Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Holiday apprehensions - like everybody else

As many infertiles know the holidays are rough. This will be my third Christmas without any of my four babies. That's hard to type, let alone hard to think about.

Let's be honest, I white knuckle it through Thanksgiving and Christmas. I enjoy and look forward to time off work, that's the one thing I've got going for me. I get two weeks off at Christmas and everybody else at the company is also forced to take the time off, so I don't come back to a pile of work - ah Christmas! Ok, and I won't be so crass as to not mention the celebration of the birth of Jesus - hello, my Savior?! I'm very grateful for that (but sadly that too can be skewed in my heart, on a bad day ... because it's a baby's birth and removing the fact that He's God incarnate ... it's a bit taunting to think of another baby's birth.)

Oooh, I know I'm going to get knocked for that one. Moving right along ...

But I am overwhelmingly scared when I think about Christmas. I am fearful of ...

Family Engagements: and feeling like a failure. I know that with every birthday, holiday, anniversary, or seasonal change I experience the loss of not being able to enjoy the time with children that should have been. Because I am so open about my struggle I know that others are aware of how long it's been and I think that they must wonder how it feels to experience this pain ... that still hasn't ended. I think that makes them sad, and I carry that. I feel responsible for a piece of their sadness, like I cannot make it go away. Not only do I feel like a failure to myself and my husband, but I feel like I've let my family down as well. I have been and continue to be very open and honest about our struggle (for better or for worse) just about every person I know (some colleagues excluded) knows about our situation and that makes things very tricky. I don't regret telling people, I know that God has given me a gift of "revealing" being transparent in my struggles, and although the pain is great, the connection (when found) and the hope that someday because of my big mouth someone won't feel alienated or judged because of their infertility and miscarriages - that is what keeps me going, knowing that God is using me. But I won't say it isn't hard.

Quite Moments: You know, the down time between conversations that comes with family when you've spent too much time together. Berilac and I will likely visit a few sets of family this season. Like most families, you can count on most of the conversation being relatively superficial and lighthearted but when the conversationalists have exhausted all of the "interesting" topics, there's silence and an opportunity to 'check on the turkey', 'set the table', 'light a cousin's hair on fire' (whatever the case may be) and that's when I mentally and emotionally step back from the situation and take inventory. I seperate from the person who was just so funny and even transparent (if we'd been talking about the infertility) and I am left with myself. You know, like when you're in bed late at night or early in the morning and it's just you and God. You can't escape your situation, or hope that it's any better than it really is. It's a scary place and somehow these places pop up everywhere at family functions!

Receiving Children Filled Christmas Cards: Ok, let me start off by saying that anyone who reads this, who happen to send us Christmas cards, who happen to have children ... please know that I WANT YOUR CHRISTMAS CARDS, I repeat: I WANT YOUR CHRISTMAS CARDS AND ANNUAL FAMILY LETTERS! The thing that I do not want to be ... is handled. And I do not want to cry in a puddle when I'm having a bad day as a beautiful smiling (Christmas decor laden) family is staring back at me when I go to collect the mail. I love children. I love them. If you didn't already gather, the reason this blog exists, is because I have such a heart's desire for children - so don't misunderstand me. Somedays, when I see a certain card or picture or letter, it doesn't matter if it's aunt betty's step child that I've never met and her hubby, their two kids, and the mutt ... something triggers me and I can't predict it. When I do have those crying bouts the reason behind them is usually because I can't imagine sending a letter of my own (until God-willing we have a child someday) because the card, picture, letter if truthful would really be sad, like heartbreaking ... and I don't want my card to be pinned up with pity, I'd rather it not be there, and that makes me sad. In the past couple of years, some friends have suggested that we send out an update like "Berilac started his MBA this year!" or "We've moved!" which is true ... but my heart would break if I sent those because I would know that I'm lying. The only thing I know is being too honest and too direct - people either love me or hate me for it, but it is what it is. (Ok, so, try as I might ... I'm not convinced that those reading this blog who ordinarily send me family Christmas cards, in years past, will do so this year ... people, please send them! I really do want them!! I really don't want the enemy to win.)

Most of all, this year, I'm a little scared to decorate the Christmas tree: Sounds strange doesn't it? Well it's not. You see, this year Berilac and I decided to memorialize our four beautiful unborn babies with Christmas ornaments from Miscarriage Memories, we found them at the beginning of this year, we had them engraved, they (like our babies) are perfect.

This will be our first official outward symbol of grieving the losses. Of course, I want to memorialize my babies and I want to honor them each year remembering them at Christmas, I'm just sure that it's going to be a painful tree trimming at the Gamwich house this year. It will be sweet, bittersweet.

For me this Christmas is a time to remember what I have lost. I really am hopeful that this battle will come to a happy ending - someway, someday. This year I'm really thinking about my little ones. I'm not really focused on what 'might not ever be,' rather on what ... just isn't.

August 2006
February 2007
September 2007
January 2008


  1. Polly - I really appreciate what you wrote about the holidays. They are so hard to deal with when you are dealing with IF. I'm thinking of you. I think it's really nice that you are honoring your babies - I hope that it helps you with the grieving process.

  2. My first Christmas after we lost Gabriel (coincidentally also three Christmases ago), I bought a beautiful ornament that says, "You may miss me, but I'll be spending Christmas with Jesus this year." It has a special ornament stand and has a place of honor every year. This is our 4th Christmas trying for a child and it doesn't really get easier, especially with our most current loss as we'd hoped to have Levi....and all those Christmas outfits now have to be put away. *sniff* Ah, one of these days.....

    I feel your pain, Sista! I really do.

  3. I know this time of year is hard, and I struggle to find the perfect words to comfort you. I hope you find peace over the next few weeks. {{hugs}}

  4. I hope the quiet moments are minimal, and the Christmas card induced tears are as well.


  5. I am so sorry for your losses. Even though I haven't experienced a m/c myself, I consider all of my embryos that didn't make it or are discarded losses as well. I know it's not the same as your losses, but know that I am truly sorry for the pain that you've endured. One day, hopefully, we will all meet the children that we've lost on earth. *hugs*

  6. Polly, Thanks for commenting on my blog. I am in the south bay too - and would love to meet up if you want to!

    I've been reading your blog recently, and I wanted to say how sorry I am for your losses.

    Good luck with your decisions and your next steps. I will add your blog to my list so I can follow your journey closely.

  7. I truly appreciate what you wrote, I find it some what comforting that us IFs feel the same way about certain situtations. You took the words out of my head about the Christmas cards and the family engagements. The ornaments are very touching. I hope you don't mind if I link to your blog. I could never express these feelings as well as you do.

  8. Oh Gosh, Polly! I'm just in tears. Can I come over and give you a hug?? I'm so sorry for what you've been through. If I could take away all the pain, I really would, my dear friend.

    I love the ornaments. They're just so beautiful and really so poignant.

    I hope by next Christmas, I'll receive a Christmas card from you, with a picture of your baby, you and Berilac.

    Huge hugs, my dear friend.


  9. You stated perfectly so much of what I feel! I, too, LOVE children and love being around them and being included in their family's lives. But, at the same time, the grief comes out and, again, as you said, I sometimes cannot predict when or where it will happen.

    Big hugs to you and all of us who will struggle through another holiday season.

  10. Polly, thank you so much for sharing your heart and honest feelings. I really relate to the moments that we are just left with our own thoughts. I find those even harder than the rude comments from others.

    I have never experienced a loss and can't even pretend to know how difficult that is. The ornaments you picked to memorialize your babies are truly beautiful. I pray that the ornament you add to your tree next year is "Baby's 1st Christmas". Huge hugs to you.

  11. Oh friend, I am so sorry. My heart breaks for you. This journey has been so long and I hope it comes to an end very soon. My prayer is that you'll find peace this holiday season -- peace that passes understanding. Let God do a miracle for you and you'll sit back, scratch your head and think, "Huh. I usually feel really crappy right about now, but I'm actually doing OK!"

    I hope our little hooligans bring you joy at our HOP dinner and that they encourage you by just being there with you.

    You are precious to me my friend, and I love you dearly.

  12. Girlfriend - you've hit the nail on the head. The holidays are tough for us infertiles. But, I'd rather get through the bouts of tears than to be excluded...

    I think the ornaments are beautiful. They are a perfect way to memorialize your babies. I am sorry that there is a need for them.

    Here's to 2009 being a better year for us all.

  13. Oh Polly, I too feel the same way about the holidays, in fact, i was just creating a post about them myself. I am scared to death of them this year. My beta is scheduled for Thanksgiving. And I just know that it will be the absolute worst or best thanksgiving ever. I hope one day I get to the point where I can love holidays again. But I fear that will only happen, if I make it to the other side of this battle. And if I never do, I don't know how i will face them ever again.

  14. Polly, I feel this with you and am sending you hugs xx

  15. Those Christmas ornaments are such a beautiful symbol to honor your babies with. I'm so sorry about your losses.

  16. First of all I love the ornaments, they are beautiful.

    I love reading your posts because they sound like me when I discuss our infertility with anyone, or sometimes when I get extremely personal talking to God about our struggles.

    This post made my heart break ... and reminded me of all the Christmas' that caused me so much pain. Christmas always marks another year without a child ... I don't think there is anyway to get around it when you are struggling with infertility. It was always the holiday that I felt like a disaster.

    I told my husband last year there was no way I could go through another Christmas without a child. I knew I would break in pieces. literally. Luckily God blessed us at Thanksgiving with two children (that were not biological). And I have learned that He is our keeper. And I put my faith in Him.

  17. I find the holidays to be VERY difficult to deal with. I'm not a fan for too many reasons to cover here. I think honoring your babies is very sweet and I hope it brings you some peace.

  18. Polly - all your comments echoed in my heart. This is a tough time of year, especially since it revolves around the birth of a child - I end up crying my way through midnight mass every year now.
    I love your tree decorations though - they are just beautiful, and what a wonderful way to honour your angel babies, and include them in your family Christmas.
    Hugs to you and Berilac