instinct is to hide away and try not to influence people with my negative feelings.

It is just possible that I have an elevated sense of my power over other people’s feelings. Or is it that I am so easily influenced by other people’s feelings that I believe everyone else is as well? Either way, I do not want to be an energy vampire (I do warn people away from those in my classes), AND I want to be authentic. Tricky.

I found this blog today, too: “We Don’t Heal from Suffering, We’re Changed by It“.  Comma splice aside, this resonated with me, and the comments from readers acknowledging their changes and their anger about those changes helped me realize that maybe it’s OK that I’m not OK, yet. It is going to take some time to figure things out.

And, boy, are there are lot of triggers out there. Sometimes, it is just unbelievable. That seemingly innocuous rom-com we borrowed from the library has a couple struggling with infertility in it. A main character in the show we just started watching has a botched abortion leading to a hysterectomy.

And… the holidays are upon us. It’s that time of year that the family is most celebrated. Y-ay.

Actually, I love Christmas. I love the holiday spirit and Christmas trees and singing Christmas carols and trying to find the perfect gifts for loved ones and eating good food and getting together. I just don’t know how I am going to handle being around children this year. I love children. Sometimes, I even find it healing to play with them and then run away when it’s time to change diapers. Other times, I feel angry when parents think I am incapable of changing diapers.

I want it to be great. I really really do. I want to enjoy children for the amazing beings they are and all they can teach us, but holy shitballs, does that hurt. I want to get lovely presents for all the children in our lives who we love, but at the same time, part of me feels resentful about buying presents for other people’s kids. I don’t feel good about that, but I do. Part of me thinks we should save that money and go to Mexico (not that we are that extravagant in our gifts, but over time, that would add up).

It also turns out that there is a downside to sharing all I have shared about our experience – everyone knows. As much as I wish to avoid unconsciously insensitive comments, I also don’t want people feeling like they have to be careful in interacting with me.

There is going to be a new baby around this year, and I am excited to meet her. I am also probably going to cry. Because you know – baby smell. I cry just thinking about that smell. I don’t want meeting this baby to be strange for her parents, but I also don’t know how to make that not strange. They know our story. They know I know they know. So… yeah.

Maybe, if I can just cry enough before the holidays, I won’t have any tears left…

That was only a semi-serious suggestion. I couldn’t think of anything else to write after that, but I didn’t want to end the post on such a melancholy note, so here is a picture I took in Lake Louise and edited to make it look like a fairyland. That seems hopeful to me somehow.

surreal mountain mist (1 of 1)