At a Loss During the Holidays…
It’s hard not to reflect during the holiday season. My mind constantly reverts back to past celebrations, when it was just my husband and me, or when our son first experienced this magical time of year. But the Christmas that stands out the most for me took place 4 years ago. That Christmas was different for my family for many reasons. The biggest reason was the fact that the baby who was to be born that coming January no longer grew in my belly. I had lost him. And my story had changed tremendously from what it was supposed to be.
Though I had just suffered the devastating loss of a miscarriage in June, I was nearly 16 weeks pregnant with another child when Christmas came around in 2012. I was sitting in front of an ultrasound machine at my doctor’s office looking at this new, tiny little baby growing. Yes, I was very blessed to have been pregnant again soon after a miscarriage, and I was aware of this beautiful miracle. However, people can fail to realize that although life may have shifted gears and put me on a different path, the pain from the loss still lingers, especially during the holidays. I was supposed to be preparing for a different baby who was to be born a few weeks after Christmas, but instead I was still waiting for the new little one to become viable. It was very surreal and I had to make that holiday season of 2012 stand out in more positive ways that would always feel special for me.
The truth was that time in my life was hard to experience. I could not hide the pain I was feeling, but I knew I wanted to be able to experience healing and growth during the holidays instead of constant sadness. I kept busy, mostly by shopping. If we were invited to go somewhere new, even if it threw us off schedule, I was the first to leap at that chance. I wanted new adventures, near or far. I wanted to make new memories, ones that came with fun and exciting experiences. This kept me from moping around the house, staring at a room that was supposed to be a nursery, yet sat there, still full of non-baby essentials. We used the holiday season to start announcing this new pregnancy, making sure each reveal was unique and fun. Additionally, my husband and I decided to find out the gender of our new baby on Christmas morning. The ultrasound technician, who months prior had explained that we had lost our previous baby, now got the opportunity to tell a new story. She wrote down the baby’s gender and sealed it in an envelope. She was able to be a part of our future stories in a more positive light. Instead of dreading that Christmas morning, I was awake before anyone else in the house. These were experiences that helped my family, but most of all it helped me, cope with the holidays. These were ways I found to handle the changes of my life.
Many people ask how I got through the holidays. I think the main thing I tried to do was be present. When something so devastating happens, we feel empty. We feel like we’re simply walking through life. And even though I had a child at home and another on the way, if I didn’t take on these new opportunities, I would have only “got through” the holidays. I didn’t want to wake up and realize that I let that time with my 3 year old fly by. Of course I mourned; I felt the loss. But I also embraced the life I was living. The difficulties along with the beauty gave my life new meaning.
My story reflects a mother who lost a child and within months was pregnant with another. There are probably many others with similar stories. When I’m questioned about loss during the holidays, I think about how this particular time brings sadness to the surface. I tried to find time to self-reflect, but also take this time to embrace something new in life. Remember to be kind to yourself. Know that sadness will come along with this journey, but joy can also be found where you least expect it.