For anyone battling infertility, Christmas is a season of emotional landmines. Aside from the "miracle birth" narrative, the entire season is focused on families and children. You see them while Christmas shopping. Happy little faces beam at you from family photo Christmas cards. All your friends talk about is what their children want and what they plan to give them. When you are childless and very much want not to be, your heart and your spirit take a beating during what to seemingly everyone else is a joyous time.
I went through two Christmases battling infertility. The first was early in my battle. I was sad and getting a growing sense something was off, but we weren't officially infertile yet, just trying to get pregnant with no luck. By the second in 2007, I was battle-scarred by seven rage-filled months on Clomid, several invasive and embarrassing tests, and two misfires on IUIs. (The first had to be scrapped due to the need for more genetic testing-I was a carrier for cystic fibrosis, so J had to be tested and we had to postpone the IUI. Luckily, he was not a carrier. The second scheduled, but first actual, IUI failed right around Thanksgiving. It was hard to feel thankful.)
I really wanted to take the month of December off. I knew Christmas was going to be hard on me and I felt like taking a break from the hormones, the trigger shot, the knowing-every-second-of-every-day-where-I-am-in-my-cycle, the two-week wait, the progesterone pills I had to put in my vajayjay twice a day everyday after the IUI, all of it. I saw nothing but heartache ahead.
J is the one who convinced me to go through it all again that December. It amazes me to think back on that now, as there were definitely points in our journey where he was ready to stop if I was, where he felt like it was too much to put myself through, and I was adamantly not going to stop until there was a baby in my arms. At the moment I faltered, he boosted my spirit. Our chances on getting pregnant on the first IUI were 8 percent. The chances on the second IUI were 15 percent, almost double. In J's mind, that was reason enough to try again. I'll never know exactly why he was so confident that we should proceed in December, but I'm forever grateful he was steadfast and supportive and kept me going.
We went to our RE's office on the morning of December 14th, 2007, to check things out via the oh-so-fun vajayjay ultrasound. The previous month, none of my follicles looked promising. On this day, I had two OK follicles and one very large, VERY PROMISING follicle. It was absolutely the first time on any of my MANY mortifying vajayjay ultrasounds that I could actually "see" what the doctor was looking for, and he was very pleased. Of course, it was only one lovely follicle, but that was more than I had ever had develop properly before. He recommended we do the trigger shot that night and come in two days later for the IUI. My Mom and Daddy came over that night so Mom could help me with the shot. (J hates needles and I couldn't bear to give it to myself. My Mom was practiced in giving her sister insulin shots, so she took the job. Love my Mom. Of course, she would do anything to be a Nana!)
On the morning of Saturday, December 16th, 2007, J and I went to the RE's office and submitted ourselves to our various indignities. We went home and I spent the next two weeks attempting to distract myself in all ways possible. I really wasn't in the Christmas spirit. Mostly, I expected the worst and braced myself for it.
My pregnancy test at my RE's was scheduled for the morning of New Year's Eve. I was off work and J and I had made no plans to celebrate since I figured I'd be home sobbing into the remnants of an entire chocolate cake, while watching the ball drop in Times Square-a fitting end to my hellish year.
I went for the test first thing, then drove to my parents' house to hang out with them...J was at work. I didn't expect to hear news till the end of the day. A mere two hours later my phone rang and my doctor's words were "I hope you weren't going to make a New Year's resolution to lose weight this year, because you're going to gain a lot of weight!" I was like, "What?!" and started crying and then he said I was pregnant.
I'll never forget turning to look at my parents and seeing tears streaming down my Daddy's face. I immediately called J to tell him the good news...I hate that he wasn't with me, but since we weren't expecting good news, we hadn't really thought about it. J came home from work early that evening and we went out for dinner and smiled and laughed all night. My heart has never felt so light. We're pregnant, we're finally having a baby, we kept saying. We couldn't believe it.
Now, on the other side of my infertility battle, I'm back to loving Christmas again. Every year, during the Christmas season, I remember the circumstances surrounding Sophie's miracle birth. Although she was actually born in August, she was conceived at Christmas. She's my Christmas miracle. I feel incredibly blessed and extremely grateful. The holidays are sweeter than ever before with Sophie in them.
But every year, I pray for those who battle on. For all the women and men silently suffering, afraid to open Christmas cards, tearing up at touching holiday commercials, wondering why they still wait for their child. I pray for them because I've been there. I pray for their miracles.