We had my husband’s brother, his wife, and their 8-month-old baby staying with us for about a week at Christmastime. We were happy to have them; it was really nice to see family and spend time together. In all honesty, though, it was also difficult to navigate having someone else’s baby in our home for the holidays when we had been struggling so much throughout the past year.
I know that it was also difficult for my brother- and sister-in-law. They know what we have been going through, and I know that they would never want to hurt us or flaunt their situation. I also know that they have their own set of challenges, and it would not be fair for me to resent them or their baby.
For most of their stay, I think I did pretty well. It was surprisingly not difficult to set my feelings aside so that I could focus on just enjoying the holiday and being with family. Every once in a while, though, it was hard. I knew from the start that our week would revolve around the baby and his schedule, because babies are pretty demanding little people, but it still was hard to have our schedules dictated by a baby that did not belong to us. It was hard to have our home filled with all of the baby supplies that we desperately wish we needed for a child of our own. It was hard to have so many constant reminders of what we don’t have but want so badly.
The first morning they were here, I woke up to my alarm, as usual, to take my basal temperature. As I lay there listening to the beeps of the thermometer, I also heard the gurgles and babbles and cries of the baby in our extra bedroom, the room that was supposed to be for our own little one, the room that we use as an office because it’s less painful than having it sit empty, waiting for a baby that never comes. That first morning, I remember thinking how surreal it was to have the life I was actually living so starkly juxtaposed with the life I wished I were living.
My experiences with infertility have left me feeling pretty broken, and I know that they have etched sharp and jagged edges on my personality. It’s so easy to become bitter and jaded, and that’s been a real part of my experience recently. This is not the person I want to be, but in some ways, it is the person I am right now. I’m working to overcome this, working to let the softer and more humble parts of me rise to the surface more often. It’s hard though, and I know I need to be patient and compassionate with myself as well as with those around me. I am a work in progress, an imperfect person just doing my best to keep my head up in spite of the challenges life has thrown my way.
So, even though it was hard at times, I am grateful that our family members were willing to travel so far to come visit us. I am grateful for the happy memories we made together, and I hope they outweigh any negative ones. I am grateful that they were willing to share their little one with us, and I am glad that it provided us with a reminder of why we are continuing on this path, why we are still fighting to have a baby of our own instead of giving up and moving on. And, as cheesy as it may sound, I am grateful for family and friends who love me, jagged edges and all, because that is truly what makes this life worth living.