By Heather Cavalieri

Holidays are meant to be a time for cheer. Time to be spent with your family and loved ones. To have large gatherings where you celebrate everything you are grateful for, and all that you have accomplished in the previous year. It’s a time to set goals for your future, and to show appreciation for all that you were blessed to be given. I myself am no exception to this.  I am so very grateful for every single person, thing, and opportunity that I am fortunate enough to have in my life. Yet, I continuously feel emptiness in my heart.

Throughout our journey of trying to conceive, my emotions have been somewhat of a roller coaster. At some points I am okay in the sense that I can go through my day without feeling heartache. I have a feeling of hopefulness that although now is not my time to be a mother, my time will eventually come. It doesn’t cause discomfort when I find out a friend is pregnant, or when I’ve been invited to a first birthday. And I can even pass by the baby section at Target without feeling a twinge of pain. I guess it’s kind of numbness, or maybe acceptance? Either way, I can deal with it.

But other times, man, does my heart hurt. And the holidays unfortunately feel a little bit like salt in the empty-womb wound. Every commercial you watch, store that you shop in, or holiday event you attend, is just over flowing with happy, growing families. As I walk through the stores with parents choosing the perfect gifts to hide under the trees I just can’t help to feel sorry for myself. Why? Why is this happening to us? Why do I not deserve to feel the heart melting joy that so many undeserving parents feel on Christmas morning? When their children run to their rooms to wake them up because they can’t wait one more second to go down stairs. Or when their toddlers gleefully rip open their favorite toys that they have earned by being so well-behaved all year. That feeling of holding a sled in one hand and their tiny mitten-ed hand in the other as you walk to the top of a snowy hill. That is a feeling that I may never have the chance to experience.

On these days, I have a hard time being optimistic. Because, although I would love to fully believe that it WILL happen one day, there is also that chance that it won’t. If not because my body just can’t possibly do it, than because financially we couldn’t go any further with treatment. For those of you that (thank god) have not gone through this, there is only one way to try to describe the feeling of being infertile. You know when something potentially really terrible has happened? Like a loved one got into an accident and you’re not yet sure what they’re status is. Or you are waiting to hear back on really important life changing results. And you get this horrible feeling in your gut, your heart is pounding, and it feels like you may be sick? It’s pretty similar to that. It’s like grieving through a death. The death of a dream that you have envisioned your whole life. And you’re not only causing the death of your own dream, but that of the person you love even more than yourself. Your other half. Your better half.

I am not writing this blog today to earn your sympathy. Nor do I want anyone to feel sad for me. I am not looking for pity. I simply ask that this holiday season you take a little more time to be grateful for what you have. Hug your kids a little longer. Put down your phones and play a board game with your family. Be more kind to people in crossing. You never know what heartache that person is wrestling on the inside. And you never know who is wishing they were lucky enough to have what you have.

So this weekend, I will push my pain aside. I will stop being a Christmas grouch and will pull out my tree and decorations. And I will do all of this with my wonderful, supportive fiancé and my three fur babies. I am so grateful to have them, and I will not allow myself to forget it.

Heather Cavalieri is currently a student at the University of Southern Maine, working towards a degree in Communications and Media. She uses her passion of writing to spread awareness of the struggle of infertility by sharing her own experiences. In Heather’s spare time she enjoys being with her family and fur babies, crafting, and spending a sunny day on a kayak.