There are many people who have dreams of the "perfect Christmas" and plan for weeks on end to try to make this dream become a reality. Believe me, I used to be one of those people. Life, however, often throws us curve balls, and I've learned over time that going with the flow of things is often better than trying to stick to those plans. Family dysfunction, world events, or a simple change of plans can obliterate the so-called "perfect Christmas"...it's better to let go of any preconceived notions of how the holiday "should" be and just concentrate on what it is.
This change came about around 6 years ago. We had this wonderful Christmas planned. My brother and his family and my family and I were to meet up at my mother's home in upstate New York to celebrate the Christmas holiday together. My father had died the previous year and this was the first time we had all been together since his funeral. I was fourteen weeks pregnant with our third expected child. I should have known something wasn't quite right. Since the beginning of the pregnancy, I had felt like the "bottom" was dropping out (the bottom of what, I don't know). I felt heavy and dragging, and I chalked the sensation up to just being pregnant three times in four years. On Christmas morning, I awoke to the feeling of cramps down low. Thinking that it was just an aching, full bladder, I went to the bathroom to relieve myself. Imagine my shock when I saw spotting on my panties and blood when I wiped! The look of devastation must have registered clearly on my face, as my mother immediately knew what was wrong as soon as I came out of the bathroom. She instructed me to lie down and call my midwife in Ohio for isntructions. I was told that I was likely miscarrying and to head to the emergency room if I started bleeding very heavily. Several hours of rest later, I decided to shower and eat with the rest of the family.
At about 5:30, I felt a pop and ran to the bathroom. My water had broken and a few short moments later I felt our tiny baby slide out of me. Then all hell broke loose as I started bleeding very heavily. We drove 30 minutes to the nearest emergency room, the hospital where I had been born and where my father had died. Nobody seemed to see the irony in that but me. Hmmm. To make a long story short, I spent the rest of Christmas night admitted to the L&D unit of the hospital, hooked up to pitocin and receiving shots of methergine to control my hemorrhaging, listenting to the sounds of babies being born. The following morning I had a D&C. We flew back home about 2 days later as was scheduled.
That's what I mean about life throwing a curve ball. Actually, that was more like a wild pitch that wound up in the dirt. Anyway, as a result of that event, I no longer expect the holidays to go according to plan or to be "perfect." The holidays are what the are and I expect no more or no less. This year has been rather emotionally hard for me, partly because I'm pregnant and subject to overwhelming hormones, and partly because I'm allowing myself to actually FEEL things I've been shutting out for way too long. I look at it as being on the road to recovering from my losses and less-than-satisfying births, releasing the fears I have surrounding pregnancy and birth. I realize I'm NOT in control of anything, especially of when this child will be released from his or her nest in my womb. I spent my last pregnancy in such complete fear of losing the baby at any moment, up until he was safely in my arms. Why was I so afraid? I think it was because I didn't want to FEEL the emotions, the grief, the pain of another loss. It was debilitating in a way, since I wasn't really able to enjoy the pregnancy, I wasn't able to revel in the mystery of the gift of life, I wasn't able to be in awe of the Creator of us all. So, you see, I have a lot of work ahead of me.
Anyway, this year's holiday was lovely. The children were all extremely pleased with their gifts and had a wonderful time playing with their cousins at the Christmas meal. I had briefly entertained the notion of us all attending Mass together, but that didn't happen. Our oldest son had gotten all of us up way too early so that the littlest guys were way too crabby by the time Mass rolled around. Matt (my DH) and I decided to attend separately, with only our oldest daughter attending. It worked out well enough. Flexibility...go with the flow. I've decided that the family Christmas celebration is much more involved than Thanksgiving. We hosted Thanksgiving this year and it went very well. Matt's cousin hosted Christmas, and I could only imagine how frazzled I would've been if it had been me! Glad I made THAT decision early.
Most of the week I've entertained the idea of purchasing a pregnancy test, just to see if two lines still show up. I've been feeling really good, TOO good almost, that I sometimes suspect something has gone awry with this pregnancy. Sure, I read stories of women who have had these wonderful pregnancies, with first trimesters which just breezed by with no nausea or exhaustion. Could I possibly be one of THEM? Who knows. I've even thought of cheating a little and making an appointment with an OB just so I can get a peek with an ultrasound. Yeah, yeah...I keep spouting how unnecessary all that stuff is, that my body will eventually give me some evidence one way or the other of what's going on. But I admit there is a very tiny part of me that would jump at the chance for an ultrasound. Fortunately the other part is much, much bigger...the part that explains if I do that one thing, it could possibly rope me into more and more interventive things. Most people don't see the harm in that, but for me, for my healing to really take place, I need to trust, to allow myself to believe that all will work out as it should in the end. Whatever that is, whatever emotions arise from that, I will feel to the fullest, good or bad. After all, isn't that what it means to really LIVE?
"May your days be merry and bright..."