I always looked forward to my first Christmas as a mom. I’m the last to have children of all my brothers and sisters, and I hoped that one day I would have the chance to bring my children to all of the holiday events. I always loved seeing all my nieces and nephews get excited to open their presents and then run off and play together. I couldn’t wait to see my children play with their cousins. When Todd and I were trying to get pregnant and not having a lot of luck, the holidays became hard. What I used to enjoy now made me sad. Would I ever get the chance to have a child of my own or would I be the aunt who never had children? Being 9 months pregnant last Christmas made everything extra special. I always loved Christmas and being so close to giving birth to Nash made the holidays even more exciting. I knew at this time next year I would have a one-year-old child. I remember watching my little niece Brooke playing with all the wrapping paper and thinking, “Next year this will be my baby!” I was happy…overwhelmingly happy! I couldn’t wait to tote Nash around and dress him up in holiday clothes.
When Nash finally came, Christmas decor was still up at the hospital. He was due January 4th, and there was a lot of hope that he would be the new year baby. But he was comfortable and had no intentions on coming without a little push. My mom always has her Christmas celebration in January so we all can make it. Last year we didn’t have Christmas until after Nash was born. I was so excited to bring him and share him with everyone. I’m so glad we had it when we did. That I had at least one Christmas with him. I always thought about Nash and how he might feel having a birthday so close to the holidays. I would tell myself that I had to make sure to make a big deal out of his birthday so it wouldn’t be overshadowed. Now, his birthday being so close to the holidays is bad for other reasons. It’s hard on us. Seeing posts On Facebook of children that are close to Nash’s age opening their gifts and setting out cookies for Santa makes my heart ache with all that could and should have been. What I think makes it personally hard for us is that he was our only child. If I had another child, I would want to make it special for him or her. I would tough it out so that he or she wouldn’t have a bad Christmas. To Todd and I, it’s like starting over. This was suppose to be our first Christmas as parents, and now it’s like every other Christmas…just us. We walk into our families’ homes alone on the holidays like we have every other year. Nothing has changed except for the fact that we did have a son and he should be here but he died. It’s the time of the year where I get mad and scream, “It’s not fair!!!!!” Seeing all my nieces and nephews and cousins’ children and thinking how unlucky Todd and I are. How so many people raise their children to be adults. We had one and he died.
I woke up on Christmas morning surprisingly okay. I had myself so worked up about it on the days leading up to it. I thought seeing kids open gifts and hearing everyone saying Merry Christmas would be terrible. What’s merry about it? My family kept trying to pin down a date for each ones family christmas party and I would politely say, “I’m not sure we are going to make it, no promises. We will see how we feel when that day arrives.” They didn’t mean to make us feel guilty, but they would say, “We will miss you if you don’t come.” Or, “I hope you can make it.” Or, they would explain all the reasons why it’s not healthy to stay home. If you are going to be sad why not be around people that love you when you are? I don’t think that sounds good at all. I like to cry alone. Everyone that talks to me says how well I’m doing. That’s because it doesn’t help me to break down in front of others. I save that for when I’m by myself. When I’m crying, I don’t like to attract attention and back rubbing and things. I just want to cry and be ignored. I might look like I’ve got it together but I’m hanging on by a thread. It’s all a front. I did tell Todd Christmas morning that I wasn’t going to subject myself to it. I felt like I was forcing myself to go for all the wrong reasons. I was going to make everyone else happy. I said, ” this is the time of the year when nothing should be expected of us! Next year when the new baby is here, it will be easier.” Todd, however, wanted to go to everything. He said, “We can stay home if you want, but I think we should go.” He is worried about the nieces and nephews not remembering us being around. He was worried because we were so involved with them that cutting ourselves out of their lives around the holidays would be too hard. Even if temporary, he was concerned about how it would affect them. He told me one day, “I don’t want them to look back and say Uncle Todd and Aunt Shelly quit seeing us after Nash died, they were never the same.” Todd compromises a lot for me. I needed to do the same. I told myself stay for an hour and then leave. I was so surprised at how I did feel at all the parties. Sure I had my moments of sadness, but it was nice to be around family. It was a distraction. Again, I find myself excited for next year. Excited to bring our baby to Christmas. Excited and worried. Happy that we get another chance to be parents and scared that there are no guarantees.