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Thursday, December 17, 2009

the christmas elephant

Last year was our first year as a married couple and, naturally, we decided to send out personalized Christmas cards to all of our friends and family members. It was tough work, but I hand wrote almost 50 cards and managed to send them out before the holidays.

This year, I wanted to do the more "modern" tradition of sending out a photo card. It would have cost us more money, but I knew it was a lot less time consuming. But when the day rolled around when Joey and I were supposed to take our picture in front of the Christmas tree, I couldn't go through with it. I couldn't bear sending out 50 cards with our "family" photo on it with a tiny little version of ourselves missing from that image. I knew my smile for the photo would be forced and sad. I knew that I would probably sob while addressing the envelopes. I knew I couldn't ignore the giant elephant in the room. So I just didn't do it.

Then I thought, "Well maybe I will do a letter with photos of us from this year and send it via e-mail." But what would I write?

2009 was an awesome year. Joey got laid off from his job and was out of work for six months. His grandpa died suddenly. We were so broke from Joey being out of work for six months that we had to move in with family. Oh, and I have a uterus that doesn't work. Merry effing Christmas!

That's the kind of holiday greeting everyone wants to get in the mail.

So I've decided: There will be no cards sent from our house this year. The emptiness is too strong to ignore. It was impossible for me to recap the year without mentioning the elephant. It would be as though I was lying to myself and to everyone who knows what we are going through, and I don't want to do that. I have acknowledged it up to this point, and I have to continue. I've paraded the elephant around the circus ring from the very beginning, and there is no way I can hide behind it now.

I can't pretend this is just going to go away, and I have stopped being shy about it. When people ask me when I plan on having kids, I just answer, "I can't." There are times when I'm tempted to just put up a status on Facebook announcing I'm infertile so people will just leave me the hell alone. While I'm at it, I might put up a sign over my desk and with a bumper sticker on my car. Being open about it is what has gotten me through to this point, but sending a letter without acknowledging this year's failures makes me feel like a complete fraud.

On second thought, maybe I will send out Christmas cards this year. I'll sign them:

Your Favorite Infertile Couple!

And next to our signatures, I'll put a tiny sticker of an elephant--the pet I've embraced but now just wish I could set free.


Bean stalk ballads said...

Oh katie...
my heart goes out to you on this one. Christmas cards are a bitch arent they,,, and if your honest you dont want to hide that pachiderm in your lounge room.

I am not sending any either this year... so I will be right alongside you in solidarity..

Jessica said...

You always seem to take the words right out of my mouth. We didn't send out Christmas card for the same reason...Hey here we are NOT pregnant and WITHOUT children STILL!! You are not alone in this.

Jin said...

Ditto. It's the reason why we didn't send any either.

And you dont know how many times I've sat there with the facebook app up on my phone just ready to post a status about IF.

Al said...

This is the same reason we didn't send any. So many people know that sending a "happy" card would have seemed completely fake. So I just skipped it this year. I hope next year we will both have a much different story to tell.

Tina said...

I have no comforting words, but I wanted you to know that you're in my thoughts. And I do hope you have a different story to tell next year.

Astrid said...

This is certainly a post I can relate to. My year's summary would sound pretty awful too. Funny idea though - kind of dark funny. I don't think I will ever send out a xmas card or hang xmas lights or get a tree unless and until we have a baby. And I LOVE christmas decorations. I just don't feel like it's appropriate yet. Like my life isn't whole. Like I don't deserve to fully enjoy the christmas season until I achieve motherhood.

A said...

I totally know how you are feeling. I did send out cards, but real Christmas cards, not the picture ones. I was thinking the other day that the picture ones really annoy me because other than whatever the 3-word phrase ("Joy Peace Love"), all the picture says is "look at me!", nothing about heartfelt Christmas blessings, wishes, etc.

I have already told Mr. A that even when (WHEN) we do have kids, there will be no picture cards from this house. Maybe a picture IN the card, but you better believe after praying for life for so long, the focus of our Christmas greetings will always be to praise God for His ultimate gift of life...

Nicole said...

I decided a few years ago to start answering those nosy questions from strangers or acquaintances with, "Well, actually, we're completely infertile." And it's SOO liberating! I love seeing their I'm-such-a-jerk expression after they just probed into a very sore subject. I'm glad you do it too, but maybe try adding a little more, I dunno, 'attitude' so they're sure to feel badly. Anyone who needs to or should know already does, so when someone asks they obviously are overstepping their info bounds. We also have not done holiday cards ever for this very reason (this will be our 5th married holiday). Next year though!! You too!! :)

Kelly said...

I agree with every word you said. Know that you aren't alone and I'm here if you need me. ((hugs))

Nixy said...

You are certainly not alone. I even got cards, and they are sitting on my shelf, but I can't bring myself to do them. So I'll probably just pack them up for another year.

Erin said...

I did cards this year, but it was sad for me. I hated having every saying how cute my dogs were, and then receiving dozens of cards with baby photos on them.

Also, I frequently post infertility statuses on Facebook. It does wonders to shut rude people up.

2catdaughters said...

Katie, I'm sorry. I hate that elephant, too. I'm sending out cards only because I like to show off how great I am at making them. :) I always sign them from me, J, and our two cats. However, this year I'm thinking about adding a "p.s. I'm not pregnant so don't ask."

Hang in there. ((hugs))

JC said...

I don't send them out either, for the same reason. You are not alone, many((hugs)).

nicolemarie said...

I wrote out Christmas cards before the breakup, and can't bring myself to send them. I could easily white-out his name and make them from me alone, but why pretend like I'm enjoying Christmas this year when I'm not? You have every right to be bitter... I'm thinking about you. Here's to being a Grinch!


Katie said...

I'm so sorry. ((hugs))

Side note--I'm fairly convinced the majority of people send cards for only one of two reasons:

1--to show off their offspring

2--b/c they would feel guilty if they didn't send a card, for some reason.

I? Am totally category #2.

Elizabeth said...

I have joined Resolve's fan page and the Resolve group which show on my FB page now. I'm hoping that gets people to realize what I'm going through.

I don't blame you for not doing cards. It was tough for me to do this year too. For almost everyone I just signed "hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a very happy new year." I can't bring myself to add a personal note.

I'm seriously considering virtual cards next year!

i_c_thru_u said...

I think I sent Christmas cards out the very first year we were married. It was only 4 months after we got married so I didn't feel as much of an expectation to be announcing anything (even though everyone was asking when to be planning for baby showers by Thanksgiving). But now it's just entirely too depressing. And yeah, I'm sorry but especially if I'm Facebook friends with people who still send me the photo card of their kids with nothing more than a "Merry Christmas" written on it, well thanks but I already see the daily pictures you post of your kids on Facebook. I don't need the awkwardness of deciding if I'm supposed to keep the stupid thing of if I'm being mean by pitching them.

***hugs*** I'm sorry honey. I can only hope 2010 brings better news for all of us.

Willow said...

This year, every single Christmas card we've gotten has featured kids, so many more little ones than in previous years, and every time one arrives I say to my husband how glad I am that we adopted this year because I know how horribly this card trend would hurt otherwise. For the past few years, our cards have featured us on our travels, and I was proud of the jetsetting couple we were, but thinking of them now makes me sad. The last three Christmases of sending travel photo-bedecked cards and writing about masters' graduations and career accomplishments, our new home and new puppy, were years when I was lying about the biggest things in our life--starting to try, suffering a miscarriage, fearing we would never be parents. Of course these aren't the things you put on holiday cards. And there were good things happening in our lives too, and writing about those was no lie. But I wish it wasn't so hard to share something so important.

I wish you joy this holiday season, and I hope that the next time you want to send holiday cards that you feel able to do it. I don't think baby pictures should be the only ones that make it onto holiday cards. Yes, I am thrilled to have our little guy on our card this year, but I'm proud of our old cards too. They showed our life as it was then--the good parts of it, at least. They're nice reminders that there WERE good parts, even when we were longing for a baby.