We are still at BDH’s parents’ home in Nova Scotia, enjoying some time with family, although as usual, many in our merry band are coming down with the annual holiday cold. But despite being tired and feeling sick, it has been a Christmas holiday to remember.
And it all has to do with That Baby over there.
She’s been the highlight of many of our Christmas get-togethers, being passed around like a sack of potatoes — albeit a very popular and much-loved sack of potatoes — to any and all family members. She’s been loved up and carted around and fussed over, and has been a real trooper the entire time. With the exception of trouble sleeping in a new bed in a new house, she’s been happy and content and having a nice time. And, remarkably, she seems to be evading the cold that’s going around as well… at least, for the time being.
I think her first Christmas has been a good one. She loves her Grammy and Granddad like nobody’s business. She has been spoiled and loved up by aunties, uncles and cousins. Santa’s sleigh seems to have tipped over under Grammy’s Christmas tree, and most of it is for her. And she has discovered a deep and abiding love for wrapping, particularly tissue paper.
It has been a good Christmas for me as well, although I admit that it was hard to feel Christmas-y this year. We have little free cash and so the gifts under the tree were limited. We are tired and we need a lot of rest, which won’t be coming until well into Stinkerbelle’s teen years, I think. The weather has been all over the map as well, which makes for much worry over travelling and adds some stress to the holiday time.
But, if I am honest, all that stuff is nothing when balanced against the magic of having a child at Christmas.
She’s still too young to understand or care about Christmas — in fact, she spent much of Christmas eve and the wee hours of Christmas morning crying and not wanting to sleep. The tree and the gifts were lost on her. But to see her sitting in front of the tree, surrounded in presents, giggling and waving a bit of wrapping paper about, was one of the highlights of my Christmas.
It is hard to explain how things change, or how your thoughts about Christmas change. It is not often in ways you expect.
For me, it happened at Christmas dinner.
Our daughter was pretty wound up by the time we were to sit down for Christmas dinner, so while everyone was sitting down to eat, I took a bottle and That Baby and headed into the living room to feed her. I pulled the doors shut to make it quiet, and we sat down in the rocking chair in front of the Christmas tree, and I gave the baby her bottle.
In the other room, everyone was enjoying dinner, laughing and chatting. The sounds of Christmas dinner filtered in to our quiet room. I sat and looked at this beautiful tree, and down at the beautiful baby in my arms, and I began to cry.
I don’t think I have every been quite so happy as in those few moments.
You see, when you are trying to have a child and cannot, or are fighting the battle with infertility and failing, there are moments that most parents take for granted that you see and can only dream about. I remembered special occasions — even Christmas dinners like the one going on in the other room — where I sat and listened to parents complain that they could not sit down and just enjoy a hot meal, or enjoy a quiet Christmas dinner with family or friends, or whatever, because they had to fuss after a child. And I remembered the pain I felt that I might never be in that position. I remember the yearning I had to be able to understand what it was like. I remembered how much I would have given to have the problems these parents complained about. I remembered the moments these parents took for granted that we might never have.
But not this Christmas. Christmas dinner was happening, and I was off in another room. I wasn’t getting my dinner. I wasn’t part of the conversations and the festivities. And I was, quite possibly, happier than I had ever been in my life.
I finally had someone to take care of. I finally had someone who needed me. I was finally part of the club, no longer on the outside looking in.
I was someone’s mom at Christmas.
BDH came in to check on us, and saw me crying. He was worried at first, but I explained what I was feeling. He sat down on the footstool in front of the rocking chair. He grinned, and simply said, “Yeah.”
We were parents. We are parents.
Best Christmas ever.