Happy New Year!

So I rang in the New Year sober, thanks to my little girl (yes, that’s right, it’s a girl!) whose growth in my UU has been ticking along right on target all these week.  And as my houseguests and DH indulged in glass of wine after glass of wine, or beer after beer, they looked at me with a half-pitying smile and said, “Poor Hope… another New Years sober.”  I don’t like being pitied because I’m pregnant.  I don’t like being pitied for any reason, in fact.

But the truth was, I couldn’t even remember if the 2011-2012 New Years celebration was a sober one for me, either.  Or if the one before that, 2010-2011, was.  They all started to blur together in my mind, especially as the reality of impending infertility began to rear its ugly head.  I think I might have let my guard down three years ago and had a drink or two.  And while many people find New Year’s an occasion to become the reveler you see in movies – doing shot after shot, playing music too loud, getting dressed up in the dead of winter and never wearing a coat – the sadness of my failure as a woman overrode the desire to get a buzz.  Like many other holidays – Christmas especially – it was a somber reminder of the potential memories I would never have: kids falling asleep waiting for the ball to drop, or kids waking me up in their little nightgowns and footie pajamas to tell me it was the new year, or just kids to be thankful for.

I didn’t wake up my son for the celebration of the new year.  I am too protective of his sleep patterns to allow that kind of disruption to take place, but also he’s really blissfully unaware of the meaning of days.  There will come a time he’ll want me to let him stay up.  Instead, I welcomed the new year with a new appreciation of the man my husband has become, to watch him as a father.  I marveled at the family that I thought I would never have – and at the new family member to join us this year – and wondered how I got to be so lucky after what I thought was a dead end.

You knew this was coming

This is not my first mother’s day as an infertilite; it’s just the first one that I’m not naïve to my infertility.  All the other ones passed by just fine, happily celebrating my own mother and grandmother, and always thinking in the back of my mind, “Maybe by next year…”  But there never was a “next year.”

So this is the first one that I’m a little worried about.  And, at least all the Resolve.org and other infertility tweets this past week have all be filling me with a little trepidation – that, uh oh, this is a really tough time of year.  You’re probably going to get depressed and wallow in misery, so have your plan prepared now.  I didn’t realize a simple holiday could bring with it warnings of apocalypse; it’s not like we don’t all know there is a Mother’s Day – but we don’t always know when strangers are going to be rude.

Given all these prophesies, I’m a little worried that a switch will go off in my head that will immediately render me depressed, unable to leave the couch, desiring a bag of Tostitos chips and a jar of salsa con queso.  I read what all the websites say about how you should have a contingency plan in place for what to say to people, or to treat yourself extra special, or to keep in touch with your feelings and do whatever the hell you feel like doing.  I’m not sure all of that is really sound advice, and could be very detrimental to someone’s healing process I could imagine.  When you counsel someone suffering from depression, you don’t tell them “Yes, stay in bed all day if that’s what you need.  Don’t make the effort to talk to anyone.”  If that was a valid treatment for depression, would we need pharmaceuticals to make us do the things you really don’t want to do? Right.

What is an infertilite who’s okay with being an infertilite to do?  If I don’t feel twinges of pain and depression in a way that’s going to make me want to hide in a cave all day.  Don’t get me wrong – I still get the jealousy of the excitement certain family members display over friends and family making their announcements of arrivals.  I make slightly bitter jokes about never going to see What to Expect When You’re Expecting: The Movie (which is probably just as predictable and unrevealing about pregnancy as the book is – just guessing).  But does not feeling sad about Mother’s Day (and not being one) make me abnormal?  Shouldn’t we also be recognizing that while there are infertilites who are truly suffering on the day (perhaps after a miscarriage, an adoption process taking too long, or emptied wallets from ARTs that didn’t work), there are also infertilites who are making peace with it – and that’s okay too?

Therefore, for all those out there who don’t want to give any one highly commercialized holiday that much power over how they define their emotions about infertility, a declaration:

“This Mother’s Day I will value the life that I have been given and all the wonderful people in it.  I will honor my own limits in celebrating the day with others.  I have the strength I need because I am a woman – a whole, confident, beautiful woman.”

Ladies, not being a ‘mother’ does not make you less of a woman.

Happy Easter!

Image

A quick trip in the infertility time machine reveals a few things to celebrate about this joyful holiday.

The Anglo-Saxon feast of Eostre, goddess of fertility,was typically celebrated throughout the month of April. Northern Europeans may have believed that rabbits carried Eostre’s lights of spring, thereby integrating them into their celebrations of the goddess. Other early festivities on the spring equinox included treating eggs as precious fertility treasures from which new life emerges. And while the modern Christian holiday of Easter focuses more on resurrection than fertility, there is an understanding that new life comes with sacrifice – sometimes the most difficult sacrifices you ever have to make.

Wherever you are and whatever you celebrate, I wish you a wonderful month of springtime hope!