If my first pregnancy had been successful, we’d have an eleven month-old baby now. If the second had worked out, we’d have an eight month-old. If the third had gone to term, we’d have a newborn baby. But instead, me and my husband are having another Christmas as a family of two.
Don’t get me wrong, I love our little family and I’m grateful every day that I met someone who makes me feel so happy and so loved. But we want to be a family of three (or more) so badly that it’s difficult coming to terms with still being ‘just’ two.
Last year at Christmas we were deeply unhappy, going through the motions of the festivities, but feeling none of the joy. We felt little gratitude for the things that were going well, because we were surrounded by a thick shroud of grief that nothing could penetrate.
This year, despite having our third miscarriage, we feel so much better and more capable of being present in the festive season. In an effort to understand why, I’ve been pondering what we’ve done differently and there are a few things that I think are working for us.
This year, we have decided to have Christmas Day just the two of us. No pressure to work to a timetable, or entertain guests, or serve a traditional Christmas dinner. No, this year, we’re doing what we want.
We’ll get up whenever we wake, open presents when we feel like it. We’re having chateaubriand for lunch and our very favourite red wine. In the afternoon, we’re each picking a film that we really want to watch, there’ll be no trying to find a film that suits everyone this year. We can stay up late, drink too much wine and talk nonsense, or we can be in bed fast asleep by 10 o’clock. There are no rules.
And, do you know what, I’m really excited! A fully enjoyable, selfish, and tailored Christmas, just right for me and my very favourite person.
We took a start-of-Christmas trip the last weekend of November, a new tradition that we think will stick. We went to my husband’s home county of Yorkshire and stayed in a beautiful little stone cottage near the Dales. With a log fire, nothing but hills around us and a night sky filled with twinkling stars, it was bliss. We couldn’t feel anything but relaxed and ready for the festive season by the time we left.
We’ve had some lovely times with friends this December. Last year, for me at least, it all felt like too much effort. I didn’t have the energy to pretend I was happy. I couldn’t face other people’s babies or children enjoying Christmas, especially at a time when I should have been heavily pregnant myself.
But this year – apart from my usual anxiety – I’ve loved hosting and visiting friends and have felt a deep sense of gratitude for the people I choose to have in my life, and those who choose to have me in theirs.
Another new activity we’ve both incorporated into our lives this year has been therapy. I’ve been seeing a psychotherapist since October, my husband has been going to an art therapy group since the summer. Last month, I went to a baby loss retreat and he did a transcendental meditation course.
This has resulted in us talking a lot more – about how we feel and how our moods can impact on each other. We’ve discussed what we think is working well for us both and what we might need to do differently. We’re very much in a self-reflective place this year, both as individuals and as a couple, and I think it’s adding nothing but positivity to our lives and our relationship.
After realising that our old apartment was now inextricably linked to our three miscarriages – which all happened while we were living there – we decided to move. This was relatively pain-free, as we only rent, but it was still quite a drastic change. Yet, in the six months since we’ve moved, it has worked wonders for us both.
We’re now in an area we love, closer to friends and – something that has been vitally important to me this summer – we have a garden. I didn’t realise how much it would benefit my mental health to have some outside space. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed doing a bit of gardening – mowing the lawn, pruning plants, growing herbs. Plus there’s the barbecuing and sitting outside chatting until late. Lots of simple things really, but they’ve made a massive difference to my quality of life.
So, as we come towards the end of 2019, we are both looking forward to 2020 as a year which will, hopefully, be joyful. There are lots more changes to come and, instead of being fearful, I am feeling positive and hopeful. We expect to begin a round of IVF. We are mid-way through buying our first house together. We’ll continue with our therapies. And I finally intend to start my gratitude journal – something I’ve been talking about for a long time.
I hope that, by putting more positivity out into the world, it will find its way back to us. And whether or not 2020 brings us our ultimate goal of a take home baby, I am proud that we are taking the steps to make ourselves happy in the meantime.