Last year, somewhere in between Thanksgiving and the first few days of December, my husband and I unexpectedly conceived our first child. I revealed the pregnancy to him by giving him two Christmas ornaments to hang on our tree with the big news written on them – he was super excited! That entire holiday season was spent bonding over the pregnancy and the new baby that was forming in my belly. It really added to the magic of Christmas and the anticipation of the New Year! We were so excited, so proud, and so in love.
Unfortunately, my baby barely made it to February; I miscarried when I was 2 1/2 months along.
Now, I’m remembering all the times last year when I thought “this time next year we’ll have a 4 month old” or “next year will be our baby’s first Christmas”. Those thoughts come back to haunt me now; I feel so let down.
For many people, the holiday season is a wonderful time filled with love, laughter, and family. But for couples who have gone through miscarriage or infant loss, the holidays can be tough just like they can be after any other loss. It’s hard to be filled with holiday cheer when someone you love is missing, and it seems like the joyousness of the season only magnifies your pain. If you’re struggling to enjoy this holiday season after your loss or while battling infertility, I wanted to share some tips that may help you along the way.
- Do a lot of what makes your heart happy – Never forget that it’s okay to feel sadness! You’ve experienced a tremendous loss and you may have to be intentional about finding happiness and joy this holiday season. That’s okay! Indulge in the things that put a smile on your face and really try to soak in each day as it comes! Maybe it’s binge watching Christmas movies, baking cookies, or decorating for the holiday. Or perhaps it’s volunteering at a warming center, hosting your immediate family for dinner, taking a good nap or going on a vacation with your spouse. Whatever you enjoy, do that. Wherever your happy place is, go there. Take care of yourself!
- Remember that it’s okay to say ‘no’ – With it being the holidays you are going to get invited to a lot of gatherings, parties and family get-togethers. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and friends, but the hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be overwhelming at times! Throw in there the heartbreak and anxiety that comes with infertility, infant loss, or miscarriage and it can be downright emotionally draining. You’ve got your pregnant friends, your sister-in-law who just had her baby, your nosy aunt who is wondering why you haven’t had kids yet…there are reminders everywhere. If you are feeling too sad, vulnerable or upset to attend an event, don’t go! It’s okay to guard your heart and take a day! You have to know your limits and realize that it is okay to say no. I’m not suggesting you isolate yourself from everyone, I think we all need people to make it through hard times. For me, that person is primarily my husband but I also lean on my mommy and sister. Ultimately all I’m saying is this: don’t feel like you have to accept every invitation that comes your way just because it’s the holiday. On the flip side though, you may want to consider how going out and being surrounded by family and friends could be good for you, too.
- Find a way to remember your baby during the holiday – Do something extra special to help you feel closer to the baby you lost. I’ve known people to hang special Christmas ornaments or stockings for their babies. Personally, since Thanksgiving I’ve worn a special piece of jewelry to family gatherings, holiday parties, and pretty much every where else I go. I’ve also watched our pregnancy reveal videos a few times and it warms my heart. We surprised our family with the news while playing Mad Gab at Christmas dinner last year. Other than ultrasound pictures and hearing the heartbeat, this is one of the only other positive memories I have of my little one. It is such a healing element for me to watch those videos and remember August this wa way.
- Sponsor a child for Christmas – Marcus and I have so much love to give. August sparked a fire in our hearts and I seriously cannot wait to love on and spoil my future babies! These feelings are totally magnified during this holiday shopping season when you feel like you “should be” buying gifts for your new baby, and it’s easy to get down about that. While you may not be able to celebrate Christmas with your child the way you envisioned you would, you can still put a smile on a little one’s face! Sponsoring or adopting a child in need for the holidays while grieving the loss of your own may not be easy. But for me, just thinking of buying gifts for a baby or child who needs them ministers to my heart in ways I can’t even describe. It is the epitome of what Jesus meant when he said “it is more blessed to give than to receive”. This idea came to me as my hubby and I were out doing some Christmas shopping last week, and I really wish we had thought of it sooner! If I can find someone to sponsor this year I’d still like to do it, but it will definitely be something we start doing next year. You may even want to consider sponsoring a child that’s the same gender and age that your child would have been had they survived. Admittedly, this has the potential to be a painful experience. It may evoke negative feelings to shop for a child and buy things you would have bought for your own, so I would definitely pray about it and talk with your partner before committing to something like this. Same goes for my next tip.
- Buy gifts for your future baby – So back in the day, an unmarried woman would keep a chest full of things she intended to use in her future married life – it was called a hope chest. Today it looks more like the storage trunk at the foot of your bed. Why aren’t we applying this concept when trying to conceive a baby? A lot of people believe it is bad luck or a “jinx” to buy baby items before you are pregnant, but I believe there is nothing wrong with having faith in God’s ability to open your womb or bring a baby into your life through adoption. How many times have you walked past the baby section in Target in shame, feeling like you’ve been denied entry to some sort of VIP section of the club? Let me let you off the hook: you can go there, and you can buy things. Clearly this is for me too, as I haven’t exactly worked up the courage to actually do this yet…but I think about it all the time. At first I found the idea of buying things for a baby I haven’t even conceived yet a little strange, but the more I think about it the more comfortable I become. Why not? Everything is on sale at this time of year anyway and you’re likely to find some good deals! It’s a great way to stay active and build excitement while you wait for your bundle of joy.
I truly hope this helps someone out there cope with their loss this Christmas. I understand that everyone handles miscarriage differently, so some of these tips may or may not help you on your personal journey. Overall, I pray that you find the strength and peace to enjoy the magic and joyousness of the holiday season, despite your situation. Please share ways you’ve been able to make it through this time of year after your loss! I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas to you!