My family has a tradition of going around the dining table and telling everyone what we are thankful for. Not that I'm ungrateful, but this part of Thanksgiving has been a struggle for me since the day I learned of my infertility. Of course I was grateful for my family, my job, yadda yadda. But, all of that paled in comparison to the deeper feelings I carried inside me. Even hearing my parents say "I'm thankful for my three beautiful children" sent daggers into my heart. Silly, right? I mean, of course they're thankful for their children, and I wouldn't expect them to feel otherwise! But, just thinking that I might not ever get to say those words was enough to send me reeling internally.
And Christmas time... well, let's just say there are certain aspects of Christmas that made it difficult... namely Mary. Yeah, you heard me right - Mary, mother of Jesus. I mean, COME ON GOD! Mary can get pregnant and doesn't even have to bat an eyelash. No man needed. Just sit, get visited by an angel, BOOM - PREGNANT! If that's not enough to make an infertile woman cringe, I don't know what is.
I hid it well enough. I'd give my thanks and then settle right into normal dinnertime conversation; I'd go to church, or read the Christmas story, but under my skin I was crawling with resentfulness to God. Who does he think he is? Why did that girl in my dorm get pregnant and toss her newborn baby into the dumpster to die? What did I do to be cursed so bad?
There are plenty of women out there struggling this holiday season, in the same way that I struggled every holiday for the past ten years. It breaks me to think of that. I almost didn't post this blog, because so many of my "blog" friends are still living with the sting of infertility. And, I know how much it drove me CRAZY! to hear people try to cheer me up, or tell me their happy stories. Every so often, I would share my pain with people, and I would get told "you'll get your baby someday" or "It's all in God's hands" or "One day you will have quite a testimony." My mom was the worst offender. And everytime she made a comment like this it just made my skin crawl. I tried to explain to her why I didn't want to hear it. It's like going up to someone who's just taken a bullet to the gut and saying "Don't worry, one day you won't feel that pain anymore, and then you'll have quite a testimony." Yeah, great... ONE DAY... SOME DAY... those words do not heal the pain of TODAY... RIGHT NOW!!!! Every part of me was screaming in pain on the inside, but I had to smile and nod and go home in a foul mood.
I knew they were right. Obviously, the pain would go away once I was healed of my problem. Right? I wouldn't still ache the way I did to carry a child when I was holding one in my arms. Right?
Yes, and no. I've healed. I am able to look forward to holidays now, and I am happier than I've ever been. But, I'm forever changed by my experience with infertility. Every so often, those phantom pains strike me... not the "I want to be a mommy" pains. That wound is closed up, never to be opened again. But now, there is a strange pang of guilt where the pain used to be. I feel bad spreading my happiness around on the internet for people who are struggling like I was to see. I feel guilty that I ever harbored such resentment to God. I feel guilty that I felt so horrible on holidays that I was spending with people I love. I feel guilty that I was ever jealous of someone else's child/pregnancy. And, I feel guilty that those feelings creep in every so often still. Yes, I have a child who I love more than life itself. But, I am still infertile; I still can't get pregnant; I still have to jump through a million hoops to bring my daughter a brother or sister.
But, (and this is the part where you might want to stop reading if you don't want to hear a bunch of mooshy, gooshy thankfulness) my mom was right. And I knew she was, even then... I just couldn't deal with it then. I am grateful this year... for so many things.
- Meerkat -- How can I possibly express to you the thankfulness I feel for you? I've tried, on numerous occassions to put my love for you into words, but none of them can quite express the way I feel. I LOVE you! Don't ever ever doubt that for one second. You are the reason I'm baking this holiday season. You're the reason I want to get a real tree instead of our dollar store version. You're the reason I almost stood up in the church the other day to "give my testimony" (and believe me, that's saying something). You, my little fuzzy girl, are the reason that I'm smiling so big this year. I am more thankful for you than I know how to say.
- My husband -- Wow! I love you! You've been a rock for me to lean on so many times during our relationship. You've helped me get through some things that I know were even difficult for you to get through. I love the way you look at me. I love the way you speak to me. I love everything about you. You've given me so much joy these last several years. I can't imagine my life without you. There is no better husband on this planet, and I'm 100% sure of that. We don't fight. We have fun. We share so much love. You're the best father I've ever seen. You share in all the housework and duties. And, I know that this seems natural to you, but there are so many men who are not like you. I really found my hidden treasure when I found you.
- Infertility -- While I hate you, infertility. While I want to kick you in your no-no spot, I'm thankful for you this year. Without you, infertility, I wouldn't have my baby girl. And, if it took going through all that pain to get to this baby, I'd do it again 10,000,000,000 times.
- A -- You are so thoughtful. You've sent us pictures of Meerkat's half-brother and sister. You've kept in contact with us. You've given us the gift of parenthood. I am so very thankful for you this, and every, year. I hope that you are having a wonderful, peaceful Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. Our thoughts are constantly with you. <3
- Family -- I have a pretty unique family. They keep things interesting. I'm so grateful that I have them in my life. My brother, my sister, my mom, my grandma, my mother and father in-law, my brothers and sisters in-law, my nieces, my nephews -- I'm so grateful for you all. I love you with all of my heart. You make life enjoyable, just by being so dog-gone funny and sweet.
- Father -- this is a unique one, and he gets his own category. Dad, there are aspects of you and your life that I'm not thankful for, but you know that. It should come as no surprise to you that I'm angry for some of the things you've put our family through. But, I'm thankful this year. I am thankful that you are not drinking right now... and I hope that continues. I'm thankful that you have been being nice to mom... I'm thankful that you're getting to see your grandchildren. Please know somewhere in your heart that I'm thinking of you always. Yes, I'm mad at you. That won't change. But, I'm thankful you're my dad.
- The standards -- Job, health (when I'm in good health), and home. I'm very happy that I have all of these things. They sure do make life a lot more liveable. :)
Now, let's get these holidays started. I'm ready to make up for lost time!