I think we all place so much emphasis on ‘the most wonderful time of the year’. We’re surrounded by images of seemingly perfect families enjoying their perfect Christmas - be it IRL, on social media or even in films and adverts. At this time of year it is easier for us to imagine what we are missing out on and it can feel like we are having our noses rubbed in it. The ugly feelings of jealousy and resentment are rife and they make us feel like shit and want to withdraw from festivities.
As the year draws to a close we look back and evaluate what we have accomplished and often when all we want is a baby we feel like we have failed.
It’s like playing a video game - level 2015 FAILED, level 2016 FAILED, level 2017 FAILED and so on. It’s almost as if we use Christmas as a marker of success and if we can’t have a baby in our arms at Christmas then we will sure as hell try our very best to be pregnant by the time it comes around. When this doesn’t happen it causes further disappointment and self loathing.
Since starting TTC I have found Christmas so triggering and my recollections of the previous 12 months always turned to an evaluation of my ability (or inability for the most part) to fall pregnant and hold on to the pregnancy.
The grief and significance of each loss is highlighted in my eyes but often misunderstood or ignored by others as people don't know what to say or do for the best. They feel like they should acknowledge our troubles but don't want to upset me. It really is very tricky all round. Take a look on our instagram page for advice about how to manage this.
Christmas 2012 - We had just started TTC and imagined how lovely the next Christmas would be to have a baby in the family.
Christmas 2013 - I initially thought I was suffering with an incredibly long hangover following a heavy session at my work Christmas party but on Christmas eve I did a test, just in case. We could not believe our eyes when we saw a plus sign. It was the best gift we could have ever wished for. We couldn’t keep it a secret so by Boxing Day everyone knew!
Christmas 2014 - We were dreading it. A year prior we had so many hopes and dreams for the year ahead. We had miscarried for the first time a few weeks after Christmas at 7 weeks. It was such a shock, I'd heard that this happened but hadn't considered it might actually happen to me. It was heartbreaking but we decided to get straight back on track and fell pregnant on the next cycle. Unfortunately we lost that pregnancy too and by the time Christmas 2014 came round we had suffered a 3rd miscarriage.
Having already seen a heartbeat and experiencing lots of reassuring symptoms I felt confident going for a scan at 11 weeks but I will never ever forget the moment the nurse told me how sorry she was that the heartbeat could not be found.
I was booked in the next day for an operation to have the 'products' removed so they could be sent off for testing. The whole experience was very traumatic on its own, let alone getting a phone call 6 weeks later, just before Christmas. They had the results back of the testing they had done on the 'products' and I was informed that it had been a partial molar pregnancy. The months of monitoring commenced.
Christmas 2015 - We were monitored for the molar pregnancy by Charing Cross Hospital until the spring of 2015. After this, we needed a distraction, some joy, something nice to look forward to. Our lives were being taken over by sadness, bitterness and heartache. In May we started planning our wedding for the following January. I didn't actually mind the thought of being pregnant at the wedding so we decided to 'take a break' and stop trying but without taking precautions. We hoped that it would happen if we took the advice from others so we 'stopped trying so hard' and 'just relaxed' but alas it didn't happen for us, of course it didn't. However, Christmas 2015 had a different focus so it wasn't all that bad. We looked forward to the wedding the following month.
Christmas 2016 - We had 2 early miscarriages shortly after we got married, one of which required an operation for removal of the 'products' again. Following this I insisted on a specialist referral because I wanted answers and was fed up with being fobbed off with ‘it’s just bad luck’. My care was transferred to a miscarriage specialist and they found out that I had a heart shaped womb. I had an operation booked for this in the following March so was told not to conceive in the meantime.
That Christmas was a frustrating one. 5 miscarriages down and still no real known cause. While we waited for the operation which probably wouldn't make any difference to our chances of becoming parents, so many of our family and friends we're starting, growing and even finishing making their families.
Christmas 2017 - My 6th miscarriage was an early one in September. It really knocked me and I began to lose all hope. I became quite depressed over the previous few years and I started to notice it more now this Christmas. We attended an open evening about adoption but I just couldn’t quite bring myself to give up on trying for a baby naturally. I still had unanswered questions and was seeing a specialist in the spring for more tests. That Christmas I felt under pressure to enjoy myself when all I wanted to do is hibernate.
The last thing I wanted was to make other people feel down and upset so I put my game face on and got shit faced on Prosecco in an attempt to be ‘fun Laura’ but I ended up just being a complete mess for the whole festive period.
Christmas 2018 - We had an interesting year. Our 7th pregnancy was an ectopic in January which resulted in an operation to remove my left tube and part of the uterus. We then started seeing an immunology specialist in April and had a load of new tests done. In June we bought our first house and in July we found out we were pregnant with number 8. Thanks to a new treatment plan we headed into Christmas 2018 with less than 3 months to go until our baby was due to arrive.
Christmas 2019 - Our first Christmas with baby Albert. Pregnancy after loss was really bloody tough. I never actually believed that I would have an alive baby in my arms but he arrived in early March by caesarean. He was small but healthy and was an absolute joy. He made us more broody.
We started trying again when he was only 5 months old because we wanted to have children close together. We thought we’d cracked the whole baby making thing. We knew what the problem was, had a treatment plan in place and it had worked first time. We hoped to have another baby in our family by next Christmas.
Christmas 2020 - Well COVID messed this whole year up for most people, including Christmas. However, 2020 was a bittersweet one for me. I met Bex and we founded The Worst Girl Gang Ever which was a real highlight but on the other side of things I also had another ectopic pregnancy, followed by a chemical pregnancy.
I was back under the care of the specialist and it seemed we were back on the road of loss, grief, trying and hoping for something we were not sure would ever come. Despite this we actually looked forward to xmas itself. Bertie didn’t quite understand what was going on but he was almost 2 and becoming a real little character.
Christmas 2021 - At TWGGE we starting running online baby loss support courses which have been a real lifeline to so many and I am incredibly proud of this work we are doing. In relation to my own baby making journey I had another chemical pregnancy at the end of the summer and my treatment plan has been changed as a result. I’m having acupuncture and was beginning to feel hopeful about having another baby within the next couple of years.
Having said that, just yesterday I found out that pregnancy number 12 was a chemical. After getting a faint positive test and it being the first cycle on my new drug regime, this week started off positively. I worked out the due date, started dreaming about our life with two, and thoughts turned to Bertie as a big brother.
I let myself believe. Why wouldn’t it work? But over the week that line has faded and yesterday morning it was gone. It’s knocked me, I feel stupid.
I’m back questioning if it will ever happen for us again, if there is any point in trying. Of course we will try again but I have to say that if that doesn’t happen by the time Bertie goes to school I think I want to call it a day. We are talking about a whole decade spent under the baby loss cloud, it’s a lot to deal with and there is only so long I can put us all through this for. Plus there is an almost 3 year old to consider in all of this now too and his happiness is what is most important.
The more shit we go through the more I realise what an absolute miracle he is and I will always wonder what it was that made him stick.
To everyone who is childless - not by choice, or missing a special baby this Christmas, be kind to yourself. It’s such a difficult time of year. Don’t feel pressured to celebrate if you don’t want to and take time out as a couple if that’s what you need. Self preservation is key! Get through it as best you can.
For those of you who need some help and support to get you through the festive period you can sign up to our FREE WEBINAR - TWGGE CHRISTMAS SURVIVAL GUIDE by joining our email list. Head to the homepage of our website and scroll down to the second green box to sign up to our emails (and there is a BONUS download of a free guide to the ugly feelings too, what’s not to love?).
If you want to check out our Pathway to Recovery and TTC After Loss courses then head over to the course page on the website. The next courses commence on January 10th.
Let’s hope 2022 is a good one all round!