Monday, January 10, 2011

My Infertile Holidays

I REALLY wish I had been IF blogging during the holiday season.  I could have used the support of other infertile, encouraging, prayerful, bitter, optimistic, jealous, confused, supportive ladies.

Let me give you a little preface of what I was getting myself into.  I've been dealing with IF for 4 years.  In that time I've had two relatives get pregnant out of wedlock.  I admit, I have handled both situations in less than a Christ-like manner.  I have responded with bitterness, jealousy, and abandonment.  I've gone through the spectrum of emotions: "It's not 'fair,'" "Why bother doing things the 'right' way?  It doesn't matter anyway," I'm sure you all get the point.  I stopped praying.  It seemed futile.  I'm still not in the best place spiritually.  But somehow I'm still completely faithful to my Church and its teachings and know that its way is the right way.  I know in my heart that things are happening according to God's plan.  I do.  It's just hard to remember sometimes.

In one situation (baby #1), the couple was living together and likely to get married in the future.  The woman (who is married into the family) is someone I love like a sister and get along with really well.  We don't have a lot of deep, important issues in common, but our personalities click and I'm so happy to have her in the family (they have since gotten married by the Justice of the Peace).  The couple is not Catholic (he was raised but is not practicing...she was not raised Catholic) and they were actually trying to get pregnant.  It wasn't condoned by the parents, which made for a tough situation.  Usually when unmarried couples get pregnant it's an "Oops!" moment.  So how do you react when the unmarried pregnant family members expect you to be excited for them?

Obviously, as a Catholic, their situation was one that I don't believe is morally acceptable, but it doesn't make me love them any less.'d never know that by the way I reacted to the situation.  It "wasn't fair."  I retreated, pouted, and literally did not talk to her the entire time she was pregnant.  It was JUST. TOO. HARD.

In the other situation (baby #2), the relative was in an emotionally abusive relationship, unmarried, and likely not to get married.  She's relatively irresponsible, has fallen away from the Church (though I'm not sure she would say she was ever a faithful Catholic), and is practicing Buddhism.  She flippantly wavered back and forth about whether or not to have the baby.  She finally chose to have the child, commenting, "It's not like a baby has to ruin my career."  How selfless.  I tried my best to be supportive while she was on the fence, afraid that any wrong move might convince her to abort (I even offered to adopt the baby). 

I later learned that this baby was not her first pregnancy.  Just a couple of months before she found out she was pregnant, she had had an abortion.  Needless to say, this was just too much for me to take.  When I found out, I felt like I had been stabbed in the gut.  Talk about not fair!  (I know, I know.  I'm fully aware that my version of "fair" is not the same as God's.  But just because I know it, doesn't mean it's easy to submit to.)

How's that for a wordy backstory?  So these past holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, I was going to see both of them, respectively.  I was dreading it.  Not necessarily because I didn't want to see them, I just didn't know if I could handle it.  I didn't know if I could act like a normal human being.  But I had no choice.  I had to handle it.  So I bucked up and put on my game face. 

We got up on Thanksgiving morning and got ready to see baby #1 for the first time.  Did I mention I was dreading it?  But I was trying to keep my mind on other things.  I made a lot of food, bought some gifts, and tried to focus on the real meaning of the holiday.  We're getting ready to leave, packing up the car, and then, the mother of all insults - I START MY PERIOD.  Yes.  Thanksgiving morning.  Happy Thanksgiving to me.  I felt like God was metaphorically throwing salt in my wound.  It was horrible.  And it made the anticipation that much worse.  But I got through it.  The fact that baby #1's mom is completely understanding of my religious beliefs and knows my situation made it bearable.  Thankfully, since baby #1's birth,  I've been able to open up to her and tell her how I feel and why this is so hard for me.  Oh...and why I've been acting like such a child.  And she's sympathetic, God bless her.  I know some women would be mad that I just couldn't be happy for them, and write me off as a selfish jerk.  So in that respect, I'm blessed to have such an understanding relative.  All in all, the weekend ended up being relatively bearable.  Once I got over myself and put my mind on other things, I was able to get through it. 

Then came Christmas.  We traveled on Christmas Eve.  I was 3 days late (fyi I'm not currently charting so I have no idea how many P+'s I was).  I was *hoping*, *praying* for a Christmas miracle!  I tried SO hard to take my mind off of that thought to avoid disappointment, but every day that passes is like a tiny miracle in itself (my cycles are very regular in number of days).  I went over in my head how being pregnant right now would be the perfect timing for so many reasons.  Jack would be starting school full-day, 2011 is not an election year so I wouldn't be as busy, I just got rejected from a fellowship I applied for (of course Divinely, because I was pregnant!), etc. etc. 

Christmas Day was my 4th day late.  I just knew I should have started by now.  We got up with Jack to open presents.  I stopped to use the restroom before going upstairs, still praying for no indication of a period.  But...there she was.  AF.  ARE.  YOU.  KIDDING.  ME.  Christmas Day!!! 

I'm telling you I was a heartbeat away from throwing it all away and giving up.  I was angry.  I was angry with God.  And I told him.  I told him it wasn't fair.  I mean, it's one thing to know I'm not pregnant on Day 28, like clockwork.  But to make me 4 days late only to start on Christmas DAY, after having started my last period on Thanksgiving Day?!?!???  What are you doing to me?!?!??  I knew I was being punished.  Punished for how I reacted to baby #1 and baby #2.  Punished for not being ecstatically excited when I found out I was pregnant with Jack.  It was a rough day and difficult to enjoy, which made me then feel guilty that I couldn't just enjoy the wonderfully perfect child I already don't deserve, and make this day fun and special for him.  Which made me then think "no wonder I'm not pregnant, I'm a horrible mother!!"  It's a vicious cycle.

The next day was spent with baby #2.  I survived, thanks in no small part to the fact that brunch was served with screwdrivers and mimosas.  But it was unbelieveably difficult.

The past couple of weeks have consisted of a lot of healing and discernment.  Though probably not enough.  I'm still in a place of confusion and a little resentment and anger, but it's getting better.  (She probably doesn't know it, but much of any healing I've done is thanks to Leila, which will require a full-length post in the future!)  I'm getting over my pride and asking the Lord for help.  I'm saying my Rosary.  And I finally have hope, ironically, thanks to "Dr. Secular." 

I'll update with more thoughts and progress in the coming weeks.  As always, prayers are appreciated!


  1. Holy smokes.

    First, prayers for that little baby who was killed.
    Second, hugs for you. So difficult.
    It helps me to remember that every single baby, even the ones with crack addict mothers, was created and is desired by God. And that's enough for me to desire his or her existence too.

    Praying for you and ALL these situations.

  2. Oh I need a mimosa now too! I'm so sorry.

    There are times when I feel completely at peace with infertility and then BAM! I hear stories similar to the ones you mention here and I begin to feel very, very sorry for myself. Amazingly- somehow, someway God is always able to lift me back up. I'll be praying for you during this difficult time... (and for a + to boot!) ;)

  3. Wow! What an experience to have to go through...and around the holidays, it makes it that much more difficult.

    Although I don't experience secondary infertility-my SIL does and her and I have been able to talk so much. The thing that binds us together-the desire and yearning for (another) child and the pain that accompanies the waiting.

    I'll pray for you though that you'll continue to trust God-even though there are times that seems almost impossible (like being around those like you've mentioned). I'm so glad you're apart of the IF blogging community-I know that there have been times that the kind words and prayers from the amazing ladies here in this community, have helped me to carry on in the midst of difficulty!

  4. Man, I can TOTALLY relate. This was me for many years. My childish pride was AWFUL and still gets the best of me at times. I'm sorry you were there too, but glad you were able to muscle your way through. Hang in there :)

  5. I'm amazed at your strength! You never know who you touch. Thank you and God Bless.

  6. Oh, how rough for you...
    Don't be so hard on yourself! You did (and are doing) your best in some incredibly challenging family situations...
    The fact they were wrapped in the emotional baggage of the holidays could not have helped...
    Will pray for you!

  7. Ugh. I'm Sorry Nicole. I've been in similar situations and it just seems SO unfair.

  8. I am so so sorry. I've had this screen open for about 24 hours now wanting to give it the time it needed for me to read it peacefully. Oh Nicole, that is really adding insult to injury. I am so so sorry. All of those factors together...I get the screwdrive/mimosa thing!!

    In no way, though, do I believe the Lord was trying to punish you for struggling with babies 1 & 2. He doesn't work like that. He doesn't hold things over our heads and then punch us in the gut to say, "See how it feels?" That's not the way of love- and He IS Love.

    Thank you for sharing your story here. We'll be praying for you.

  9. Babies born out of wedlock are typically harder for me to handle, too :(. There's just this feeling of why?? when we could provide a good home, we have a stable, happy marriage, why?? are these kids/irresponsible adults/friends who never wanted kids/etc blessed with babies and not us?
    It's hard when our friends lapped us time and time again, but at least they were all married...
    I'm glad you're blogging! The women in the blogosphere are amazingly supportive - there's nothing else like it :).