Monday, December 10

understanding and compassion*

portrait session, canon digital rebel xti

I know I've been quiet here. I've been quiet most everywhere this past week. As Christmas is approaching, so are the myriad of emotions that come with it for couples that are walking on this journey to conceive.

There are so many parts of Christmas that I love. The colors, the smells, the lights, the music, the promise of a few days when my whole family is gathered in one room singing, laughing, snuggling. The parts that cause some anxiety for me are the emphasis on children, babies and the concept of a complete family with presents under the tree for more than just me and my husband. Every time I have walked into a store there have been fully pregnant women holding onto toddlers with more trailing behind. Children squealing with delight. Babies clapping with glee. Families walking in a sweet line, all holding hands.

Seeing this fills me with joy and hope for our near future but there are other sacred emotions attached. I want to sponge the good stuff in and while I am opening myself up to absorb, the sudden realization comes to mind that we're not part of this reality yet and I am not quite sure when we will be. My heart starts racing and its hard to catch a breath. At times I've had to leave and sit in the car to ground myself, breathe again, call my husband and let the tears flow. He feels it too.

I've been afraid to share this here because this is supposed to be a time of bliss for all and I didn't want to be messy and admit I wasn't blissing out. But the truth is, its hard, full of conflicting emotions and makes me want to shop online rather than put myself through this over and over again (thanks, yummy Jen for permission to do so).

I haven't even decorated my tree yet. I gazed at it this morning while sipping my tea and realized that it is such a representation of how I feel. Half of the lights are on it and it is partly glowing, partly dull...push and pull...this is how I feel.

There was an email in my inbox the other day from Resolve...an organization to help couples through (in)fertility. In it was a link to an article about "Coping with the Holidays". Reading this I learned that what I am feeling is so completely normal. So normal that they have 24 hour hotlines so people can phone up, fall apart and get messy and imperfect during what is supposed to be the most joyful time of year. That all couples like us struggle with getting together with family when babies, children and fertile people are around. There were even ideas about using this as an opportunity to take a vacation rather than put yourselves into a potentially painful situation.

Earlier last week before this flood of emotions surfaced, I began to feel a calmness. I had realized I needed more hush. I was feeling a peace about my current cycle. I suppose this is an opportunity for me to practice grounding myself again. How can you practice peace when everything is peaceful, right? So, this is my opportunity to practice meditating and centering myself in the midst of anxiety. To discipline myself and take those moments to quiet my mind rather than allow too many consuming and paralyzing thoughts rooted in fear.

I know I am not alone in this. So many of you on this journey that have reached out to me know exactly where I am at, where we are at. It's comforting to know we're not alone. I am gently going to invite all of you lovely sisters and brothers on this journey to gather in a spirit-circle and use this as an opportunity to practice along with us.

I can imagine with all the joy that comes along with Christmas, so does understanding and compassion. I'd like to believe our loved ones will feel that for us too and be gentle when we need them to be.

If you're trying to be all blissed out for the sake of those around you, know you can put your stories here and all you will receive is understanding and compassion from a heart that feels it with you deeply.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This will be my 3rd Christmas with this juxtaposed sadness and joy. I love Christmas. To the point that I would wear a jingle bell around my neck for the whole month of December. Now, every year my tree gets smaller, my mood spacier, and my gift giving less enthusiastic, especially for the kids. I know that's not fair for them, but I can't help it. Last year I found I was pregnant right after Christmas. I lost that one, and have been fighting those memories this season.
This year my family wanted everyone to go to Disney for Christmas. Me, not wanting to rain on anyone's parade agreed. I'm more excited now, though I think I'm forcing it. I've decided to think of this as the last thing we get to do as free adults, because soon we will be parents and no longer will we have the freedom we have now. It makes it better,... even for just one moment...

Love to you Denise. My heart sings songs to you of comfort.

December 10, 2007 at 9:06:00 AM PST  
Blogger Stacy said...

i know these feelings all too well, love. i lost my two previous pregnancies during the holidays (one at thanksgiving and one at christmas) and had to go on seeing family and friends during that time with their children in the form of christmas cards, in public and celebrating in homes. it is still painful to think about and i would often find myself seeking solace in a quiet bedroom somewhere.

i think this is part of why jimmy and i don't usually decorate and would often dream of traveling to places like Paris during the holidays instead. we even took a Caribbean cruise one year during the holidays and did all adult-only things. (read: tons of cocktails) {wink}

i hear you.
i love you.
i send you a large dose of understanding and compassion, along with a heart-full of hope for what is yet to come.


December 10, 2007 at 9:28:00 AM PST  
Blogger michael morrow said...

WOW, thanks for he invitation to talk about something weighing on me for years.

As the divorced father of six children, I have been without my children living in my home from a different space than you folks longing to conceive. I went through that too, only for a short time and many years ago.

This note is to acknowledge all us divorced people who really miss, love and long to be validated in spite of dumb, angry, sometimes even ugly choices. I am not looking for sympathy, I'm not a victim. I absolutely love, adore, and miss my children. Mistakes, no doubt. But lets all us parents who have shared intimacy, conceived, and bore children, lets all put away the sorry, angry, ill-ness feelings of not being enough, guilt about not being able to hold a family/marriage together, all the stuff we believe and allow society to believe that we are failures, it's all bs. Lets rise above the crap we held onto that caused the rifts and dissension, lets remember the feelings we had for the other spouse/parent the day we made love and conceived those beautiful deserving children. Lets let our children know the loving, respectful feelings we hold for the other person, regardless and in spite of the hidden agendas and confusion. We are not our ignorance, that's notwho we are. We are loving, deserving, human beings. If we want love and forgivness, we are required to extend love and forgiveness without reservation.

December 10, 2007 at 9:59:00 AM PST  
Blogger mccabe said...

you don't have to be anything but yourself for me, my dear.

although i do not know the exact feeling you speak of...i can feel with you this ache that is triggered by the the time of year. i can imagone the stuggle.

i am always here if and when you need me, sweet girl.

all my love
mccabe xx

December 10, 2007 at 10:24:00 AM PST  
Blogger kristen said...

i ache for women on this journey with their fertility. i see and hear so much in my acupuncture practice, it's hard for me to not well up when my patients talk each week.

i know it's not professional (boundaries and all), but i stand shoulder-to-shoulder with my men and women and the empathy and understanding i feel sometimes consumes me.

i send you peace and love denise and thank you for sharing your story - it really does help us all. xo

December 10, 2007 at 10:29:00 AM PST  
Blogger Shannon said...

I almost didn't get a tree this year. I almost did no decorating. And then got asked to host Christmas for my extended family. Out came the boxes, ornaments, lights, the holiday wine glasses. I forced myself to "bliss out" but now I am glad that I did.

I love the mood that the lights on the tree set. I can relax all evening gazing into them with the hopes of what next Christmas may bring.

Sending you Christmas Hope...

December 10, 2007 at 10:46:00 AM PST  
Blogger Tanaya said...


You are so bold and strong to admit that everything isn't perfect, even during this season when marketing and advertisers tell us that it is supposed to be.

This is such a hard time of year for so many people. Allowing ourselves to feel and experience and share the dark, along with the light is a beautiful thing. Everyone needs to feel like they belong, and just hearing that other souls are struggling, right along with us, well it just makes us feel more human. And together, maybe we can all lighten the load, bring each other up, just a little bit.

With love, compassion, and understanding. Tanaya

December 10, 2007 at 11:00:00 AM PST  
Blogger pERiWinKle said...

Beautiful Bohogirl ~
"be so very gentle with your dear soul, oh loved one.
All will be revealed when the time is ready.
Trust and breathe.
Sink into this moment with complete abandon."

These words really touched my heart...and reminds me to be gentle with heart...

December 10, 2007 at 11:02:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lost two prior pregnancies during the holidays so I understand how you feel. Each time I was so elated knowing I would be a mom and somehow it just was not the right time and I was frustrated and upset. However as soon as I became content in the path that was chosen for me at the time I became blessed.

You and your husband are always in my thoughts and prayers.

December 10, 2007 at 11:37:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although my struggle is about something different, I also find I am a dichotomy of emotions. One part of me is so happy and joyous. The other is sad. Deeply sad.

And similar to you, I am more interested in allowing myself to be whatever I truly am, rather than what I think I should be.

What I should be changes based on who I ask. What I am is authentic. Messy, sometimes unhinged and sprinkled with the unknown, but real.


December 10, 2007 at 12:01:00 PM PST  
Blogger pERiWinKle said...

Sweet friend....imagine a rainbow....we are standing on top...counting down to three to go down...to discover what is at the end of the rainbow...hold my hand...and take a peek at http://periwinkle-lin.blogspot.com/, to have the actual peak at a fabulous artist!
It felt to me as if I have found THE pot of gold...for today! :-)
Hold my hand...let's count...3....2....xx

December 10, 2007 at 12:44:00 PM PST  
Blogger mames said...

i give my understanding and compassion to you and your husband during this time of the year and in your lives...you are an amazing honest raw woman who i know brings such beauty into the lives you touch. i just want to thank you for bringing such powerful reminders to live fully into my days with your words and wisdom.

December 10, 2007 at 12:58:00 PM PST  
Blogger Unknown said...

I know just how you feel. It's so hard. I'm losing my third pregnancy in a row as I write this. All my husband and I want is a child and it seems like this impossible dream. Visiting with all my pregnant family and friends during the chipper holiday time has just made me want to crawl under the covers and sleep through it all. But, I know that putting one foot in front of the other is the only way to get where I want, so I make the choice to keep my chin up (and maybe throw in a nap here or there just to get it out of the way) :)

December 10, 2007 at 1:00:00 PM PST  
Blogger AnnaC said...

You are definitely not alone.

Anyone without significant others I am sure go through similar emotions.

Though I have my parents and siblings and good friends ... not having a traditional inner circle, partner and children, makes this time challenging every year.

For perspective, I think about the foster children who have aged out of the system with no one to call family, not one person... and I remember to count my blessings.

But even that perspective doesn't keep the tears from my eyes or the quiet empty feeling.

I think sharing these very real feelings is an excellent way to bring happiness to the holidays for all of us who find these times challenging.

Thank you for having the courage to say it and for trusting this community to embrace you/us.

December 10, 2007 at 1:09:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My version of this is missing my parents around the holidays. Both have died, and even though I have my own home and partner now, I still can't help feeling somehow lost, even abandoned, with no "home" to go back to, without their special doting love.

The most vulnerable, irrational part of the feeling is this sense that I'm somehow not worthy of having living parents, that it's a reflection on me, like I'm the odd person out for a reason - like not getting chosen for sides in gym class.

My in-laws are sweet, but I find myself resenting them, getting downright pissed-off at all their quirks ... but most of all that they aren't *my* adorable parents, and that they get to be alive while my mom and dad are not. I know it isn't charitable or fair, but the feeling is still there all the same!

Thanks ... it felt good to whisper that to the universe :)

December 10, 2007 at 3:18:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing these feelings wrapped up in such lovely, wise words. i have a similarly mixed response to holidays but for different reasons. what you've written is very much in the spirit of this time of year - full of compassion and generosity.

December 10, 2007 at 4:38:00 PM PST  
Blogger Clover said...

Hi BoHo. I was just "blog-hopping" and ran smack-dab into your blog. I've loved reading some of your most recent posts. Especially this latest one.

Know you're not alone with those emotions. Usually, Christmas time is my all-time favortite time of year. I have one son, and even though he is the apple of my eye, this Christmas is not going to be like the others for me. I lost a child to miscarriage last week, something I never expected nor thought I would face. I keep trying to tell myself that if I actually start putting up decorations and do a little shopping, I'll get my mind off of it all.
Thank you for writing what you did. It has touched me and let me know that I'm not the only one who is going through the roller coaster of emotions during this time of the year. It just sucks that anyone has to actually have these emotions at all. But, I guess that's part of being human.

Oh, and I so admire you for saying goodbye to the corporate world to do what you love. I wish I could get enough guts to commit myself to the art that I love. Maybe some day soon....with the right inspiration. :)

December 10, 2007 at 5:15:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey sweet one,

I appreciate your honesty in this post. I think it's so normal for you to have a myriad of emotions during this season... makes complete sense.

My sad emotions come from a different place. My grandmother died in July of this year... this will be the first Christmas ever where she isn't there for me to hug. The past few years especially, when her mind has been completely gone and she was wheelchair-bound, she became my sidekick at the holidays. As I struggled with more social/family anxiety, I could find refuge in tending to her, loving on her, sitting next to her and letting her talk her nonsense words into my ears. Amidst the chaos, I loved to kneel down next to her where I felt safe and not judged at all... where we could be in our own little worlds and no one would bother us. She won't be there this year... our Christmas will be different for the first time and it saddens my heart.

The other place where sad emotions grow for me this season... not having my other half. Realizing for the first time ever (just in the past couple of months) that I don't even know if this person is a he or she. You can imagine the kinds of confusing thoughts/feelings this has evoked. And in this season, I feel more alone than ever... more confused and unsure and insecure than ever... no one close to me knows of this struggle. I wish to find my *person* and haven't yet. Hopefully someday we will find each other. And hopefully by then I will have peace with who I am.

I apologize for this long comment. I just needed a place to spill my own feelings of sadness, confusion, insecurity... and you offering your compassion, this seemed like the perfect place.


December 10, 2007 at 5:58:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is our fifth married christmas ... without child. We've been trying all along. It hurts, oh how I know it hurts. The only thing that keeps me going is our "own" traditions -- the fact that we can't help but open gifts (WAY before the holiday) ordered online as they arrive, that we decorate our tree with a good bottle of red wine, that we make a delicious meal alone on christmas eve (gourmet style!), and that we sleep in on christmas morn alone in each others' arms. It may not be what we most want but it is still blissful.

I wish you peace in this time of trouble. You inspire me so much with your writings. I wish I knew you in real life. For I think we would be friends. :)

December 10, 2007 at 6:09:00 PM PST  
Blogger madelyn said...

This is so strange to be reading this
sweetie ~
One Christmas I was so dejected
at not being able to get pregnant ~
and was talking to my Mom about it~
I remember it so clearly
and then...

afer Christmas it turns out I WAS

I know how you are feeling and
understand so completely ~
Christmas is a joy but it is so
intense ~ there is no quiet
space to hide with all the
lights and music and ads etc and
people shopping.

I have you in my heart and
I send a warm hug to you.

December 10, 2007 at 6:11:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah yes, count me among those who get it. I lost count of the number of Christmas's that have pastsed since my husband and I began our journey to have kids (five? Six?). Every year, we receive more and more holiday cards with pictures of our friends' babies and still no toys are under our tree.

This year is a bit easier for us - there are still no toys under the tree and nothing growing in my belly, but husband and I have decided to adopt and knowing that the universe is working its magic such that one Christmas soon - maybe next year, maybe the year after - we'll finally have our miracle eases my saddness.

I want you to know that your thoughts, your feelings are completely valid and you are so not alone. I also want you to knwo that you won't always feel this way. Your dreams will come true...mine will as well, even if it doesn't happen exactly the way I thought it would.

December 10, 2007 at 7:17:00 PM PST  
Blogger Jessica S. said...

I do not know what you are going through, but I acknowledge your pain and sadness and I am sorry.
Yes, I am blissful for others this holiday season as most holiday seasons...I enjoy this time of year, the weather, the changing of nature. However, the holidays are painful reminders of leaving one parent to go to the other. And now, I see it in my stepchildren and I ache for them, but for myself as well, for the memories of wondering what mom or dad was doing on Christmas or Thanksgiving and how being an only child isnt fair bc I have no one to share this hurt, lonliness and pull I feel towards each of them. I am tired of faking holiday bliss, it wears me out. Thanks for giving me permission to tell this story. Hugs to you beautiful.

December 10, 2007 at 7:45:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a trying time of year, come on didn't It's a Wonderful Life teach us how depressing it can be? Be kind & gentle with yourself, letting those around you know what's going on is so important.

This will be the first year without DH's parents involved in our lives and I have needed DH to let me know what he needs from me as I simply have never gone through any loss. It's hard, Christmas is hard, but filling it with rituals and allowing yourself quiet moments to be still in Boho Boy's arms are important, too.


December 10, 2007 at 7:51:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not only for people who are going through your journey, but I think for many people this time of year can lead to depressing thoughts and an unjoy that is unshakable.

I commend you for being able to speak about your messiness at this time, because I think it would be easier for a lot of people if they thought they could too.

Embrace the messiness!

December 10, 2007 at 8:11:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's the Christmas cards that I'm dreading this year. In years past I loved posing with our gangly dog and reveling in our hip newlywed childlessness. This January marks the second year of trying for a baby with no luck. I just can't bring myself to come up with some witty "yeah, another year and no kids..." At thanksgiving, when approached by the inlaws about when we were gonna have one, I took my sister's good advice and told my mother in law "that would require me sobering up.... I don't see that happening." It stopped her short and let her know that now is not the time to remind me that we're failing at fulfilling our dreams. So, you are most definetly not alone sweety. And I'm so thankful you have a husband that is right there with you. I love my man so much it hurts..... but when it comes to the hurt and depression of not getting pregnant, he's just sort of at a loss for words and can only hang in the door way and tell me its all gonna be alright. Those words just sound hollow after a couple years. But I'm reminded that the road may be much longer and may be shaped with twists and painful losses. My prayers and love go out to you sisters and brothers who have lost children along the path. Thats a reality I never even let myself contemplate.

December 10, 2007 at 8:14:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi dear one. i have dreaded the holidays for a different reason, but the pain is none the less the same....i hated the music, the shopping, the green and red sweaters, the decorating ~ all of it. not really ~ i was just sad inside and i thought there wasnt room for those kind of emotions around such a festive time.
what worked for me was limiting my over- doing it,
shopping on the computer, playing folk music when the xmas music just killed me, and bunkering down with loving people who didnt expect me to behave a certain way. create a holiday that will fit for you and c and give you exactly what you both need.
i love you girlie, and so adore your honesty and tender heart.
jen gray

December 11, 2007 at 4:23:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

December 11, 2007 at 5:54:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I met a woman in the mall this past weekend. She was accompanying her sister while her sister's kids were getting their picture taken on Santa's lap.
I was sitting in the nearby food court, having a coffee, when I saw this woman burst into tears, and come towards me. The tables were all so crowded and full so I offered for her to sit with me. She explained her own experience of trying to conceive and the whole Santa picture with her new little niece getting her first pictures on Santa's lap was just too much for her. She had a melt-down right there in the food court, in front of me, a stranger. I ordered her a cup of herbal tea and I will tell you the same thing I told her.
Christmas has become all about the commercialism and so much less about Christmas. We romantisize gift giving and I've noticed there are so many gifts marketed for expectant mothers and babies. Expectant parents, grandparents and parents of young children are the consumers who spend the most money...therefore everywhere you look are cute little baby items. Everything is so "in your face", I can only imagine the sheer torture for you and other women in your circumstances to even walk through a mall.
Damn right...go sit in your car to catch your breath, ground yourself, and try to cope with this season. I suggest you honour your feelings and don't try to be all "blissed" out for other people's sake. This must be the most difficult time for you and your hubs.
Hang in there, speak your truth, feel your feelings, and don't ever forget this time next year, you may very well be in that Santa line with your new little Boho baby getting his first pic on Santa's lap.
You're so good and real Boho, and your feelings are so valid. Don't let anyone make you feel otherwise.

December 11, 2007 at 6:14:00 AM PST  
Blogger Lucia said...

This post (and the comments too) was just what I needed to read. I thought I was the only one!

Thank you. x

December 11, 2007 at 9:40:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for what you're going through. Anything I can think of to say will either come out sounding cliche or condescending...but I follow your story because I'm inspired by your honesty with the struggle.

Like one of the other posters above, the holidays suck for me because I'm divorced. To make it easier on the kids I gave my ex husband every Christmas Day. Trust me, there is really nowhere to go except a movie on xmas day! And spending it sitting alone in a theater with happy couples all around doesn't help much. I keep telling myself someday I'll have someone special to share these holidays with, and it will make the lonely years worthwhile. But I'm also trying not to defer my happiness, to find a way to enjoy life here and now.

Still, my struggle is thrown into sharp perspective by yours. I will be praying for you and boho boy. Pray for me too!

December 11, 2007 at 9:45:00 AM PST  
Blogger Colorsonmymind said...

Damn it I am shedding big elephant tears. I wish I could muster all my hearts love into words. It doesn't seem possible.

I can say that I am doing all my shopping online-except for one miserable trip to walmart today for stocking stuffers.

I am battling so many emotions this year too. Anger, sadness, guilt.

I really felt so much love reading through the comments here. It is so strangely comforting to know you are not alone-or that I am not alone. I hope it also gives you comfort.

Your openess and honesty brings so much validation, comfort and love.

I hate to say it but today I thought-ahhh in 2 weeks this holiday crap will be over.

I love you

December 11, 2007 at 4:12:00 PM PST  
Blogger Swirly said...

I think there is a tremendous amount of pressure on everyone to be constantly cheerful around the holidays. But you know what I felt more than anything running errands yesterday? Exasperation. Be where you are...feel what you need to feel...your joy is always within you and doesn't go away in those moments when you are feeling overwhelmed. It is always there for you, darling.

December 12, 2007 at 10:25:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm so sorry and I understand the poignancy of the holidays, particularly Christmas and children. Once upon a time you asked for stories from those of us who have adopted. I don't know where you are with that, now, but I can tell you that my 12 year old, adopted at five months, is THE joy of my life! It doesn't matter a whit that I didn't birth her as I cannot imagine love greater than this. She IS child of my heart.

Best wishes to you this holiday season,


December 12, 2007 at 8:36:00 PM PST  
Blogger Jamie said...

Hi ~ I just lost a pregnancy in October after almost 7 years of trying to get pregnant. This was the first success that we have had...and lost. This loss feels greater than any other and I'm really having a hard time this holiday. Thank you...for reminding me that I'm not alone and that it's okay to get messy.

December 13, 2007 at 1:30:00 PM PST  

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