Sunday, 9 December 2012

Christmas trees, presents and tears

I got a text message today from a dear friend who lost her first baby this year.  She was sitting in her car, in the parking lot of the local shopping centre, crying her eyes out.  Her attempt at a normal round of Christmas present buying had proven too hard a task.  She was trapped inside her grief, inside her car, and didn't know what to do next.

It made me wonder how many of us have been in this same situation.  Whether it was at Christmas time, a birthday or anniversary, outside a friend's house as a baby shower goes on inside... How many of us have attempted to do something "normal" like buying a gift or simple grocery shopping, in order to feel "normal"?  And how many of us have broken apart at the seams in the cereal aisle, or surrounded by a crowd in the kids section of Target?  And why do we make ourselves feel so awful when this happens?

I am guilty of trying to act like a normal person since we lost our babies.  Planning parties, organising family dinners, and putting up our Christmas tree on December 1st.   I have tried to buy baby gifts for girlfriends, only to cry all over the gift wrapping.  And I am guilty of trying to pretend that grief doesn't blanket every emotion or thought in my heart and head.  And this seems to be exacerbated ten-fold when someone tries to do something lovely for me!  I can't receive a card or gift without immediately converting to the blubbering version of myself.      

But at Christmas time, we don't play these games in our house.  Christmas Day is a sacred day for so many reasons.  First and foremost it is the birthday of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.  And in the spirit of hope, family and unconditional love, Christmas Day is also the one day a year when Hubby and I be and feel whatever we need to in that moment.  We spend the day in each others company giving and receiving gifts, eating our specially prepared meals and expressing whatever feelings overcome us at any given moment.  

For instance, we usually try to attend church on Christmas morning.  This is tradition that we were both raised with, and one we hope our children will be able to share with us too.  I hold Hubby's hand throughout the whole service as we pray and hear the message of the day.  I can hold my own pretty well until it is time to sing carols.  For whatever reason, for as long as I can remember, singing Christmas carols is for me like opening the floodgates on a year's worth of held in, pent up emotion.  The moment the choir begins rejoicing in "O Holy Night" I am slapped back into my chair, face in my hands, sobbing.  Some years the sobbing is with grateful thanks for the wonderful blessings in our lives, and sometimes it with sadness over not being able to share that Christmas with a beloved family member who passed away during the year.  But this year I know, and I am VERY prepared for the fact that all my tears will be for our babies.  

The thought of this terrifies me!  The thought of crying like a banshee in a church full of people trying to celebrate their own Christmases is mortifyingly embarrassing!   You see, I'm not a "pretty crier".  When I cry, and I mean really, REALLY get into a full on tear fest, I can not be accountable for the drooling, the oozing boogers or the groans that come out of me from somewhere deep within.  Usually when I feel one of these moments coming on, like my dear friend, I search for the closest exit to the room/building/situation and I find a warm, quiet place to hide.  Problem is, church is for some people that warm, quiet place to hide.  And on Christmas Day we are all going to be there together.  I have voiced these concerns to my Husband, who promises to come prepared with extra tissues stuffed into every available pocket, and a coat of some sort to drape around my shoulders so I can hide my face from onlookers.  And if need be, he will hold my hand and guide me out the front door and into a private corner so I can collect my dignity and redo my makeup.  My hero!

Let's face it, Christmas is a hard one.  There is so much expectation put on this single day to magically be able to visit ALL of our family, no matter how far the distance between homes, to cook a meal even a Master Chef would be proud of, and to be constantly chipper in a way that I feel can only be medically or alcoholically induced.  And the person who puts the brunt of this expectation on us is ourselves!

So here is my Christmas wish for you...
I pray that take a moment with your Husband or Wife and allow yourselves to really feel what is in your heart this Christmas.  I don't believe in self-pity or dwelling in grief, but I DO believe in acknowledging it and the role it plays in our lives.  So whether it be first thing in the morning, last thing at night, or you sneak away from your Aunts and Uncles at the family gathering, it really doesn't matter when.  You'll be surprised at how cathartic it can be to have a big old cry.  It may just be what you need to get you through the rest of your Christmas Day duties!

I also wish you much love this Christmas.  The love of our family and friends is the greatest blessing during our hard times.  And I pray that you feel love in abundance.

Merry Christmas everyone! 
All my love, 
Sunny xx  



  1. Thank you for your Christmas wish. I will be doing my best this year to really allow what I need to feel in. This post really hits the nail on the head.

  2. I find feeling authentically during the holidays is hard. We do expect ourselves to be strong and hold it together, but sometimes it is best to just be what you are. I will be celebrating our soon-to-be baby, while mourning the loss of our twins yet again this holiday season. I will have to find time for both emotions...and it will be confusing and hard. I wish you happy holidays and that you can find that moment you need.

  3. Sunny, I'm so sorry for what you've been going through. I have been there myself and come out on the other side.
    I hope you don't mind my saying but it seems like you moved onto IVF rather quickly. IVF is not the answer for every situation. The fact that you overstimulated may have had some impact on the egg quality, who knows.
    I really believe IVF should be the absolute last resort. The reason I feel this way is because a failed IVF can make one feel so hopeless when, in fact, there's no reason to believe you can't be successful with FSH/IUI protocol. You CAN take a step back from IVF.
    I'm sure I've said this before but you really really need to check your thyroid function and make sure your TSH is 1-1.5. A TSH over 2 often impairs infertility. Also FT4, FT3 and anti thyroid antibodies need to be checked too. If there is one thing you can do to help your fertility, insist on getting checked and treated. Also read up on the connection between pcos and hypothyroidism. Most pcos sufferers are hypothyroid, which of course causes infertility and miscarriage.

    1. Hi Katerina,
      Thanks for the comment. Surprisingly a lot of people have said to me that they feel I went too quickly into IVF. I think that's because I didn't really write about each and every method we tried and failed at to get there. We only chose IVF after 2 years of attempting with ovarian drilling, Clomid, Clomid + IUI, injectables + IUI, etc. And each time the results were very varied and unsuccessful.
      I believe I am an uncharacteristic PCOS sufferer too. In that I am well inside my goal BMI (24.5 to be exact), I don't have any thyroid problems, I am not glucose intolerant. As a nurse myself I ensured that all testing was done on a regular basis to support my PCOS diagnosis and it was only after very careful consideration that we chose to attempt any ART.
      Unfortunately there is no clinically identified reason, apart from the PCOS, that I can not get pregnant/stay pregnant. We are in that ever-so-frustrating category of "we don't know".
      I'm always really vigilant to make sure our doctor is keeping on top of testing for glucose tolerance and thyroid levels at least once every three months. So far so good!
      Thanks so much for your interest. I hope this makes it a bit clearer.
      Sunny x

  4. Hi Sunny
    Thank you for clarifying. I am also atypical "pcos like." I have polycystic ovaries and ovulate like clockwork, have never had a BMI over 22. There were always only subtle abnormalities on my blood work, like they would always be in range but not in the ideal range. And my fasting insulin was low, at 5 but my RE felt that many cases of IR are not diagnosable with GTT or insulin levels. Based on my increasing fasting glucose levels over the years and borderline GTT during pregnancy, I do suspect that there is some glucose metabolism problem.
    I don't have the link right now but check humrep or pubmed. They have some studies on there detailing the improvement in polycystic appearance of both IR and non IR women after taking metformin. Assuming you've tried it?