Thanksgiving truly is my favorite day of the year, and not just for the good food. It is a reminder for me to sit back and reflect on what I have to be thankful for. To be honest, I don't do that enough on a regular basis - be thankful. I'm getting better at it, but it's a process when you suffer from infertility.
For many Americans, Thursday kicks off the best time of year. Everyone is happy. Families are gathering. Kids are gearing up for visits from Santa Claus. For infertiles, it's a giant reminder of how our bodies have failed us. When will I have a child sitting at the kiddie table? When will I get to make my baby's first stocking? When will I be the one standing in line at Toys R' Us at midnight for whatever the latest toy fad is?
Worse than the silent reminders are the vocal ones: the family members and friends who try to drill into your brain that this is a happy time of year. "Why aren't you happy, too? You have plenty to be thankful for!" Maybe we do, but let them try giving thanks after losing a child. Or after having an IVF cycle fail. Or after just passing another milestone childless - 2, 5, 8 years of trying. It's nearly impossible.
This is my fourth holiday season dealing with these emotions. It gets a tiny bit better every year, but I would in no way call it "easy." It just is. You learn ways to cope. Maybe your way is to avoid. Or to drink. Or take anxiety medication. Or go on vacation. (I've used three of these coping mechanisms. I'll let you guess which three). The point is, you learn how to make it through. Then, you take what worked and carry it over to the next year.
Frankly, it's bullshit. You used to love the holidays, and now you don't. You have to DVR everything because you need to fast forward through the stupid "baby's first Christmas" commercials. You do all of your shopping online so you don't have to deal with the holiday sections in your favorite stores. And Thanksgiving? Well, you can't even lie and say you're thankful for your health. You sure as hell aren't thankful for your reproductive health.
So on Thursday, in addition to giving thanks, I'll also be thinking of you: stuck in some awkward family gathering, with babies screaming all around you and no way to escape. You aren't alone. I'm there with you in spirit. Can you picture me? I'm holding your hand, reminding you to breathe, and passing you a glass of wine every time someone says, "Don't worry - you'll be next!"
Yeah, asshole. I've been next for THREE AND A HALF YEARS.
Happy Thanksgiving. I love you all.