For many people, the holiday season is met with mixed emotions. It’s always been my favorite time of year. I love the time with family and friends, the traditions that have created wonderful memories, the many reasons to celebrate, and just the magic of it all. Much like Mother’s Day, my feelings about the holidays started to change when my husband and I started trying to have a baby.
In 2010, when we were trying to conceive but before we knew of the infertility struggle that lay ahead, my mom gave me and my sister the wishbone at Thanksgiving. My sister got the bigger half but told me that her wish was for me to be pregnant. At the time, it was innocent and playful, because we were both getting impatient. And those moments continued. I couldn’t wait to tell my little one how I had wished to be a momma on turkey bones, letters to Santa, birthday candles, and at Cinderella’s castle at Disney.
The holidays in 2011 were very different. Someone was clearly missing. By this point I knew of our infertility and the treatment that we would have to undergo in order to get pregnant. We were simply waiting for many things to fall into place so we could begin the process. My heart was aching. Everywhere I looked, I saw people celebrating as a family.
At Christmas Eve mass it became too much. I sat in the pew, holding my husband’s hand, with tears quietly falling down my cheeks. It seemed like every time I tried to enjoy the season, there was a reminder of what I was missing. There were mommas whispering to their little ones, kiddos anxious to get home to put their milk and cookies out for Santa, family pictures on Christmas cards, and memories being made. I was jealous, sad and ready for the holidays to be over.
In 2012, I was pregnant with my daughter. I didn’t feel as much like I was missing out on something amazing, but I did then, and still do now, have my moments. I’m just so much more aware of the quiet pain that others may be experiencing at the holidays, and year round. Maybe not because of infertility, but for any number of personal and meaningful reasons.
My full circle moment came in 2013. It was a simple moment, but I will remember it forever. That year, I sat in church, holding my sweet baby girl as she slept through the Christmas Eve service. I smiled to myself as I thought about how happy my husband was that we got to be someone’s Santa. We had taken family Christmas pictures. We were celebrating and enjoying traditions with our families while making new traditions with our baby girl. My wish, my dream had come true and I was enjoying the most magical time of year as a family of three. I had all the feelings of a cheesy made-for-TV movie and I loved it.
This year, as the holidays rapidly approach, I will be sure to soak in all the moments, big and small with my (not so) baby girl. We will make wonderful memories and I will smile as I watch her take in the magic of the season. And, I will silently say a prayer for the many couples, surely all around me, who are going through the motions with an ache in their heart that they are waiting for a baby to fill.
*Feature photo by Jen Creque Photography
Melissa Kimball is a marketing communications professional who lives in Whitehouse with her husband, Bob, her toddler, Hope, and boxers, Blue and Bo. You can read her monthly columns by clicking here.