Recently, one of those ‘Memories’ posts popped up on my Facebook: “On this day seven years ago, I was excited about Christmas and what the coming year would bring.” Wow!
For anyone that knows me now, they would question “have I ever been excited about Christmas?” I am somewhat of a Christmas grinch. I despise Christmas. A lot of people ask me why and I have always found it difficult to answer.
This memory on Facebook made me realise this is not what I have always been. I have not always hated the Christmas season. I have grown to hate it. What happened to that excited young woman from seven years ago? The one who was filled with joy at the thought of Christmas and most importantly excited at the prospect that the following year might bring the new baby our hearts desired.
Seven years ago was our first Christmas as a married couple, we had started trying for a baby and were about to move into our new 'family home'. We were blissfully consumed by dreams of future Christmases filled with laughter, love and excited children tearing open presents, dreams of the rooms of our new home filled with our family. We thought it was a very real possibility that within the following year we would have a baby in our arms.
Fast forward seven years. Christmas after Christmas our hopes have been dashed. Christmas wishes time and time again did not come true. Slowly and surely Christmas became less exciting. The gleeful aura that surrounds the month of December diminished. How could it be possible that we were disappointed year after year?
How do you answer the question of "What do you want for Christmas?" when what you truly want can't be purchased in a shop? How do you find a way to put a smile on your face when you want to cry inside? How do you go to the shops filled with happy excited children when you have so much trouble even imagining that this may one day be your child sitting on Santa's knee having their photo taken? How do you buy gifts for the ever increasing amount of friends' babies, nieces and nephews when you feel you should be buying something for your own child?
The first few years I would buy things I liked for our future baby, small toys and outfits I fancied and imagined our child wearing. Now these things bring nothing but pain and I've started to give them away to friends and family.
Christmas is brimming with parties full of prying people. People who don't care to see you throughout the year but insist on it at Christmas time. They ask questions about why you aren't drinking and imply that perhaps you're pregnant. But in reality you're doing another round of fertility treatment and living in a constant state of "what if?", losing hope that the drugs will ever work.
When we reluctantly put up our Christmas tree we should have 'baby's first Christmas' decorations or lovingly homemade items, instead we have one ornament remembering our lost baby, remembered only by us.
At Christmas when we are surrounded by family, especially our ageing grandparents, I can't help but wonder if they will be there the following year or however many years it may take to meet our child. I have said goodbye to three grandparents in the time we have been trying. I hope the precious ones that are left will get to meet their great-grandchild.
Now Christmas for me is a reminder of another year passed, another year where we are again childless. Another year that our hopes have been dashed and life has disappointed. Christmas stings. I wish it didn't but it does.
Hopefully one day it won't, hopefully one day I will again be excited about the coming year ahead and no longer longing for that emptiness to be filled in my heart.
For those out there that find this time of year difficult know you are not alone.