Christmas… a time of celebrating the birth of Jesus, giving and receiving gifts, spending quality time together as a family, eating copious amounts of delicious fattening food and beverages, enacting family traditions, a time of laughter, joy and being merry. This is the typical Christmas. But for me, a woman who has miscarried and currently travelling on the treacherous path of infertility, this Christmas was different… very different.
Rewinding back to last Christmas (2012), I remember purchasing many gifts for family members, fussing over what scrumptious food I was going to bake, and ensuring time was spent with both sides of our family. We spent Christmas Eve with my family who were camping at the river over the Christmas period. We enjoyed some delicious nibbles, some alcoholic beverages and a dip in the river. And of course we exchanged gifts. On Christmas Day, we spent time with Troy’s family- again enjoying a delicious home prepared lunch and exchanged gifts with each other, many of which were unnecessary materialistic commodities- which at the time I did not realise. How naïve I was back then.
This Christmas was very different, and I don’t know whether it will ever be the same for me again. We spent the morning with Troy’s family where I prepared many dishes for our hot lunch- consisting of glazed ham and a selection of flavoured vegetables, with dessert being a Berry Trifle. In the afternoon, we went to my parents house (who will be moving towns in the coming weeks) for drinks and nibbles. The whole day was an emotional time for me, and I fought back the emotions, knowing that none of these family members really recognised how tough such a joyous holiday occasion would be for us.
It all started in the lead up to Christmas. Shopping. In a huge shopping centre. All you could hear playing on their sound systems were Christmas Carols. Immediately, they made me feel glum. How was I meant to be happy and sing these Christmas carols, when our angel is not with us, and we have just FAILED our first IVF cycle due to my shocking egg count? Then I also had to face the influx of shoppers. Many of which were women shopping with their broods of kids. Yes, I could cope with that. But the thing that was extremely hard to cope with and made me feel like I’d been slapped across the face was the scenes of women threatening their kids and abusing them if they didn’t quit asking for stuff and stopped being naughty in the shopping centre. It was like a hole in my heart. How can these women act in this manner, when all I want is the glorious gift of being a MUM? Something that they honestly don’t treasure and value.
The emotions continued to play havoc. Instead of visiting Troy’s family like usual, we had to change our schedule of events again to cater for our emotions. Being around Troy’s brother and their new baby which was born around the same time as our angel SHOULD have been due was just too hard to fathom. They still have not recognised our miscarriage or said sorry.
We should be parents, celebrating our first Christmas together with our beautiful baby, but instead we are empty handed with heavy hearts. We didn’t even put up the Christmas Tree this year, give anyone gifts, as the expense of our cancelled IVF cycle has left our bank accounts empty. Not even each other. Our gift to each other will be trying another IVF cycle in January. It hurt that no family members recognised our angel on Christmas Day. We did receive a card from a friend I have made on the SANDS facebook group (which supports bereaved parents from Stillbirth and Miscarriage). It brought so many smiles to my face, the fact that SOMEBODY had taken the time to recognise how hard the Christmas period would be, having lost our angel earlier in the year. Of course other bereaved parents are the only ones who understand how hard it is!
Believe it or not, even preparing the food for Christmas even made me feel emotional. I remember as a child, each Christmas my mother would make us the most delicious trifle for our dessert. It was one of the things I most looked forward to at Christmas time. This Christmas, I decided I too would make a trifle for our Christmas dessert. Bad move. It left me yearning. For the gift of being a Mum. And being able to pass this tradition down to MY children. But no. No children were able to enjoy my delicious trifle. How I long to be able to pass these traditions down to my babies and make Christmas a special time for them.
The visit to my parents house in the afternoon was perhaps the hardest part about Christmas. My niece and nephew Keira and Kaiden were there. They are the most adorable children I know and I love them to pieces. They were the only people I bought gifts for this Christmas, as I wanted to make Christmas special for them as children. I remember how excited I was receiving gifts as a child, so I wanted to make sure they got spoilt, and felt the real magic of Christmas. They both opened their presents and adored them. Kaiden spent hours with his Uncle constructing his new marble run. Keira couldn’t wait to colour in her new backpack in readiness for Kindy next year.
The hard part came later on. We had decided after our cancelled IVF cycle that we would splurge out and have a few drinks with my family at Christmas. It fitted in well, considering they would soon be moving towns, so it was the perfect opportunity to relax and unwind and enjoy one last gathering together. We struggled. Neither of us have consumed alcohol in the 2 years we have been trying to conceive. Even after our cancelled IVF and looking so much forward to having a few drinks, it just felt wrong. I knew how big of an impact alcohol plays on fertility and couldn’t bare to think what one session of binge drinking was likely to do to my body. I have recently had severe endometriosis surgically removed which resulted in 3 laparoscopies, so was terrified that the alcohol might in fact trigger the endometriosis to grow back. I just didn’t enjoy the whole experience.
To make matters worse, I also experienced my first cycle post the cancelled IVF cycle. The clots (TMI) and severe cramps have left me worried that there is something wrong. It definitely is not like my normal cycle. I know that all the injections and hormones have probably made me extremely messed up, but I can’t help but think that the follicles have now formed into cysts (which I have read about) or the endometriosis is growing back. It has been going for 4 days now. I hope it settles down soon as we are wanting to start our next IVF cycle at the end of January.
Later into the evening, everyone started to feel the effects of drinking. More drinks were had, everyone started smoking like chimneys (everyone smoked except us), and everyone was having a merry time- except us. Here we were, left feeling disappointed with ourselves. Our family members could all smoke and drink however much they liked, and were still fertile and healthy. Discussions were based around my niece and nephew (who wouldn’t want to talk about them though- they are just so damn cute!) as they stole the limelight with their antics and stunts. They are just cute little people and made everyone laugh- including us! They have a fantastic way of brightening anyone’s day. But it still made me feel empty though, another reminder of what we are missing out on, and don’t have.
Christmas… a day of happiness for some, but we are just glad it is over. A day full of so many emotions. I wish I could go back to the time when I loved Christmas. There is probably only one thing that will make me enjoy Christmas again…..children.