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A New Sort of Christmas

by Kellyn Roth |
December 20, 2023

Disclaimers & Introduction

I went back and forth on the content of this post so many times because it’s kind of a downer, but also, I’ve kind of decided that there’s no purpose whatsoever in not discussing the fact that Matthew and I are struggling with infertility (which by the way, serves as your content warning if you’re not comfortable reading about this subject).

There are a lot of reasons why I don’t want to be too private about it, but the primary one is it’s just not my style. I’m not a very private person; I’m pretty unbothered by people knowing what I’m going through because I’ve discovered that, whether I don’t say much or whether I say a lot, I’m generally treated about the same.

I’m not the kind of person who DOESN’T like people to know what I’m going through. If we ever have a baby, or adopt, or foster, I will probably write about it on this blog, so why not? At this point, me not sharing has become more hope avoidance than maintaining healthy privacy.

Now, at the start of this post, I am going to disclaim what I want to include throughout the post. Guilt drives me to say we have not dealt with this that long at all. We are still in the diagnostic stages, though we have a fairly clear idea of what’s going on, and unlike so many other couples, we have not dealt with this for twenty years or even ten. We were only married in August 2021. I know it’s been a short period of time. I know that my grief and anger is just another sign of my immaturity and my impatience.

And once again, that guilt, that feeling of “other people have it worse,” makes this post seem selfish and little of me. But I want to clarify that I’m not writing this to complain or to say, “I’ve got it so bad!” I don’t. I’m actually very blessed to be young, to have excellent health, to have every chance of becoming pregnant with minimal interference (even though we of course don’t know what that could look like or if it would work; nothing is guaranteed).

But this is our third Christmas without a baby, and at this point, there are some relevant changes in how I view holidays, family, and myself in the context of what we’ve been going through, as well as some big breakthroughs that I so desperately want to share with y’all. So even if it’s not typical, just let me share? Please? I want to!

Here we go!

Christmas is a children’s holiday, right?

Oh, I know it’s not. It’s a holiday for celebrating the birth of Jesus, a holiday for being thankful for His salvation, and a holiday for creating community around this central idea of “Christ risen; we His people.”

Basically, it’s the only time of the year where I feel like the Christian Church (community) does a half-decent job. Okay, that’s way too judgmental, I guess, but does anyone else feel this!?

Anyways, that’s beautiful, and I 100% agree that’s the true purpose of the holiday, but for me, it’s also tied so irrevocably with childhood. Nostalgia. That feeling you have when you’re such an included and wanted part of a family, where nothing could be wrong because you have loved ones around you.

I might not feel like this if I hadn’t had such a fantastic family and extended family, and further, I certainly wouldn’t have felt this way if my family were as it is now when I was young. But there is something so beautiful and innocent about a child’s approach to Christmas when raised in a Christian household.

You can say it’s all about the gifts, but I disagree. I’ve known too many children. And yes, it is a little about the gifts … but it’s also about the way adults (in the right kinds of family) refer to and celebrate Christmas. Advent, carols, and stories of long ago meld together into this beautiful example of passing on traditions and Christ’s love to each other.

I’m an overthinker, so of course I went through several identity crises throughout the Christmas holidays. They always served to remind me of the changes in my family. The marriages, the births, the deaths. And they always served to make me sit and think about myself … my growth, my lack of growth, my place in the family hierarchy, and how that was never (in my self-perfectionism) what I wanted.

Now, that makes it sound like I don’t like Christmas, doesn’t it? But no, I do love it. And for me, the epitome of family was how people acted around the holidays.

This is not a sentiment shared by many, and I understand that. I keep hearing about how families behave at their worst around the holidays because there’s so much stress (plus often this involves seeing extended family you wouldn’t otherwise see), but as a kid, I held the delusion (well, it was mostly accurate from my perspective, which is what mattered) that it was true of my family.

I know this is not logical or sensible. I know it’s not even true. That said, I wanted to set up my personal thought process on this because I thought it was rather interesting after I tore it apart.

So all this to say, as you can see, I have pretty clear ideas about Christmas and about its meaning to me. These are not logical or helpful; very little about the subconscious is. But I thought they would be helpful to set the stage.

Christmas with Matthew

After getting married, I had a very clear idea of what I wanted the holidays to look like in my head. A sort of “here’s what our family should look like.”

I think I brought up where we’d be every Christmas just two or three dates in; I wanted to establish early on that we’d spend Christmas Eve with my family and Christmas Day with his. We discussed what would be “just us” (our own family) and what would be with one family or the other.

And of course, because I always go way too far, I knew exactly what traditions I would prioritize. I knew what songs we would listen to. I knew the stories we would read, the way I would introduce Christianity to Christmas. I knew exactly what I would do to make Christmas “magical” for my children.

As a basically unhealthy person who has a tendency to spiraling thoughts, this made even the first Christmas with my husband (literally three months into my marriage) without a positive pregnancy test miserable. I mean, “I’m in a constant state of mental breakdown with a side of heart-wrenching sobs” miserable.

The second year was a little better, but in a numb, heartbroken way. A “God, why?” kind of way.

I don’t know if you’ve ever said, “God, why?” and how no other words to add because something just feels so devastating. I’ve had a few of those moments throughout my life. Losing my granddad, lost friendships, relationships that didn’t go the way I hoped. I don’t like these moments, but I think they are vital to our growth and development as humans.

No life is without trials. Mine are very much “first world problems,” and they’re not even the biggest “first world problems” one could have.

And this Christmas, I’m surprisingly okay. Oh, yeah, I have my moments of the “whys.” But I’m doing better.

The only contributing factor is God, for our external circumstances have not changed much from last Christmas.

Yeah, I’m sure part of it is that we’re finally moving forward with testing, and that feels like progress. But it’s also both giving myself permission to be upset and to feel like this is a big deal.* It’s also growth and acceptance of the place we’re at now. It’s also knowing that there are people who care about us and our rooting for our baby to come whenever God wills it to happen.

*Believe it or not, it was hard for me to feel that way until this year because I knew so many people had it worse. That said, I know that this will ALWAYS be true and does not negate my own suffering.

And here’s the thing. I am unwilling for Christmas with Matthew to always be unhappy because of my own unwillingness to let go of what God has given us a “not yet” (if not a “no”) to. I don’t want to lose that magic.

I don’t want to live the rest of my life without Christmas, Christmas as I have always known it. Hey, I don’t even want to live the rest of this particular Christmas without Christmas as I have always known it.

So I won’t.

In Conclusion …

I’m not going to say I’m in a place of complete acceptance. I’m more in a discovery spot – finding out what I’m like in a position I never thought I’d be in (due to family health history and perhaps my own naivety), finding out how I can follow God and give up my own wishes to focus on what He wants in my life.

But I do know I can’t and won’t be one of those women who makes their entire life about their infertility.

Moreover, I’m not going to let myself be sensitive about it. Yes, there’s a space for being gentle with yourself, with choosing to avoid people or situations that will cause pain. I’m very cognizant of the areas where I do need that … but this is not one of them.

If anything, God is asking me to lean in. To focus on my health. To spend more time with children and mothers. To serve. To accept and to heal. To not make a massive deal about it and write long blog posts making a big deal about it. Whoops.

So that’s my goal for this Christmas … and for the year to come.

TTFN!

~Kell~

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