I just finished watching the SnapFish commercial with the family trying to compile the best photos for their holiday cards and I. got. angry. I hate that commercial on many levels, but today it is because of what it reminds me.
Now that the holidays are here it is impossible to be reminded over and over and over again that our family looks very little like the families splashed across the TV as they celebrate the holidays or the abundance of holiday greeting cards that will soon fill our mailbox. I’m grateful to be remembered by our friends and I enjoy seeing how their children grow, but each year of their growth, both in age and number of family members, is just another hurtful reminder that it is just us and our fur children here. I’ve actually stopped sending holiday cards because you just don’t see people without children on the front of those damn things. I know it shouldn’t be about what they have and what we don’t, and truly in the beginning it wasn’t that hard to do every year, but something has changed for me the last two years. Sending a generic card seems to ignore what our family is made of and sending one of us with our dogs seems depressing. Who wants to be depressed by a holiday greeting card? I can only picture our card in the mix of all of the others and being the only ones without small children on the front. Our friends know about our difficulties to conceive, so I feel like sending them a picture with us and our dogs will only bring about sympathy and I don’t want that.
In an April Time magazine article, it gave statistics on the numbers of Americans living childfree. It states, “The birthrate in the U.S. is the lowest in recorded American history. From 2007 to 2011, the most recent year for which there’s data, the fertility rate declined 9%. A 2010 Pew Research report showed that childlessness has risen across all racial and ethnic groups, adding up to about 1 in 5 American women who end their childbearing years maternity-free, compared with 1 in 10 in the 1970s.” Even though I know we aren’t alone, it is tough not to feel that way during the holidays. Maybe I shouldn’t assume that we’ll be the only ones who send our friends holiday cards sans children, but this time of year makes the likelihood of us not being the only one impossible.
Read more: The Childfree Life – TIME http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2148636,00.html#ixzz2keGYRDbe
I haven’t always looked the holidays with a dreaded sense of feeling left out, but now that I do, it totally sucks. It begins with Halloween and ends with Christmas. Three full months of reminders.
How do you fight the “involuntary child free” holiday blues?
About five or six years ago I had an HSG test. It was no big deal. I went to the hospital and checked in with the radiologist, stripped down and put on the hospital gown, got on a sterile stainless steel table and was out of there in about five minutes. No pain at all. Because those films are now lost between REs and OB/GYN offices of my past, my RE had me redo the test. I was expecting much of the same from several years ago. Man, was I wrong.
The nurses were sweet and the whole procedure lasted maybe 10 minutes, but the pain this time was more than last and it is lingering. I don’t think they used the balloon last time to expand my uterus. What an instrument of torture that thing is. It was less painful than the exploratory hysteroscopy, but painful nonetheless.
This is going to sound crazy, but it was also frustrating that they didn’t see anything that looked wrong. I’m not asking for my tubes to be suddenly blocked or my uterus to be misshaped, but a diagnosis for our infertility would be nice. We seem to have relatively solid working parts. I make lots of eggs when stimulated and am super fortunate to have them fertilize. I find all of these things to be great blessings, but it makes going through this so very difficult because we have no idea why we can’t conceive and carry to full term. Genetic testing comes back without concerns. The only thing I can think it could be is stress.
I’m working on trying to find good ways to separate myself from my stress. Compartmentalize it, deal with it, and move on or leave it where it is until I can deal with it again. My head sometimes turns into a hamster stuck in that spinning wheel. Once I think of stressful things, it just keeps going and going and going…Then my heart is racing and the tension headache may start or I find I have difficulty catching my breath. Not a full on panic attack mind you, but something close to one. I would lace up my running shoes, but I’ve been directed to not run. The whole fight or flight connection seems to be detrimental to conception and running may increase that feeling. I need to get my yoga practice back up and am working through guided meditations, tough finding one that is free and doesn’t sound like a robot talking to you has proven difficult. Laughter is helping too. I just finished the most hilarious YA book called Carter Finally Gets It. Something about the humor of a kid living with ADD and surviving his first year of high school got me giggling while I read. It was a nice break from the hamster wheel for a while. Both my therapist and my acupuncturist are coaching me to find this separation, but breaking that cycle has prove to be tough.
So how do you work through the stresses of life and infertility?