The holidays are kind of a rough time for this infertile lady. It is a very child-centric, family-centric time. Christmas celebrates a virgin birth, a miracle baby--and when you have been toiling and suffering for your own very hard-earned pregnancy and that work is not paying off, it can be a little hard to take (so many songs about beloved babies!). The holidays start the annual influx of holiday cards, as well. I love getting everyone's cards. I love going to my mailbox and having it full of good wishes and glitter. I love displaying all this cheer in my home. I love seeing photos of my friends and family. It has gotten rather hard the last couple of Christmases to see card after card after card of everyone's new babies, everyone's expanding family. It's a bit like evidence that the world keeps on turning for what seems like everyone else, while Bryce and I are stuck in neutral, watching everyone else's families expand while we debate whether or not to add our pets to our card to flesh it out. It's all good and I do enjoy receiving these cards, it just means that the babies go on the bottom of my display so that they don't stare at me while I eat my dinner. I think the slightly more depressing thing is that there are fewer and fewer actual babies and more and more small children, which makes us feel more and more behind.
But, this post isn't about receiving holiday cards. It's about selecting them.
When we got married, we did the photo cards with pictures of our wedding on them. Why should the babymakers be the only ones to enjoy easy cards that you have printed, sign on the back, and mail out? But then the next year we couldn't really do wedding photos again, and we didn't have that baby yet or even a cute belly to display (tastefully). So our card was pictures of our Maine vacation, and we realized that we didn't have any pictures of the two of us that weren't those awful many-chinned-arm-held-out attempts, so there was just one tiny picture of the two of us together and the rest are us apart or scenic pictures. It worked, it was a little artsy, and I got my easy cards. And watched more baby cards pour in. I was so hoping that this year would have some kind of difference, but I found us once again looking to use our Maine pictures. We just have the one vacation, and we don't really have time, energy, or moolah to go anywhere else fun throughout the year. And we always forget our camera whenever we are gussied up (which isn't very frequently). I thought about having a photo shoot done, but then rethought it. I would love to pay for portraits by a talented friend when we are a little more celebratory, when we have a family event going on. I wanted to be extravagant and do a "just because" shoot as a treat, but then couldn't justify the cost (especially since I'm a bit bloated and doped up at the moment, and not feeling particularly attractive). We'll save that for bump-and-baby shoots. Then I thought, we'll just use a beautiful photo we have from three Maine trips ago, this one:
One of the reasons why it seemed depressing was because selecting cards from an online photo website is a special kind of torture when you are trying desperately to have a baby and that's eluding you. Almost every card is filled with babies, or families with three or four children (I hear three is the new two). People who are ridiculously fertile and have Top Ten lists about the tooth fairy and getting a new brother and loving first grade. Which is great, when that is your experience. When I read those options, all I could think was what we could put in for our top ten: Finally got that embryo quality under control! Got pregnant, but not robustly enough to truly enjoy it! Have extremely fertile tubes! Lost some weight when they removed that part of my body along with the pregnancy! Jess got a new job, thank goodness they are super compassionate because she needed the first week of school off to recuperate from surgery! Found our dog a new home, just didn't work out with everything else going on! And so on. And so forth. I even thought about putting a picture of our embryos up there (not seriously, but we did actually conceive 8 potentially viable embryos this year...too bad 6 of them so far have moved on to to the big petri dish in the sky instead of sticking to me...). While I consider our one lucky (and then massively unlucky) embryo that made it a few weeks into development our first, I don't think others would get my sense of humor on that front. Oh, and did I mention that the there are tons of options of cards meant to showcase your dog? Presumably for people who have furchildren. Couldn't do those either, as we weren't able to give our dog the home he needed in part due to our infertility circumstances. Awesome, no baby AND no dog. I had to give the card shopping a rest last night after I found myself giving the finger to all those lucky bastards flaunting their families, furry and otherwise, on my laptop screen. (Bryce points out that the barren tree actually looks like it's giving you the finger at the top if you look real close, which is awesome and one more reason to love the picture.) It made me want to spell out NOEL on the lawn with all our empty onesies I've collected over the past two years or so and underline the sentiment with sparkly syringes (again, that photo card probably wouldn't be ironically funny to anyone but us and maybe a select few fellow infertile friends...everyone else would probably think we need to seek some professional help).
So today Bryce decided we'd go out and take some pictures of ourselves, using our little digital camera, the gorilla tripod, and hopefully the kindness of a random stranger if needed. If we hated them I'd do the lit up barren tree. If we liked them, we'd have some nice pictures of us looking spiffy in oddly balmy late November and a photo card that doesn't make others uncomfortable. We headed out to Pittsford Village and actually had a blast finding weird places to find interesting backdrops, and met a lovely hippie-esque gentleman with a great sense of humor who volunteered to take a couple shots for us when we were obviously struggling with putting the camera on the gorilla tripod in a shrub to take our bench shots. Our Christmas cards are ordered and on their way to me to be addressed and sent out. They do not feature a single swaddled cat in a onesie. They are simple, and classy, and just show that we have fun together. We are a family of two. And while that can seem a little empty when we compare ourselves to those who have what we desperately want, it's not. We are happy. We are joyful. We are whole as we are, we just want to add to that joy in our household, not fill some hole where it doesn't exist. Maybe we are lucky bastards too, just minus the bundle. For now.