Thursday, December 31, 2009

An excerpt from the holiday letter I wish I'd written

As usual, 2009 has been an eventful year.

In January, to kick off the new year, we embarked on a series of invasive testing at a well-respected local fertility clinic. After multiple canceled and rescheduled appointments with our very popular doctor, having been told that he could find nothing wrong with either of us except that my eggs are "old," I started using traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture in an attempt to achieve pregnancy without medical intervention. Three months later, after spending thousands of dollars and enduring weekly sessions with acupuncture needles and three-times-a-day teas with the foulest tastes and smells imaginable, we resigned ourselves to having to use the fertility clinic's services.

As you can see only MM, the dogs, and I here in our family photo, you have probably already guessed that, despite the months of fertility drugs and frustration and thousands of dollars spent, we are still childless. (And no, I am not pregnant in the photo, just fat.) In early August, just a couple of weeks after the dogs' drug overdose (more on that later), I got my first-ever positive pregnancy test, only to find out within the same day that I was having an early miscarriage. We hope it is not the only positive pregnancy test we will ever see, but who knows?

On a related note, I'd like to extend my congratulations to the twelve people who announced their pregnancies this year--one the day after my miscarriage was diagnosed--and the fifteen people we know who welcomed their first child into the world in 2009. And especial kudos to the two friends who managed to accomplish both the birth of a child AND another pregnancy this year! You know who you are. . . .

I am a little late to the party with this topic, but wanted to share my thoughts nonetheless.

I know my fellow ladies struggling with infertility can relate to the mixed emotions associated with receiving friends' and family members' holiday greetings. On the one hand, I genuinely love hearing from everyone, finding out what they have been up to, and seeing how their kids have grown. I actually like getting photos with my holiday cards. On the other hand, the newsletters and especially the photos can be a painful reminder of what we don't have and may never have.

Oh, and by the way: I hate it when my friends, the parents, only send out photos of their kids. Yes, I get that you are probably unhappy with your figure after having given birth and that you'd prefer to hide from the camera. . . and yes, I want to see your kids looking cute and Christmas-y and see how they have grown since last year's card. BUT I'd also like to see a picture of YOU, my friend, even more than I'd like to see a picture of your offspring, especially if we don't often see one another during the year. Ahem.

Our "family" photo this year was a picture of MM, the goldens, and me. It was a very nice photo (thanks, BFF), but I'll admit that I wondered whether it would seem a little pathetic to my friends and relatives with children. "Oh, look: S has been married for over a year, and she and her husband still just have those big, hairy dogs, two of them now. Guess they aren't having any kids; she is getting kind-of old."

I've decided that for Christmas 2010, I am going to make a concerted effort to make sure that I get a good photo of MM and me on each trip we take. (We already have our first, to Las Vegas, planned for the third weekend in March.) Next year's photo greeting will be a collage of us in all the fun places we visited. That way my friends with small children can envy ME the way I currently envy THEM. . . . I doubt most people who are parenting small children get to take 3-4 trips a year just for fun.

Yes, I am being a little snarky, and my intention is somewhat inappropriate for a time of year that is supposed to be filled with joy and good cheer. Oh well. I guess I'm just a horrible person. (Hey, maybe that is why I've been cursed with infertility!)

Happy New Year! I hope 2010 is a better year for us all.

11 comments:

  1. It's so funny that you're writing about Christmas pics bc just today I got a (belated) card and pic from my bff. She's infertile (like me) and her picture is of her two dogs. I completely get it. I'm sure it killed her to have to send out a pic of just her dogs rather than of the baby that she so desperately wants. I actually think it's rather brave of her to do that. I didn't send pics out, just a blah card.

    Xmas pics are just another way for fertiles to rub their perfect little families in our faces. Of course, only infertiles would be insulted by the insensitivity. I agree that a full family photo is much better than one with just the kids.

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  2. I think everyone will definitely be jealous of seeing you taking fabulous trips! I don't think that is snarky at all :)

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  3. Well put! Great post and I second your thoughts. I agree ... who wants a hoiday photo of just the kids!?! Here is to a better 2010 for you and your DH and furry kids.

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  4. I appreciate you addressing the holiday card issue. I feel the same way. In years past I displayed them on the mantle. For the past couple of years, I have collected them in a basket that is tucked away.

    I can relate to wondering how others view our childless holiday card. (I am 35 and have been married for several years).

    You should definitely do a collage of your fabulous adventures!

    Wishing you all the best in 2010!

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  5. This is hilarious. Not the reality of it of course, just your writing. Especially the shout-outs to new parents and pregnant people. My note would sound similar. A big bfp, no babies. TWO dogs now. The second one arriving a suspicious three months after my m/c and news that we wouldn't be able to try again for a while. That would be the big update. It's frustrating. And I share your grief re: xmas cards with only the kids on them. Although when I see new doting parents holding their new babies in little santa outfits, everyone beaming, that kills me too so for me it's a lose, lose. We also get parents who specifically instruct us not to get xmas presents for them, just get them for their kids. So just when did all these mothers up and give their entire identities away to their kids? I guess it's that kind of love - I wouldn't know. I still get xmas presents addressed to me on xmas. And sometimes the dogs. To the extent I understand people not 'needing' gifts anymore once they become parents, getting a present myself makes me feel like a kid. Like I haven't arrived. Which i haven't.

    Well, have a happy new year, may 2010 be better than this.

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  6. I sent out a similar xmas card. It was a little painful, but dammit I think my dogs are awfully cute! As is my DH.... :)

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  7. I'm fairly new to your blog but you have made me a fan for life with this post. The way you write and express your thoughts (and I personally love snarky when warranted) is fabulous. I love the concept of making others envious of our ability to travel! I'm soooo going to do this. Oh and when it comes to dogs...I've got four. I think my friends are concerned that I'll continue to adopt dogs if I don't have a child soon. They may be right. A new breed of octomom perhaps?? Happy New Year!

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  8. Totally cracked me up :) And, fwiw, I'm 100% with you on the cards with pics of kids only - um, thanks, but what about my *friends*!?!?! Although I suppose I'm a bit of a hypocrite because our cards this year only had a pic of our dogs, not us - now *that's* really pathetic ;)

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  9. I have to say that I don't put a picture of myself in my holiday cards because I don't think people would be interested in looking at me. I think I suffer from low self-esteem.

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  10. Hello!

    My name is Elisabeth, and I am an infertility / repeated pregnancy loss "veteran". You can read a little bit about me and my experiences in my blog: drhousewife.blogspot.com . I am completing a PhD in Counseling Psychology, and my dissertation is focused upon the impact of infertility on marriage. I believe strongly that there is a need for better support services for men and women who are undergoing IF diagnosis and treatment, and my hope is that this study will aid in the development of such services.

    I am contacting you after stumbling across your blog. I am recruiting participants for my study, and wanted to invite you and your husband to take part. All that would be involved would be the completion of an online survey, that would take approximately 20 minutes. All couples who complete the surveys will receive a voucher good for a pair of free movie tickets at a Regal Cinemas.

    Please let me know if you are interested by emailing me at UTInfertilityResearch@gmail.com . I have included the criteria for participation below.

    Feel free to pass information along to anyone you know who might be interested in contributing to this study.

    Best of luck to you!
    Elisabeth


    Member of a married, heterosexual couple
    Both you and your spouse are between the ages of 20 – 45
    You do not have any biological or adopted children living in your home
    You are not currently pregnant
    Either you, your spouse, or both has received an infertility diagnosis
    You have received treatment for infertility in the past six months, or plan to do so in the next six months
    Both you and your partner are willing to participate & have access to the internet

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  11. I do also wonder what people are thinking about us not being pregnant yet almost 3 years into our marriage. Does everyone know we are struggling? Or does it not occur to them because they are fertile? Before it hit me that things were taking awhile for us, I never looked at childless couples and judged or wondered. I actually do it more now. I wonder who is trying and how's it going. And I obsess over what people are wondering about me. Some people who used to ask me have actually stopped, which disturbs me even more that they know not to ask me. I need to stop caring about others' opinions.

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