Waiting for Grace: Christmas Time

I’ve been writing this post since the week of Christmas. I’ve written and rewritten and written some more. I’ve dealt with a whirlwind of emotions this holiday season and I have had a hard time putting them into, what I feel, is my most articulate post that doesn’t sound like defcon has approached…because I’ve felt like it on numerous occasions this season.

Two weeks before Christmas I was sitting at my desk at work and I looked down to see my phone light up about 2pm. It was the doctor’s office. My heart started pounding and I began to feel a little light headed. I grabbed the phone and answered it as I got up and started walking to the back room.

A month earlier we had decided to do an insemination – our second – to give that route one more try before we took the more drastic road toward invitro. The Doc had said that with the factors I am facing, ivf was our best shot. Of course, it would be with anyone, but with the issues I’ve had it was starting to look like that was our only option. Right before the insemination I had started out feeling elated after I went in for my ultrasound and found that I had two plump follicles ready for take off. I had never had two that were that mature at the same time. We completed our second insemination and endured the agonizing two week wait.

Before I answered the phone call, that morning at 7:30 I went in for a blood pregnancy test. Throughout the long two weeks of waiting, I began imagining announcing on Christmas morning that we were pregnant. If we were to get pregnant during this round, it would be right in time for Christmas to share with close friends and immediate family. I started imagining what gifts our families could open on Christmas to surprise them with the news. I wondered how we could video the reveal without looking too conspicuous. I had composed in my head the text we would send to our closest friends on Christmas morning; “Merry Christmas! We are having a very special Christmas this year. We are expecting our Christmas miracle in August!” followed by either an ultrasound or the announcement picture I’ve been planning for a year and a half. There was nothing I wanted more, no items or presents I wanted more, than to tell our families that we had a Christmas miracle on the way. There was a lot of pressure riding on this phone call with results of our pregnancy test.

I answered the phone. “Hello?”

“Hi, Mrs. Bunker?” From those three words I could hear in her voice that she was not calling with good news.

“I’m sorry to have to tell you that your test was negative this morning.” She seemed genuinely sorry.

“That’s okay.” Jokingly, “I just don’t know what to get everyone for Christmas now.”

“Oh my! I’m REALLY sorry!” Note to self: Don’t joke like that with certain people. I tend to have a morbid sense of humor about things in order to mask pain. Some people don’t get it.

“NO, I’m just joking. It’ll be fine. I was just making a joke.”

After talking about the next steps in our process and some sweet consoling from the nurse, the phone call ended.

I had told myself I wasn’t going to cry because I shouldn’t be surprised. Why should I have expected to be pregnant? Getting bad news was normal and I should be accustomed to it by now. But I wanted so badly to be wrong; I wanted to be floored and hear, “Congratulations! You’re pregnant.” I cried anyway.

This news meant that we had to bear through another Christmas of heartbreak; During the holiday season it’s so hard thinking of all of the people we know who are looking forward to having a little one, or people who were able to share the news on Christmas Day that they are expecting. We may be happy for them, but it’s painful when you want what they have more than anything in the world.

Christmas is a hard season when you’re dealing with infertility. It’s so much different when there are kids in your life to share it with. There’s a sense of magic when you experience Christmas with a child and it’s devastating when you want that so bad but you just can’t have it; it reminds me of Linda Eder’s song, Christmas Through a Child’s Eyes.

Every year I’d wait for the season

Only Christmas time can bring

I thought I understood the reason

For all the parties and caroling

Every year I’d search for the meaning

Every time I’d dress the tree

Each new ornament and garland

Each decoration was all I’d see

And all that Christmas meant to me

Then someone told me Christmas is for children

And I left that behind too long ago

But now I see Christmas through a child’s eyes

My new son’s eyes 

Now every time we ring in the season

And play a Christmas melody

I know that the moment he hears it

He’ll bring Christmas back to me

That’s beautiful but sad at the same time. What about me? What about Aaron? What about the millions of people out there who, for them, Christmas through a child’s eyes isn’t possible? Christmas becomes a painful season, second after Mothers Day and Fathers Day. Those are a bullseye kick in the nads.

We had our choir program at church earlier in December and we sang a song I had never heard before, A Baby Changes Everything. Every time we sang it, I had to mouth the words because I was too choked up for anything to get past my vocal chords.

At first, I couldn’t sing this song because I was sad that I couldn’t relate. I would cry every time because I want so bad to have my life changed by a little baby. While the pain of not having a little one to celebrate Christmas with is numbing, I started thinking about that other baby that Christmas just happens to be about. Sure, our future little Bunkers are going to change our lives but there was another baby that changed more than just one life or two; He changed the world. Focusing my grief into thankfulness for this Little One, helped me focus on the real meaning of the season and not the pain of infertility. On Christmas Day, instead of focusing on the baby we don’t have yet I tried to meditate on the Baby we do. I’m most certainly not a person with stellar strength, but this…this helped ease the pain a little.

We’re just hoping we don’t have to go through another Christmas with empty arms.

One of my favorite gifts this Christmas was this charm that Aaron bought me from James Avery that says, “Expect a Miracle.” I cried when I opened it. I’ve talked about getting a tiny tattoo on my foot with some sort of positive, scriptural reinforcement like Matthew 6:26 or Jeremiah 29:11. I’m the only person I know who would say, “Go for it.” So instead of a tattoo I’ll wear this necklace as a reminder to expect a miracle every single day. (and maybe get the tattoo some day) *wink*

  • Barbie S - Beautiful as always Hannah. I hope you know how my heart breaks each time with you and Aaron and how much I'm wishing, hoping, and praying as if this were my own baby-to-be. Your time is coming and I wish I could tell you when it is. But for now, and always, big hugs, some wet kisses, and a latte.

    I have a tattoo planned as well. We should do it! I'm game… ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - I love the necklace and the sentiment. Keep expecting. ReplyCancel

  • Kyla - I'm expecting a miracle for you, too!

    I relate to some of these feelings, but in a totally different way. I always, always get my hopes up when we may be on the verge of a diagnosis for Katie. Always. I try not to, I know the odds are ridiculously against us ever getting a diagnosis for her after 6 years of trying and over a dozen specialists, but my hopes rise up anyway. In a way, it makes me more crushing when it doesn't come to fruition…but on the other hand, I don't ever want to lose hope. So we keep expecting. ReplyCancel

  • Maddy - I can only imagine how difficult the holidays were for you this time around. You'll be parents soon – just wait and see! Love the necklace too 🙂 What a special and thoughtful gift! ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - I'm right there with you. Our 2 week wait ended the day before New Years Eve and as soon as the nurse said "hello" I knew it was bad news. I'm just so ready to be done with this. It's exhausting!! But I know that Baby in the manger is the only baby that will ever complete me so I'm focusing on Him. I'm praying for you in this journey and encouraged by your story. ReplyCancel

  • lesli westfall - Beautifully expressed Hannah. I empathize with you and am believing for you. The barren land is hard, dry, rocky, and full of boulders we have to climb and conquer…just remember you are traversing, keep looking straight ahead. Presently it seems like a mirage is before you, but in the distance is the Promised Land.

    Much love my sister…

    Lesli ReplyCancel

  • Christine - Beautifully written, and I can so relate to that longing feeling of finally being able to announce on Christmas morning that we're expecting, but for us, it's been two Christmases now that we have not yet been able to do so. So much of this journey is one day at a time, where some are full of hope and positive thoughts and others it's just not possible to avoid feeling that disappointment. Keep your chin up and keep focusing on our God who specializes in making the impossible possible. ReplyCancel

  • Shanna - This popped up in the “You may also like” after I had read all about your wonderful Gocha Day. I couldn’t help but see the beauty of God’s completeness. Here, just before Christmas you experienced such heartbreak. Two potential babies that didn’t come to be. God saw your heart, remembered that pain, and said “Just wait, Hannah. The Christmas you’ve been longing for is coming sooner than you know!” Y’all’s story is just so beautiful. I look forward to see what all else God has in store for the Bunkers! ReplyCancel

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