Twas the month before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. The stockings are stored in the basement with care, in hopes that small children will need them next year. No children to nestle all snug in their beds. While visions of loneliness filled them with dread...
Our first Christmas as husband and wife, we'd been married only 4 months and we didn't plan on starting our family for another 8 months. I was focused on making our house a home and I was so excited to decorate for the holidays. I remember with great clarity shopping in P.ottery B.arn by myself. I found the perfect stockings. I picked up two- one for me and one for the husband. Almost immediately, it occurred to me that they may not have these exact stockings next year and if I wanted our kids to have matching stockings, I'd better get them now. I was mindful of the fact that the husband may not appreciate me spending hundreds of dollars on stockings for our hypothetical family so I thought, "I'll just grab four extra."
This will be our 4th Christmas since that day. I also remember thinking, "I hope I'm not jinxing anything by buying these." Of course I don't believe I "jinxed" anything. I've heard from many women that the fear of not being able to have children is something we all think about at one time or another, so maybe this thought was normal or maybe it was my intuition.
This year I decided I wanted our Christmas tree to have a whole new look. Instead of doing all neutral ornaments with pops of red, which coordinated with our red stockings, I am using brightly colored vintage ornaments. This change in ornaments provided the perfect excuse (in my mind) to buy new stockings since there will no longer be much red in our tree. I hung the new stockings today and the husband (predictably) exclaimed, "why did you buy new stockings? What was wrong with our old stockings?"
I didn't have the heart to tell him that I just can't bare to hang the red stockings, that they- without fail- remind me of the four perfectly packaged, unopened stockings meant for the children we may never have.
I regret that this is such a depressing post. I don't want to depress anyone. I cried today and tried to explain to my husband that for some reason the weight of our childlessness is weighing much heavier on me these past few days. I told him I'm finding myself having overwhelming feelings of sadness when I see pregnant women (something very new for me), and feeling particularly sensitive to other's facebook posts about pregnancy. He responded by telling me to "look on the bright side." I know he was doing his best to be supportive but his response was anything but helpful. I explained to him that this isn't about a lack of optimism. This isn't about jealousy. I don't look at other people and wish I had their lives. This is about grief. When I see pregnant women or newborns, it's just like being reminded of a loved one that's passed away. I feel an oppressive sense of sorrow, like I want to reach out and hold my loved one- my sweet child- but they're not there. For now, I learn to live with the emptiness- empty stockings, an empty womb but not an empty heart- an aching heart to be sure- but Jesus is residing in my heart amidst this sorrow. He knows I don't need to be cheered up. I need to grieve and so He is letting me feel this brokeness, but He is there. In the brokeness, He is there.