The Year I Cried on Thanksgiving

“Mommy, Thanksgiving is the day that we get to spend ALL day with all of our family, right?” asked my sweet Oliver James just a few days ago. Our family, like most families, is very busy right now. I’m a photographer and the fall is my craziest season and on top of that, we are moving out of our house tomorrow AND building a house if we can find a lot, etc. So things are a little chaotic these days. But I wouldn’t trade this Thanksgiving for any other because right in front of me is my little man and his sister too who just can’t wait to spend the day with their entire family.

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Four years ago my twins were just over a month old. I was exhausted to say the least and I’m sure my hormones were all over the place. But nothing will ever make me forget the simplicity of the morning. I remember sitting on the couch with the Macy’s Day Parade on next to my mother-in-law as we waited for my parents to arrive.

And I just stared into the eyes of these precious little lives for just a second and I burst into tears. When she asked me what was wrong all I could do was think about how much I had wanted a baby the year before.

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The year before is hard for me to talk about. The first time I found out I was pregnant I was so overjoyed that I could barely hold it in for a second. We told people. I didn’t blast it all over Facebook or scream it from the rooftops, but I had no reason not to. We hugged and cried as we told our family and closest friends. But then at a little over 10 weeks I had a miscarriage. And it hurt a lot. I grieved and cried, but it’s so not my personality to be down for long. I’m more of a pick myself up by the bootstraps and move forward kind of gal, so the second we could try again I wanted to. I got pregnant again almost immediately. But this time it was an ectopic pregnancy (in my fallopian tubes). I was devastated. I begged my doctor to let me see a fertility specialist so I wouldn’t have to go through this a third time and thankfully she agreed. But of course it can take months to get an appointment, so it put me right smack dab in the middle of Thanksgiving.

No baby, no pregnancy to be excited about. Just silence.

So, I remember the year that all the excitement seemed to swirl around me in a blur and I felt numb. The turkey, the pies, the family that I love, all fell around me like the beautiful fall leaves that I so enjoy when I gaze out my window. There was thankfulness in my heart. But there was also this tiny piece of me that just wasn’t whole anymore. Up until this point in my life I had never known real loss like I did this year.

I share all of this to say that if the desire in your heart is to be a mom and you go into the holidays a little sad because you’re not, for whatever reason, you are not alone. Infertility never has good timing but I found it especially hard in these melancholy months. I have been there and if I could, I would give every mom out there crying those same tears that I cried all those years ago, the biggest hug I could muster up.

But my hope is that one day you too will look back at that year as a distant, painful memory that somehow makes you all the more thankful that you survived it. Because since then we have had Thanksgivings on absolutely zero sleep and Thanksgivings where we raked leaves in our pjs and winter hats and Thanksgiving where we just all sat outside and laughed in our short sleeves. Once there was even snow on the ground! We’ve had days of holding little tiny babies and we’ve had days of running endlessly. One of my favorite Thanksgiving memories is the day Olivia said (about my grandmother) “I can’t wait to see grandma, I just love her.” Or there is the time that I got the one and only photo I have of my kids with my grandpa on Thanksgiving before he passed away. For these children, for this life, for these memories I have prayed.

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The year I cried on Thanksgiving wasn’t a day of sorrow. It wasn’t some great realization of how far I had come or a final acceptance of all the things I had been through to get to this place. Maybe I’ll never be able to process that fully. But the year I cried on Thanksgiving – they were the most thankful tears I’ve ever cried.

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2 Responses to The Year I Cried on Thanksgiving

  1. Brenda Bray November 15, 2016 at 10:19 am #

    Sweet words from an amazing young woman! I will always remember your inviting smile and love for the children at the Berry Perschool program. I am so proud of your accomplishments.
    Brenda Dunaway Melton Bray

  2. Sharyn Nevels November 16, 2016 at 8:28 pm #

    All of this. Last year was a particularly dark holiday season as my husband and I had just endured our third miscarriage in a row. This year, we are so grateful to have been blessed with a little boy in August. My heart and my arms have never been more full, and I cry happy tears AT LEAST once daily when I’m holding my sweet nursling.

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