Thursday, 3 January 2008

The Real Christmas letter.

A counterweight to the circulars stuffed into Christmas cards telling you all the things you did not want to know.

If I were to send one of those...... a truly honest one....... it might look like this.

Greetings friends.

We hope this letter finds you well (although being too happy is a bit gratuitous and I don't want to know if you are pregnant).

2007 has been a year of joy and crap. Mostly crap but there are a few miracles to celebrate within. Most importantly the fact that I have not descended into madness and that we continue strong as husband and wife despite the pressures of our circumstances on our relationship.

The year started with a new job for me (Barbara) at the same time as undergoing our first ever IVF cycle. Being only 7 months after the death of our daughter Maya it was a very loaded experience and induced trauma. I had frequent flashbacks, intense anxiety, and lost a lot of weight. My new job teaching kids with autism was very intense as I suddenly was landed with the high support class when another teacher quit. Whilst extremely challenging, it was the only experience that was demanding enough to make me stop thinking about myself and focus on something else for a moment. So each day I cried my way to school and then support some extremely distressed children who were regularly self harming or having intense and frequent "melt downs" and then return home and start my own grief and trauma again. I am grateful for a few friends who listened to me during this time and offered sympathetic murmurs.

The IVF cycle had the result of having three healthy embryos. One was transferred and two were frozen. The transfer did not take and I did not fall pregnant. I found out and managed to get a urinary tract infection and nits from the kids at school on the same day. Funny now (well the nits are) but not at the time.

Luckily it was school holidays after that and I spent time with my husband resting and grieving. We found the process of our first IVF cycle quit damaging to our relationship due to the high levels of stress we experienced so we spent the next few months talking and being gentle and trying to understand if there was a way forward - a way to do it again without hurting each other (unintentionally of course).

After a month or so it was the first anniversary of the death of our daughter Maya. We got together with a few friends and had a picnic. Her absence was felt keenly. My two closest friends and sister had had children in the meantime and seeing these three children together while Maya was gone was very difficult. Visiting the grave of your only child hurts.

I also caused a lot of pain to a friend who I had not acted well towards (not intentionally) but due to being so absorbed in my own grief. It was a friend who had been very supportive and also had an intense time (but very different in that she chose it). Still. I overlooked something and it made her angry. We recovered, but it shook me as I wondered how many other people felt this.

June brought on our second IVF attempt with the two frozen embryos. On the day of transplantation I drove to the clinic with my husband only to be called on the way to the clinic to be told that neither of the healthy embryos had survived the thaw. It was extremely uncommon as they have a survival rate of 9/10 at this clinic so to have 2 not survive was very bad luck.

Tell me something new.

We grieved again.

I experienced intense anger a the unfairness of our experience and took it out on life and myself.

My friend told me she was pregnant that week.

The next few months were spent regrouping, and strategising about how we would cope physically and emotionally with the next round of IVF which of course would be a fresh cycle. Which we did well. And found the next cycle to be quite bareable and maintained a strong hope throughout which helped us to be kind to each other as well as manage the stress of work and cycling. Well done us and though none of you saw this or knew it, we were a walking miracle for a while there.

My next door neighbour told me she was pregnant.

Once again on the day of transfer whilst driving to the clinic we got a phone call to say it had been cancelled. This time none of the embryos tested were healthy. They would die if they were transplanted.

This time I tried a few weeks of denial before going into grief and experienced a blessed and delicious numbness.

I spent may hours stressing about seeing my friend who was pregnant. The thought was unbareable and the actual experience not much better although survivable.

I was bridesmaid for a friends wedding. I could see she was really happy on the day which made me happy but I felt very removed from the experience and spent most of the day strategising about how I could get through without a melt down.

More people became pregnant.

I went to a first birthday of the aforementioned babies born after Maya. Bad idea. Did not cope at all and had to leave.

I didn't go to the next first birthday.

Thought for a few exciting days that I was pregnant but i wasn't.

Looked after by friends.

Jake and I are still working hard to find the way forward for us. But we are still doing it together. And that is a big blessing.

I am hoping that 2008 looks very different.

PLease forgive the general lack of me initiating contact over the last few years. I try to do it when I can.
I am sorry that I have totally dropped out of those organisations and commitees I used to participate in and contribute to. I am not up for it at this time. Sorry to my dear friend and sister who are pregnant. I won't be visiting you in hospital. I don't want to hold your beautiful babies cause I might not want to let go. Sorry I can't spend time with you. I still love you and miss you. Sorry to my husband for the many and lengthy times that I am emotionally inaccessable. I will try to be more available this year. Please be gentle and patient with me. Please believe in my love, and my intentions.

Ant to those who sent me a Christmas letter giving me details of your children's progress and favourite toys. I recycled it without reading it. Think of something else to say to me cause I can't make chatter about kids.

And to people who still have the illusion that you are in control of life. You drive me F**Kn crazy.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.



baby~amore' said...

I know words of comfort mean so little from a stranger but I could have written a similar letter a few years ago.(many times).My heart goes out to you.
I am sorry for the loss of your dear daughter ... my own DD passed way in utero at 26 weeks and was born still.
She was a natural pregnancy after 12 years infertility. We had one adopted son at the time. I warn you not to visit my blog - it is the happy ending via IVF (twins) I pray you will one day realise.
I understand the IVF path too but I can only imagine the pain of losing embryos and nothing to transfer after going through a stim cycle.
My daughters rehashed angel baby site is
- because babies online deleted my original one.The front page is missing.There are no photos.
I still want to wish you a Happy New Year and hope 2008 is all you want it to be !

Lori said...

Hi, B.

I am so sorry for your losses -- especially of your beloved Maya.

Thanks for commenting on my blog. I love the name you chose for your daughter, and I appreciate the thought you put into your response.

I, too, hope 2008 brings you much closer to your dreams.

I'm adding you to Google Reader so I can keep up with you!

Caro said...

So sorry.


loribeth said...

What a fabulous letter -- I'm bookmarking it! Part of me thinks you really should send it out -- it might be an eye-opener for a few people.

I am so sorry about your daughter.

Ellen K. said...


Kami said...

I have thought about writing a similar letter so many times. I am sorry for your pain and losses. It is such a hellish road to be on.

Pamela Jeanne said...

What a powerful letter. There are those who would have crumbled under much lesser circumstances. You are incredibly strong and have much to be proud of in the way that you soldiered on amid more heartache and pain than any one person should have to face. I can only think that your friends and family must appreciate all that you've had to bear. Wishing you continued strength and peace ...

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry about your daughter, and for all the heartache you've endured. I love the letter, it is so very real. ~luna

MrsSpock said...

What a wonderful letter. Getting Christmas letters that brag about successes always irritate me. There is no one whose life can be that good. Those that love us truly will want to know the bitter and the sweet- and support us through both.