Christmas week is here, and it's a week that's notoriously difficulty for those in the ALI community.
Mother's Day. Father's Day. Halloween. Thanksgiving. They are tough days to face when you are wishing and hoping for a little one. All of these occasions were difficult for me, but none ever compared to Christmas. I'm not sure why. It could be because it was the end of a busy holiday season -- a three-month momentum built up to this day that was all about children. It could be because I typically enjoyed celebrating Christmas and then, suddenly, it became a reminder of everything that I couldn't have or be.
Whatever the case, it served as an emotional day for me for four years. Infertility sucked the "cheer" out of the holidays. I coped in various ways, some of which were healthy and some of which were not. In fact, one year, we didn't even attend any Christmas events. We bought tickets to a basketball game, instead, and spent the day drinking beer and eating nachos while watching the Orlando Magic.
Last year, my first year as a parent, was surreal. I didn't exactly feel like I was fully re-immersed in the Christmas spirit. We were not too far removed from bringing K home from the NICU (just four months), and likewise not far removed from our battle to become parents. I felt like an imposter. Surely, these gifts under the Christmas tree weren't for MY baby, were they? I couldn't possibly need to buy a "Baby's First Christmas" onesie for MY child, could I? But those gifts were for my baby and I did buy (more than one) "Baby's First Christmas" outfit. It wasn't a dream. It was reality -- a reality that I waited four, long years for.
Now, here we are: one year later.
This year, I feel less like an imposter and more in the Christmas spirit than I have in quite a long time. Some of it has to do with having more distance between the hell that was the first half of last year and now. The rest of it I think is related to my child's age and the fact that Christmas can now be an interactive holiday for her. However, this doesn't mean that I've forgotten what this holiday holds for others in this community -- because some of it is what I've lived in years past. It's not a day that is joyous for everyone.
In the ALI community alone, I know that there are those of you who are still waiting on your bundles of joy. I know others who are anxious for their adoption finalizations. My sweet friend who gave birth to twins at 24 weeks will be spending Christmas in the NICU, an experience that no mother should ever endure. And, of course, there are those whose children never lived to see their first Christmas.
I'm not a prayerful person, or at least not as much as I used to be. Yet, during the holiday season, I always prayed for a Christmas miracle. For four years, I asked for the miracle of becoming a parent. Now that I've received that miracle, I haven't stopped praying for more Christmas miracles. Not for more children for me, but for each of you. I pray that maybe, by this time next year, you will have the experience of feeling like an imposter, too. I hope that you will know what it's like to wrap gifts for your little one. I wish for you to buy at least one "Baby's First Christmas" outfit or stand in long lines to meet Santa.
Most of all, I pray you find resolution in whatever path you choose -- and that you once again find joy in the holiday season. It may seem impossible now. I know this, having been there and felt that overwhelming sense of despair. But I can assure you from someone who has now lived to see the other side of it: rediscovering that joy is possible.