Sunday, November 25, 2012

Being Thankful

Bryce, Jess, and the Thanksgiving spread (all GF!)...
and not a small selection of booze behind us.
Happy belated Thanksgiving to everyone! The holidays are upon us and it is a mixed bag. I have been lax in my bloggy duties (both posting and commenting, but I am trying to catch up) because I hosted a family Thanksgiving and had family in from out of town, which required a lot of preparation and very little downtime. But I've had this post brewing in my head for days if not more, and I need to release it from my subconscious.

My mom is taking the picture. It's a nice full table,
just no kids running around.
The holidays are a funny time for me as an infertile woman, for us as an infertile couple. It is a time to be thankful for all that we have, but it is also a time when the baby-sized hole in our lives is painfully present. There is no kids table at our Thanksgiving. We do not have grandchildren to help entertain visiting parents or add that extra layer of joy and laughter to our home. We have cats, who are very snuggly and affectionate but just not quite the same as a cooing baby or a giggling toddler. I can make a kick-ass Thanksgiving spread and have food to feed many more people than actually were in our home, but I can't make a baby (yet). It's a lot to take in.

This is made even more bittersweet by my emotionally abusive relationship with Facebook. Facebook, you bring me flowers when you catch me up with friends I haven't seen in a while, but then you call me barren and empty when you scroll me through page after page of baby photos and ultrasound photos and bump photos and evidence of everything everyone else is so thankful for that we can only dream of at this point. I am happy for the new and burgeoning families out there, happy for Christmas crafts and milestone onesies and first cupcakes and first turkey and hospital photos and family portraits that will no doubt decorate the onslaught of baby-splattered Christmas cards we are about to receive. Your joy is palpable and I am happy for those who have this--either easily or hard-won through battles like mine. Many of the babies and small children I see online were born not of candlelit evenings or liquor-induced whoopsies but of injections and waiting for nurse calls. They are families born through birth mother sacrifice and joyous airplane days, not joyous pee stick bathroom moments that are immediately shared as though tragedy is something you hear about, not something you experience. I don't begrudge anyone their family, but I especially don't begrudge the ones that are happy endings to arduous journeys. It's just incredibly hard to see everyone's miracles when ours are so short-lived. It leaves us feeling very alone.

But we're not alone--we have each other. We share a relationship made stronger through all this unfairness. We have families who fill our table at Thanksgiving. We have friends who care about us and cheer us on. We know this, but it is hard not to feel sorry for ourselves when evidence that we have been left behind (sometimes two or three times over) when it comes to extending our family is all around us--on Facebook, via email updates, via the families (with mommies and daddies 10 years younger than us) that inevitably sit at the tables next to us at the diner...everywhere. Everywhere but car seats in the back of our cars or cribs in the little room that will someday have small people rifling through the picture books, not a sad 36 year old lady with no one to read bedtime stories to. (Again, unless you count the cats, and I haven't quite traveled down that road yet.)

So while a holiday entirely centered on giving thanks and sharing with family can be difficult for us as we mourn the chances that ended poorly and our continued childless state, it is nice to reflect on what we are thankful for. There is actually a lot, even though there is a gaping chasm of nothingness where what we would love to be most thankful for is missing. But there is a lot to be thankful for.

- Each other. I am lucky to have the love I share with my husband. We are truly a team, and a kickass family of two.
- Our families. They show their support in different ways, but they are incredibly supportive and want to see us happy.
- Our friends. We are grateful for the people who cheer us on when we're ramping up, who ask us how we're doing, and who mourn with us when the tide turns tragic. People who will see silly movies and go for walks and listen.
- That we have the ability to pay for fertility treatment without a huge amount of sacrifice. Don't get me wrong, it's hard to shell out the tens of thousands of dollars and see no return, and we have sacrificed a lot and feel financially shackled to the sharps containers, but we aren't racking up debt in this quest and we aren't facing really, really tough decisions when it comes to what we must give up in order to pay for the opportunity to expand our family. We have worked very hard to be in this spot, and we do stress about coming up with the large sums of money all at once, but we are grateful that we can afford treatment. Others are not as fortunate.
- That I can make an (if I do say so myself) amazing Thanksgiving dinner and share it with others. I am thankful for my gorgeous turkey, which was my best yet this year.
- That somehow I can keep trudging through this incredibly difficult time in our lives and not totally lose it. I am definitely at a breaking point, but I am not broken. I am sad almost all of the time but am able to function and do well at my job and separate that out. Infertility has not quite destroyed my spirit, and I will keep fighting to keep it from doing that. It's trying incredibly hard, but we still have enough hope to stave off the attacks and keep them from doing permanent damage.
- Our kitties. They are not children, but they are part of our family and they bring us so much joy. You can't be sad for long when a soft, fuzzy kitty nuzzles your neck and settles into your lap for a purry snooze.

There. I am sad, and I am frustrated by the fact that we are still on this ride with a ways to go before we have the chance to photograph our own "My First Thanksgiving" bundle, but we have a lot to be grateful for. And a lot to look forward to. Someday.

Me, my mom, and my grandma. I would love to add a fourth
generation to this picture next year...

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