Christmas makes everything twice as sad*

I am spending a second day at home in front of the telly, because I feel very sick and Cute Ute the Despoiler is making a horrible fuss (Stupid uterus. I dislike her intensely. The feeling is clearly mutual). Shark Week began today, so I hope (but by no means expect, damn it) that therefore I’ll be feeling less-than-dead by Saturday and will be able to sit upright on my pew at this blazin’ wedding.

I’ve done two loads of laundry and cleaned a lavatory. It’s not all been Criminal Minds marathons and hot-water-bottles. Alas.

H and I are trying to be festive. We bought a very (very very) small Christmas tree. We put up some decorations – snow-flakes, a wreath, a couple of reindeer. My dear friend korechronicles sent me a Christmas ornament a couple of years ago, which we hung on the bookshelf. I have some handpainted wooden stars as well I need to find a place for – we can’t hang anything on the tree, because you see, my tree is tiny, and so wee, that I sometimes think the pixies gave it to me**, and it would topple over. I received my first Christmas present – you know who you are, you and your classy classy gift-giving – so I opened it for Hanukkah, and am thrilled to absolute bits.

This year, we are going to H’s family for Christmas, because we feel they need us the most (My family is going skiing. Again. They keep asking us to come, but neither H nor I can ski, and the idea of being stuck with my sisters for a week in a country where I don’t speak the language and can’t just run screaming into the mountains in my nightie for fear of Death-By-Snowdrift, does not appeal). At least I won’t have my period (see last year. That was fun).

However to make up for my NOT having my period over Christmas at the ‘rents or in-laws, the In-Laws are coming to us. Tomorrow. So I can still have my period at them. HAH.

And I keep bursting into tears. I wanted to be pregnant. I haven’t been pregnant for so, so long, I am absolutely terrified that All Is Wrong in there and I can’t ever get pregnant again. I’ve had my lot, and they were all duds, and that is that.

Oh, and there’s the tiny question of Christmas, Season of Doom, in that I’ve had two miscarriages over the festive season, and it sucks. The media are doing wall-to-wall baby stories and family stories and babies and families stories and mothers and more babies and every radio is blaring out songs about the wonderful birth of a special baby and people send you cards with pictures of tiny shiny babies on them and Christmas is all about the kiddies, innit? And you don’t know the meaning of love or family until you’ve given birth, allegedly. Why not flay me and roll me in rimming salt while you’re at it?

Pikaia, my first poor little doomed embryo, would be nearly four this Christmas, if she’d actually grown a spine as her nickname suggested she should and lived. Have you seen a nearly-four-year-old in the run-up to Christmas? She’d be so excited you could power a small cathedral city off her for a week. And now she is nearly four, I have so many, many ideas for beloved books and adorable toys for her. I do, I really do, find myself looking at toys shop windows and thinking ‘Would Pikaia have liked that? I hope she would’ve liked that. It’s very cool.’ Or I look at books and think about reading it to Pikaia. And then I have to stop that right now and go and look at a book on astrophysics or baking, because grown women weeping over Dr Seuss are frankly unnerving.

Poor Pikaia. Of all our losses, she’s the one who really haunts me. She’s the only one I ever imagined (however briefly) as a living child, you see (too scarred/scared to do anything of the sort after her). She follows me about like a little ghost, slowly growing up as I grow older. I can see me in my late 50s being haunted by a red-haired university student who keeps forgetting to call home. But for the moment, she’s nearly four. She has fiery copper hair. She loves books and making things and drawing and music. She has a doll or teddy she adores beyond words. She has unusually small hands and feet, because her parents do, and is tall for her age, because her parents were. She is precocious and worryingly articulate, like me, and a little song-bird, like H. I don’t know if she’d be prone to brief but terrifying ferocious outbreaks of temper followed by tears like me, or pouting and sulking like H. I wish I did know. I miss her so much.

And I know I’m not the only one to have a ghost-child. Melissa wrote movingly about hers here (and it touched me particularly because I know that city so well, and can picture it). And then everyone chimed in in the comments, and I thought, see? I’m not mad. We’re not mad. Not mad at all.

* Douglas Copeland.
** Waitrose, actually.


19 responses to “Christmas makes everything twice as sad*

  • Rachel

    May, I know I don’t comment very often but I am still reading and still in awe of your writing. Of course this post hit home rather sharply because I have been reading since almost the beginning of your blog … and the fusspot turned 4 this past weekend. And for all of the other awful things in my life right now, for that I am and will always be endlessly grateful. I can’t tell you how much I hope that this is your year, that the cocktail of meds and some good luck bring you your long, long-awaited baby.

  • Amy P


    Yes, we should be able to exchange stories about our nearly-identical-in-age-nearly-4-year-olds this Christmas. And they’d be almost old enough to understand that their mamas have a friend far, far away with little ones whose birthdays are less than a month apart (though since Grace’s concept of far, far away starts at roughly 25 miles, there might be fits pitched over why we can’t go see you, with the supposed adult secretly agreeing…)

  • a

    Aw, you’re making me cry and miss Pikaia too, here.

    I don’t want to get all optimistic or anything, but perhaps you could reverse the trend of bad holidays this year…what with the potential timing of ovulation and all.

    So you and H have tiny hands and feet? Do you have trouble staying upright then, what with the generous endowments on the top half? 🙂

  • bionicbrooklynite

    I’m sure there are more than a few of us wishing we, too, we’re dreaming up gifts for your girl, eagerly awaiting her face on a card in our mailboxes. Much love.

    (ps, at least it’s your own bathroom for the festivities this year? Ugh.)

  • Hat

    “However to make up for my NOT having my period over Christmas at the ‘rents or in-laws, the In-Laws are coming to us. Tomorrow. So I can still have my period at them. HAH.”

    Too funny. I love your sense of humour.

  • manapan

    Mel always says that if you need help to get through the season, you can imagine her in your pocket. Well, put me in your pocket too. And prepare for one very full pocket of others who love you too. Hugs.

  • thalia

    Oh sweetie I can absolutely picture pikaia now you have described her. She is in my head too.

  • Melissia

    May, you are not alone. My Kathleen who was born still would have been 26 in September and I still envision her during certain stages of her life. I don’t think that ever goes away, and it is a comfort. I am thinking of you and H during the holidays and of you baby girl with her beautiful red hair who would have been 4.

  • Phil

    I’m sorry

    for you both

  • Phil

    That should be *hug* for you both

  • Twangy

    I am sorry too, May, for your losses and for this yearly reminder of them.

    We should head to a non-Christian country for the week, I always think, but the inertia is too great to overcome.

    Many hugs.

  • Anonymous

    No, you are not mad, not a bit. I had a D&C last December on the 23, and that ghost baby is with me daily. Your description of your daughter P took my breath away. There is a girl named Anna in my daughter’s class who is 4 and fits P’s description to a T..including the bouts of temper and the Teddy. My ghost baby is a boy who is into playing with his toes at the moment.

    You are an amazing writer. I hope every day that somehow, someway you get your child.

  • Katie

    I’m not sure if I have ghost children any more but I have parallel children. Children of, mainly, acquaintances (not sure if they were ever friends and I grew away from them, or if they weren’t anyway), who I see occasionally and who remind me that our Nigel & Delia or Sproutetta would have been that age. Would have been in primary school. I don’t seem to add new children to this group thank goodness, as my Rainbows are now in Nigel & Delia’s age group.

  • Jane G

    Yep I know what you mean about the ghost child. Ours is called Nollaig, and she would be five years old this Friday. Hugs to you and H xx

  • Korechronicles

    I live in hope for you and H. And that the meaning of that ornament will spread wide over the internets when your longed for child safely arrives. That’s what I felt when you told us about Pikaia.

    The ghost children make me cry for all of you who live with their memories of what might have been. Sending you hugs and wishes for gentle and happy times ahead.

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