Christmas 2014

Up until this past month if you asked me what the hardest part of our infertility journey has been, I would have said it was the period of time between about six months to a year of trying to conceive. It was so difficult because I had a foreboding sense that something was wrong, yet we had not yet reached that "one year mark" of trying and therefore our fruitless trying could not medically be considered "infertility." We had not told anyone because there was not really anything yet to tell. We were worried, alone, and heartbroken.

Four years later, I have to change my answer. It was the first three weeks of December 2014. The grief of our loss and the fear of never conceiving were heavy on my heart.

The other night Arie woke up while it was still dark. The clock in my and John's room is on John's side of the bed and since I wear contacts, I can't read it when I get up at night. Taking the pitch darkness as my clue, I took Arie for a quick potty trip and then tucked him back under the covers whispering, "It's still nighttime. Go back to sleep."

Back in my room, I reached for the phone on my dresser to check the hour. Almost 7am! Arie wasn't waking up in the middle of the night; it was morning. The day was just about to break.

This experience, but opposite, describes how I felt about our failed frozen embryo transfer. Going into the transfer, I felt like it was almost morning after a very long night. I thought the day was about to break. When I heard the nurse deliver those words "not pregnant" it was like being thrust back somewhere into the night, to some unknown hour in the dark.

Perhaps the hardest part of being lost in the dark has been that I don't know what time it is. I can't see the clock. I have no idea when morning is coming. It often feels like it's just not coming at all.

I know how dramatic that sounds. I don't mean to be negative and honestly I considered not sharing this at all, but I've always promised you I would share this journey honestly because I believe it is important. I know I am not alone. I want to hold out my hand to those of you who are in this night with me and say, "Me too."

But let me share something good, too. In grief there are bad moments on good days and good moments on bad days: for Christmas I had a whole beautiful strong of the good moments and good days. Going into the holidays I had no idea how I would feel, but I am so thrilled to report that they were wonderful! My family (parents, both siblings and their spouses) came to stay with us for four days and we had an incredible time.

I still feel like I am in the darkness, but it was like they came into my home and turned on all the lights, just for a while. It was exactly what my heart needed.

My parents arrived on the 23rd and siblings later on the 24th. This allowed me and John to continue our tradition of opening gifts with Arie on the morning of Christmas Eve. We came down in our pajamas, I baked some breakfast biscuits, and we poured our mugs full of coffee before unwrapping our gifts.

 I don't have another child to compare him to, but I think Arie is the most fun gift-opener I've ever met! He greeted his gifts with big eyes, clenched fists, and squeals of delight!

My favorite quote of the morning was when he opened a wooden Russian church block set and confidently declared: You can throw away that picture box Mom. I already know how to make a Russia. 
Nailed it. 
That evening my siblings arrived along with John's mom and sister. We enjoyed our third annual Russian food Christmas Eve dinner. I made piroshki (stuffed buns), vareniki (perogies), and braised cabbage and beef. Not to pat myself on the back or anything but... let's just say it turned out better than Arie's Russian block project.

Christmas morning had John up and at church bright and early, preparing for the service while the rest of us juggled showers and mirrors for getting ready. I made a Christmas breakfast which would.not.set until 15 minutes before departure time! Luckily I come from a family of fast eaters! We scarfed it down and packed ourselves into the minivan, arriving at church just in time! We filed into our front row pew just seconds before the opening carol. High fives all around.

After church we set out a smorgasbord of snacks, filling our plates before exchanging gifts by the tree. Nine people x 9 gifts each = something like 392 gifts (I'm bad at math)... it took all afternoon but was great fun! Arie almost died of waiting forever between his turns, but still relished each gift and wanted to play with them right away.

Everyone was spoiled with gifts but more importantly we had a truly wonderful time together. We shared cups of tea, filled up on way too many Christmas cookies, went out to eat, played games together, and laughed until we could hardly breathe. When my family left after four days I was exhausted but deeply happy. I thanked God for the gift of those four days filled with love and light in the midst of the darkness. I also prayed with fervor that someday I will be the matriarch of such a family; welcoming my children with their spouses into my home to cook and converse together in the kitchen, to sit on couches with hot mugs of coffee, and to share that special connection we call family.

Looking forward to the dawn and praying it comes in 2015.



  1. I absolutely love the photo!

  2. MirellaC.12/29/2014

    You are a wonderful woman - and deeply loved by our God! Your faith is amazing, thank you for sharing, hoping and not letting go <3

    1. Your encouragement is a huge help in holding on to that faith! Thank you!

  3. You're so beautiful, Jill. Inside and out.

    Christmas is such a hard time to be dealing with infertility. I always felt guilty about that, because we're talking about the baby Jesus here, but all the talk at Christmastime is about a BABY and oh it would just break my heart.

    Carrying your hurts and worries and unknowns with you, Jill. Praying for your dawn in 2015 always.

    1. Yep you said it. It is a hard time, filled with longing. Thank you for carrying them with me Courtney! It means so much.

  4. I love your raw honesty in this post. That is one thing I love about all your posts really, you aren't afraid of sharing your heart with us. Thank you. Infertility around the holidays is hard, but I am glad to see that you had a small window of light in your dark December. It's amazing what a few days of joy can do for the heart. Thinking of you as you head in to 2015 and praying that it is a good year for you guys.

    1. Your make it easier to share with your wonderful comments Jenn! Thank you!

  5. Anonymous12/29/2014

    You are a fantastic writer!

  6. Thanks for sharing your heart so honestly. I also feel very much in the darkness - but didn't know how to explain it before I read your post. We've been trying for over 2.5 years for a second, and The last 9 months have definitely been the hardest - never have I experienced such depression.
    I don't have wisdom for you, just encouragement that you're not alone.

    1. Reaching out to give your hand a squeeze <3

  7. Thanks so much for so courageously and vulnerably sharing your journey. You encourage and inspire me. You are definitely not alone. After five years of infertility, my husband and I are preparing for our first embryo transfer (with donated embryos) in January. We don't know what we'll face but we know that God is good all the time. Press on.

    1. I hope so deeply that your transfer in January will bless you with a child. Press on indeed!


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