This week marks the beginning of the 2016 holiday season. For many of us, this means time spent with family. Memories are often made over the sharing of a meal and laughter at the table. But this time is also a reminder of how another year has passed without a family of your own. Here, at The ART of Infertility, we wanted to take this week and reflect on the joys and pains that Thanksgiving brings. Today, we share some thoughts from Maria. Tomorrow, Elizabeth will offer her insights. And on Thursday, we offer some tips on how to survive the holidays while dealing with infertility and grieving loss. We hope that in sharing our stories you feel less alone this holiday season.
Infertility and the holidays are simply the worst. I wish that I had another phrase or expression to really represent the anxiety, frustration and sadness that comes with the holiday season when you are infertile. But, I don’t. All I can say is that infertility and the holidays are the worst. On a daily basis you are reminded – consciously and subconsciously that you are infertile. From the family Christmas cards arriving in your mail, to nativity scenes displayed around town celebrating immaculate conception, to even the holiday weight gain in which you may look like you are early in your pregnancy but really had a bit too many cookies and holiday punch. Infertility and the holidays are the worst.
And so, when the week of Thanksgiving begins, so do the daily reminders of infertility. On top of that, with Thanksgiving, there is extra pressure to give thanks.
Give thanks?!?! For what?! My body that refuses to become pregnant? The thousands of personal and professional decisions I have had to make because of my infertility? The baby that I still do not have? The reality that I may never be a mother, that my husband may never be a dad?
The list of questions could go on. But you all know – when you sit around the table and are going on year 2, 3, 4 even 6 or 7 of your infertility – it becomes harder and harder to find something you are genuinely thankful for.
Talking to Elizabeth recently about the reality that giving thanks is hard when you are infertile, I came to the realization that I do have a few things that I am thankful for. I am thankful that I am still married to my husband. Infertility has been hard on us as a couple. It has forced us to talk about a lot of things couples/partners who are fertile do not need to talk nor even think about.
And I am thankful that despite all of the challenges we have faced, that we decided we still wanted to be together. I am also thankful that I no longer feel that deep despair that I felt when initially diagnosed. You know, that feeling like you will always be crying, always be angry, never be able to smile at a young baby. I felt that way for a long, long time. And today, I am thankful that I allowed myself to feel those feelings and slowly get used to figuring out what it means to be infertile. Today, while it is still not easy to see a mom with her newborn or get a baby shower invitation in the mail, I am no longer angry or upset to the point where I feel like I can’t go on. I can. I have all of you – my fellow infertile warriors. And for that, I am thankful to know that I am not alone.