To my fertile friends at Christmas,
This time of year is always hard. Christmas is the most magical time of year, so we are told. Surrounded by ‘Santa please stop here’ signs, ‘When are you having children?’ questions and the painful reminder that Christmas is (apparently) for children.
This year I vowed to have the most Christmassy Christmas. I swore I’d watch a Christmas film every day, I would bake mince pies and sausage rolls, wear Christmas jumpers and decorate the house like Winter Wonderland. I promised I wouldn’t let infertility rule this time of year… and yet here I am. Impromptu pregnancy announcements, photos of friends children meeting Santa and baby’s first Christmas, and that twinge of loneliness and heartbreak seeps through my veins all over again.
There are two reasons you’re reading this: you’re struggling to get pregnant or you know someone who is. So this letter is for both; to support you and to help you support others.
If you are without child, I feel your pain. I feel that constant longing, that wishing and that heartbreak. I understand the shame you feel when looking in the mirror, that sadness you feel when decorating your tree. I feel the longing to pick your child up to place the star upon the tree, the desire to decorate horrifically messy gingerbread men. I see you walking around the local garden centre, the great big singing reindeers and the Santa’s grottos… I see you standing there, catching glances, longing for the day you’re with child and counting down the sleeps until Santa.
I understand the need to decline gatherings, the three pregnant women and the rest with children. It’s okay to admit you’re not okay, and if your friends don’t understand that, then I understand the need to question that friendship. I understand you not wanting to tell your friends you’re in this position, and I understand the hurt you feel when you have told your friends, and yet people don’t remember this might be hard for you. I understand how it feels when people say ‘maybe next year’, and tell you how certain they are this year will be YOUR year… like it hasn’t been said every year prior to this one.
To those of you who know someone who is struggling with infertility, accept that whilst you don’t understand, this time of year is hard. Telling them to get a move on, asking when they’re having children, I promise you is doing more harm than good. Please don’t make them feel guilty for not wanting to discuss, or, not wanting to be there at all. Accept that being around children, whilst they are truly lapping up the ‘joy of Christmas’, isn’t necessarily the best thing for us.
We know that seeing us in pain, seeing us struggle and not knowing what to say isn’t easy for you either, but, know that it isn’t personal. We aren’t avoiding you. We aren’t being rude. We simply need time.
Dealing with infertility is hard, understanding it when you’re fertile is harder. I promise you that.
This Christmas, the supposed Christmassy Christmas EVER, I have watched 1 Christmas film and eaten my weight in Quality Streets. I have started counselling and trauma therapy and I have faced more than one pregnancy announcement. This Christmas I have kept myself so busy I’m not sure when I have time for a glass of vino and my pyjamas. Christmas when infertile is – excuse my French – an absolute bastard. So please, do not feel guilty for finding this hard, and don’t find your friend rude for wanting to be alone. Infertility wrecks you in so many ways; it wrecks your mindset, your confidence, your self-worth, and there’s one hell of a battle to not let it ruin your Christmas too.
Please remember you are not alone.
Love, Amber xx