by Liz Escoffery
Dear friends wanting to start or grow their family this Christmas,
I see you gazing at the empty manger at church. I see the mixed emotions in your gaze and so I stop to say a prayer for you.
I curated this resource list over the past few weeks with you in mind. Perhaps one of several of these resources will help you know you are not alone in your sadness and acknowledge the real suffering, a suffering that is real and relentless.
Allow yourself to feel anything you need to feel right now: disappointment, sadness, frustration, anger, jealousy, helplessness, vulnerability, or even peace and joy. There is no wrong way to feel. Honor where you are at.
The Christmas season can be especially difficult when you carry this unfulfilled desire on your heart. It can also be difficult for those who have lost a loved one (of any age!) recently—or a long time ago.
The due date of the baby we miscarried was December 23. I imagined what it would be like to have to cancel Christmas plans to head to the hospital to deliver my baby. Perfecta Marie, our first, made me a mother and my husband a father. I carry a piece of her in my heart, knowing that if my pregnancy had gone differently, we would be having a birthday party for a 4-year old right around Christmas time. That is a hard realization each and every year. I find hope in honoring this little one's life through my work and my work serving YOU is part of my story of how I found goodness in the midst of sadness and despair. In other words, I doubt Indy FertilityCare would exist if I had never carried my little Perfecta for 5 weeks in my womb.
If this is not a season where you need these resources, would you consider sharing this post with a friend who is going through these things right now?
And if you need someone to listen, don’t hesitate to reach out. I am here for you.
Resources for Infertility
Advent and Infertility: Rediscovering a Season of Hope – Catholic Standard, Archdiocese of Washington
Carrying the Cross of Infertility during Advent – Blessed is She
Childless at Christmas: A Survival Guide – Deseret News
Where to Get the Support You Need During the Holiday Season – Your Fertile Self
The Infertility Companion for Catholics: Spiritual and Practical Support for Couples by Carmen Santamaria and Angelique Ruhi-Lopez
The Organic Conceptions Program Holiday Message
More info on the Organic Conceptions Program
The Creighton Model FertilityCare System-- Indy FertilityCare
The Shared Journey Fertility Program™ -- yinRoot
Resources for Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss
A Release from Remembering- HOPE Mommies
Christmas Day Encouragement “I Miss Your Baby” – HOPE Mommies
Helping Families Heal during the Holiday Season- Share Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support
Surviving the Holidays- Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope
Ways to Honor Your Baby in Heaven- Bridget’s Cradles
After Miscarriage: A Catholic Woman’s Companion to Healing & Hope by Karen Edmisten
Grieving the Child I Never Knew by Kathe Wunnenberg
Grieving Together: A Couple’s Journey through Miscarriage by Laura Kelly and Franco David Fanucci
Mothering Spirit by Laura Kelly Fanucci
Christmas Keepsake to Commemorate your Loved One
Request a Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Tell me, what other resources have you found helpful during your journey (whether related to the Christmas season or not)?
Also, feel free to leave any prayer requests or intentions in the comments and I will hold them in my prayers, especially at Christmas Eve Mass.
Above: Big brother Teddy's proud moment meeting his baby sister Jennifer on April 21, 2016.
Watching our children become siblings is a memorable and formative time. When my husband and I were expecting our daughter, Jennifer, we prepared our son (as best as possible) by reading him a lot of books about being a big brother, mommy having a baby in her belly, and what would happen when baby arrived. While he was a little under 2 at the time, these books have indeed become favorites that we still read now that he is becoming a big brother again to his new brother coming in March. Jennifer has a slightly different taste in books (word and board books are her favorites), but she loves babies SO MUCH that I am not quite as worried about her transition to becoming a big sister as I was with Teddy.
Since it's so cold in many parts of the United States right now, it's the perfect time to snuggle up with your little one(s) and read some good books, perhaps with a warm tea, coffee, or hot chocolate for yourself.
Here is a list of my top 3 favorite books about becoming a big brother or sister, in no particular order:
1. The New Baby by Mercer Mayer
This one is precious, especially because it emphasizes that the older child is indeed “so lucky” to get a baby sibling. It has a positive tone that getting a sibling is indeed a good thing, and that there are important ways the big kid can help with the new baby.
2. I’m a Big Brother/I’m a Big Sister by Joanna Cole, Illustrated by Rosalinda Kightley
Teddy has this one nearly memorized, which is absolutely precious. It does not hurt that he looks a bit like the boy in the book. I also like that you can get a boy or girl version of the book based upon which sex your child is. The story emphasizes that there are exciting things about being older, like being able to walk, talk, play with toys, and eat “big kid” foods and reminds the child of their parents’ unconditional love, even though that love is now being extended to the new baby too.
3. On Mother’s Lap by Ann Herbert Scott, Illustrated by Glo Coalson
This book was first introduced to me by my own mom. It is about an Eskimo mother and two boys. The older child enjoys being rocked by his mother and seems to be okay with his toys, special objects, and puppy also being rocked by his mother. However, when his baby brother begins crying, his mother suggests that she rock him too, reminding her older child that “there is always room on Mother’s lap”. Although he is a bit stubborn at first, he warms up to the idea eventually. My mom loves getting this as a present for mothers expecting their second child. The illustrations are captivating.
Will any of your older child(ren) be attending your birth? Birth Boot Camp has an excellent Sibling workbook on preparing your children for the birth of your new child. Check it out here!
What have been some of your favorite books to read to your kids during your pregnancy? What am I missing on my list?
By Liz Escoffery
Certified FertilityCare Practitioner & Birth Boot Camp Instructor
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