The Ghosts Of Christmas Past

Angel

On paper, I’m all set up to have a Norman Rockwell Christmas. I’m a mother to a three year old who has stars in her eyes about the season. I’m approaching the 14th week of what is, as far as I know, a healthy pregnancy. We have a tree with an angel on top and garland around our banister. Our house smells like cinnamon.

But then, underneath, there’s so much sadness.

Last Christmas, I woke up covered in blood. I left my daughter just after opening stockings to get an ultrasound. And at that ultrasound we found out our much-longed-for baby no longer had a heartbeat. It was one of the worst days of my life. I came home from the clinic and put on a good face. I didn’t want to ruin the magic for Lettie, my living child. We opened presents and I exclaimed in excitement over every little thing. I pushed all that grief aside, put it in a neat little box marked “Christmas,” and left it there. And sure, I did grieve some over the next few weeks and months, but my deepest, most secret sadness remained tucked away.

Here’s the thing about grief: it doesn’t like being ignored. It’s stubborn, and it comes out one way or another.

Two weeks ago, we went to the hardware store to pick out our Christmas tree. The same hardware store we went to last Christmas. As we were paying for everything, I found myself in the middle of a panic attack. Last year I was pregnant, just like this year. Last year I felt so much hope for the future, just like this year. It’s going to happen again, I thought, I’m going to lose this baby, too, just like last year.

And it’s not just the miscarriage that is making me melancholy. I miss my mom more than usual this time of year, too. I wish she were here now. I wish she were here last year. I wish she were here always.

Christmas is hard. Pregnancy after infertility and loss is hard. I keep waiting for someone to come along and say, “Just kidding, we’re taking this baby away from you, too! Sorryyyyy!”

There is always something to be fearful about. Last Friday, we met with a genetic counselor, and it’s official: we can’t do any non-invasive blood testing because the vanishing twin could jack up the results. So we’ll be going into our 20-week ultrasound blind. The genetic counselor warned us they might find “soft markers” for genetic disorders at this ultrasound. The markers are pretty common and often mean nothing, but sometimes they’re indicative of downs or trisomy 13 or 18 or whatever else awful thing they’re on the lookout for. I am now terrified of this scan, and it’s still six weeks away.

On Monday, I brought homemade cupcakes to work. I tied a tag around each that said, “Baby B, due June 2016.” I wanted to do something fun to announce my pregnancy. I wanted to give this baby the celebration he or she deserves. But after I carefully placed the cupcakes on my co-workers’ desks, I walked to the bathroom and cried. My pregnancy was out there now, and I couldn’t take it back. No matter what happened, I couldn’t take it back.

And the thing is, I feel guilty for feeling all of this. I’m finally pregnant after wishing for it for so long, and I can’t even embrace it? What is wrong with me? I have a beautiful daughter who is beyond excited for Christmas. Why can’t I be excited right along with her?

I’m having a tough time of it, you guys. I’m trying, I truly am, but some days the ghosts are really loud.

 

23 thoughts on “The Ghosts Of Christmas Past

    1. I’m late to the commenting game here, but thank you. Also, I’ve been meaning to tell you that I’ve had three root canals so far this pregnancy and baby is just fine, so try not to worry about yours! Xo.

      1. I’ve been behind on my commenting too! Oh thank you for telling me that! I had a cavity filled, and figured it would be about the same thing (a little more involved) but the same medication and such. Thanks again for putting my mind at ease!

  1. First and foremost I have to say absolutely nothing is wrong with you. I believe everything you are feeling is normal after the hell you’ve been through. In fact, and not to be a downer, but I expect many of your fears are going to stay with you for the entire duration of this pregnancy. And you know what, I hate RPL for doing this to you. I desperately hope this year’s Christmas is nothing like last year’s! Also, I firmly believe that no-one, absolutely no-one has the right to expect you to be excited and/happy at every moment of this pregnancy. Please try to be kind to yourself and allow yourself to feel whatever comes natural. The good and the bad.
    Also, I am so sorry that you are missing your mom right now. I truly understand and appreciate the longing that comes at this time of year. Please know my heart is with you as we both work to enjoy the season while remembering.

  2. Oh no my friend. I am so sorry you are feeling all of this. I know how haunting and awful the memories of past can be. I am actually literally avoiding a huge and awesome park because it reminds me of hearing the horrible news of our last failure. The sadness and worry and heaviness is all so normal. You aren’t expected to forget the past or just pretend everything is good. I have often found that moments of happy news and joy can jolt me into the sadness of a loss pretty easily too. I am so sorry for the pain of last year and for the pain of losing your mother and for the long road you have had to take.

    The only thing I can tell you is that this year is different. This Christmas is different. You have that beautiful baby growing in your belly. Something you have wished and pleaded so very hard for. I hope you are able to find moments of peace and joy but are easy on yourself too. We are all here for you. Xo

  3. Oh Tanya I’m in tears for you and how you must be feeling right now. I can understand how defeated and tired you might feel sometimes. This journey after IF & loss is fucking brutal on its own, without having to throw something climactic like the xmas holidays into the mix. You’re amazingly strong, not only to go through this with a brave face, but to always be putting others ahead of you, like Lettie last xmas. You’ve never folded, despite all the shitty cards you were dealt, and it’s really conflicting to allow yourself to believe that you could possibly come out on TOP. You’ve got this. This miracle baby is THE one. She (? just a hunch) is a fighter and a survivor just like her dear mommy, and she is here to stay. She’s here to make you cry like a baby when her slimy, vernix-covered little body is plopped on your belly for the first time. She’s here to help restore a little more of your faded faith. I wish you a wonderful, and even boring Christmas! Thinking of you lots. Xoxox

  4. I’m so sorry you’re having such a rough time. It all sounds completely understandable — I don’t think you’re being nutty, just normal. I know that doesn’t make it easier, though. :-/

    Have you asked them about doing the anatomy scan earlier? We had an early scan at 17 weeks with this pregnancy and it was so reassuring to have normal results come back more than a week before the point at which our first baby died. They can do like 95% of the anatomy scan at 17 weeks, and 18 weeks is a totally normal time to do one as well. So you might not have to wait until 20 weeks if you’re anxious about it.

    Sending you hugs and lots of holiday hope!

  5. It’s so hard isn’t it? I had similar moments all through my pregnancy, crying with fear when I should have been rejoicing. What I will say is that you shouldn’t feel guilty for not “enjoying” your pregnancy. There WILL be moments when you feel elation and happiness, but in my experience the fear never goes away – and that is okay. Looking back I have no regrets over the worry and anxiety pregnancy caused me, right up until I went into labour. Instead I just feel overwhelming relief that it was all okay in the end. You can’t revel in pregnancy after miscarriage – and it’s completely fine not to. You aren’t missing out, or denying yourself pleasure, you’re processing grief that you wouldn’t be able to process in the same way WITHOUT a pregnancy. It’s all part of the journey. I would be consumed with worry over the 20 week scan also. You will get through this. One day at a time. Let the grief do what it needs to do. When your baby is born and you reach the other side your tears will spring from a deep well of joy you had forgotten existed. You can do this. One day at a time. xxxxx

  6. Um…there is nothing wrong with you? You are my inspiration! I think of you when I lose my shit over sunglasses and chocolate.
    When I see a post from you, I get so excited! I love how you write and how you share your thoughts and feelings in such a way that I get to experience them too. I am so proud of you for still blogging – you’ve been through some tuff stuff my darling and yet here you are, still checking in with all your adoring fans. I couldn’t have done it had I been you and been through what you have…I am a mere mortal by comparison! Honestly, this Christmas, 2015, it’s not the hardest thing you’ve ever done. And you won’t get it back! And you can’t change the path that lead you here. So just have the Christmas that you have right now. It can be whatever you want it to be…so how about a nice new tradition so that it is different to last year? Draw a line in the sand at this point in time and say from now on I believe in Santa and this baby.
    Many big hugs and kisses from across the globe! Xxx

  7. I had a little cry for you when I read this. It’s totally, totally understandable the way you are feeling. I like Faye’s point that you are processing grief that you can only do because you’re pregnant – it’s inevitable that this is happening and there is nothing wrong with you. C was born blue and unresponsive after being squeezed a bit too much on the way out, and I realised that I still hadn’t let go of my conviction that my whole pregnancy was “just kidding”. Be really kind to yourself, eat too much Christmas food, watch both versions of Miracle on 34th Street, smell Lettie’s hair 50 times a day, know that prayers are being said for you and your baby all over the world. xoxo

  8. I am right there with you. Its like you were inside my head with this post. I don’t have a living child, but I have been through a loss too and 11+ years of struggling with infertility. I feel the same exact way about my pregnancy now. Like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. I love when I get to see them on the big screen, and I know that they’re there, alive, growing and beautiful. But what happens tomorrow? Could this all end tomorrow, or what about the next day? I also feel the same about announcing it. Only a few people know at job #1, and everyone knows at job #2. I don’t even know if i’ll announce anything, or just let everyone figure it out or finally ask me. Every week that passes I’m amazed that I’m this far along (12 weeks tomorrow – also due in June 🙂 ) I am relieved to know that someone else feels the same way. And I also think that this is totally normal to feel this way. Going through a loss is very traumatic to the brain and heart. And it’s even surprised me how much of a scar it has left on me. And I don’t know if I’ll ever be 100% with this pregnancy until they are in my arms. I feel like I’ll always have some sort of fear/anxiety. But we’ll get through this! Week by week, and all of a sudden it will be here.

  9. Sending you a huge hug Hun. I think everything you are feeling is completely normal, i have never been pregnant myself yet, but can only imagine the emotional issues of what you have had to deal with and am so sorry! I really hope the worry eases up soon for you. You certainly are a strong women and I bet an amazing mom 🙂

  10. I have been thinking of you ever since you emailed earlier this week and have been meaning to sit down and write this response but now you’ve posted I will write it here. You have every right to be filled with fear. You have had none of the opportunities most preggos have for reassurance (NIPT, Nuchal) and it is only by having these results that my anxiety has eased. And to be honest I still have an irrational fears out a late loss and because of this I haven’t even mentioned this pregnancy of Facebook. I think you need to go easy on yourself. Yes, try to work through the fears and focus in those positive pregnancy affirmations but don’t be down on yourself for feeling sadness for your past experience and fear for the future. All this just makes you normal. Sending you buckets of love and hugs. We will all be with you all the way through this. Xxxx

  11. You are such a strong woman and it does you good to stop and think hey ‘I am so strong I have been through so much s**t and I am still standing’. Today is two years to the day I found out my first baby had died, no heartbeat when they did the scan. I think this would be horrific no matter when but it being close to christmas I clearly remember every little thing in the days running up and after and having to deal with all the festive stuff when all you want to do is curl up alone. Last Christmas, well I can not begin to imagine what you went through. As one of the other girls said you can not change history and sadly you can not forget the pain but you can move forward and make this a special Christmas with your family. Create some beautiful Christmas memories. You have so much to look forward to in the new year and next Christmas is going to be the best ever for the four of you! Just remember you are a wonderful strong woman and an amazing mother. Sending big hugs and love. xox

  12. It’s all totally understandable, but I hope the further along you get the more at peace you are. Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas and amazing new year!

  13. I understand your feelings and have felt most of them. The panic of telling people you are pregnant again after loss; of trigger situations; of the moments when you lose hope in the current pregnancy because what if it happens again? I think you are brave to try to honor this pregnancy despite the past…that takes guts. Some tears in the bathroom are the collateral for this a crazy, brave thing you are doing – now publicly. I hope and pray for peace for you. I know you could use some now and in the coming week or two. Your little ones are so lucky to have you as a loving, compassionate parent. Xo

  14. There is nothing wrong with you, at all. I honestly think it would be more surprising if you were completely calm and nonchalant. The holidays are a wonderful time in some respects, but in others it can be so hard if you are dealing with grief and loss. It’s okay to feel those feelings.

  15. Phew. I can relate to this so much. Remember how I couldn’t even truly bond with baby A for weeks after he was born? That fear haunted every cell, every breath, every second of every day I carried him and many weeks after he arrived. I still feel my heart stop many times a week terrified something, someone, has stolen him from me. I wish I could tell you it gets easier. It hadn’t for me and I think I am going to get help. But I really believe in you. I believe in this baby. And I am sending your way all the love, endurance, understanding and quiet warm hugs I can. I wish I could make it easier. Please know you’re not alone and you have no reason to feel badly for being fearful. It’s a testament to your deep love and longing for these children of yours.

  16. You’re amazing and you’re TRYING and that’s what’s important.Those babies/those experiences deserve a thought too, even if it brings you down. The important part is there are happy and joyous moments too on the flipside. You’re here and you’re making it. HUGS!!!!

  17. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I’m sending you loads and loads of love. The holidays can be hard no matter what it’s supposed to look like. You’re doing an amazing job! Hang in there. xxx

  18. Hi – I just came across your blog and am enjoying reading about your experience. I am struggling with infertility myself and fear I may have endometriosis as I have pre- and post-menstrual spotting as well as autoimmune Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. I have been thinking about seeing Dr. Braverman. It seems like you have had a good experience with him. Would you recommend working with him and how was the lap – was it a hard recovery? What made you decide to do that instead of a couple of months of Lupron? I’m trying to gather as much info as possible before I head into ivf this year. Please email me your thoughts about Braverman and the lap if you have time. Congratulations on your pregnancy! Best wishes – Sarah

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