With Andy’s immediate family we draw names for Christmas. Each couple gets another couple to buy gifts for. The older I get the harder it is to buy Christmas gifts and to put a “wish list” out there for people to buy us stuff. I am to the point if I need something, we get it. If I want something, eventually, we get it. So telling people what I want or need has become more difficult (and the times that I gave the brand of shampoo, toothpaste, conditioner etc it was laughed at as a joke). Last year we had Andy’s parents as the couple we were buying for. I think they feel similar because they couldn’t think of anything they wanted or needed for their Christmas wish list.
Part of the problem was that they were in the process of packing boxes and moving and with most things they packed his mom would say something along the lines of why did she had so much “stuff.” I didn’t want to add to the stuff she needed to pack so we thought extremely hard on what to get them. We decided to get her a gift card so that she could have family photos done by a professional. Not just my camera and tri-pod. They seemed happy with their gift card. Fast forward to 10 months later and they lined up using the gift.
I don’t like pictures anyways. We will start there. But we went into town (I had a dentist appointment too) and got dressed up. I straightened my hair (which is always an ordeal) and put on mascara and lipstick and we did this picture thing. The photographer did great and worked fast. The nieces and nephew seemed to smile for all the pictures. It worked out nicely as a good gift.
See the kids looked great.
I smiled and hoped it would reach my eyes. The entire time I was watching our nieces run around with our nephew I couldn’t help but think that Addy should be here with her cousins. Each time one of Andy’s siblings asked if they should be holding the kids, I couldn’t help but think I want to hold Addy in our pictures. I couldn’t help but think that she would have fit right in with them. I couldn’t help but think of how unfair it was that she wasn’t with us. I couldn’t think too hard because then I would shed the tears that were hiding behind my hopefully real looking, fake, smile. The photographer would say “family with girls” or “family with the boy” and then “you two.” To her credit she didn’t say “childless couple” because had she, I would have lost it right there in the park with my mascara running down my face. She didn’t know where we have been. It isn’t her fault at all. But standing there with my in-laws in front of the picture. To the right of the picture was their oldest child, his wife, and 2 daughters in a tight little clump. To the left but still middle of the picture was their youngest child, her husband, and their son in a tight little clump. To the far left was their middle child, and me. And a heart so full of holes and sorrow. But that was our clump. I love Andy with everything I have but there is still that emptiness. Addy should have been there. I miss the dreams and answers to prayers that she represented. I miss the what could have beens. But mostly I just miss her.
Infertility sucks. In my story, nothing emphasizes that more than “family” stuff. Be it holidays, vacations, going out to eat together, or family photos…family stuff is hard – yes still (and sometimes worse than before). We have been travelling this road far too long. We are no stranger to sadness and disappointment and loss. One would think we could “get over it already and be happy.” But family is hard. Family reminds me of that family I don’t have.
Holidays are fast approaching and I feel like there will be some moments I sneak out of rooms, or step out onto the porch for fresh air. There will be times I lock myself in the bathroom for a few minutes just to breathe and give myself permission to be sad and happy. To give myself the grace and space I need to grieve the could have beens. To quietly brush a tear off my check. Yes, I live infertility each and every day, but holidays are a different battle. All of that to say – forgive me if you turn to ask for a refill on your wine, or to pass the salt and pepper and you are telling my back as I am walking away.