I’ve spent most of the last three and a half years waiting.
Waiting for a cycle to start, waiting for test results, waiting for blood work, waiting for an ultrasound, waiting for a miscarriage, waiting for our home study to be approved, waiting for an adoption, waiting for a baby.
During the waiting period, I’ve been excited, frustrated, hopeful, scared, angry, depressed, and exhausted. We’ve tried many coping mechanisms to deal with the wait, including enjoying our lives as they are now (along with friends and family, we bought a boat!), going on vacation, talking with supportive friends and family, praying, grieving, spending time with kids, spending time away from kids, holing up in our house, going out and having fun…and the list goes on.
I’m part of an adoption support group on Facebook, and lately we’ve been talking about how we cope with the wait during the holidays. Some of us have to bite our tongues at family dinners, when family members ask us when we will finally have a family of our own. Some of us take vacations so that we don’t have to see the little ones at family gatherings, who are a reminder of the one thing we want more than anything else in the world. Some of us smile and laugh, then go home and cry because it’s one more year without a baby. Some of us have a glass of wine, to take the edge off. Some of us who are Christian have trouble feeling hopeful during Christmas-time, because we are too sad, frustrated, or tired. And some of us can’t listen to the Christmas carols and songs and sermons and prayers announcing the birth of a baby…
Advent is a season of waiting and anticipation. During this time, Christians await the coming of a baby who will bring peace, love and hope to a world that desperately needs it. We spend the four weeks before Christmas preparing for this miraculous birth, but for those of us who are waiting and hoping for a child, this season of waiting and anticipation can be so hard. We struggle to hope, because it has not been an easy thing to find in our own lives.
I realize that this post is a sad one, during what is usually such a beautiful, joyous time. And it can be joyous – even for those of us who are struggling as we wait to become parents. I for one, feel a little more hopeful when my family and friends acknowledge that this time might be hard for my spouse and me. They give us permission to be sad as we need to during the happy times. They let us duck out on events that we probably “should” attend. What also helps is when our church family provides space for grief and sadness during Advent. Each year, we have a service of grief and remembrance, for those of us who need a place where we can let down our facade, for just a minute, in the presence of God and community. These gestures of care and community mean so much. They allow us to see and feel the love and care that surrounds us, even in the hard times.
Not everyone will be comforted by the same things, so if you know someone who might be struggling with hope during this Advent season, consider asking how you can provide some support or what they might need. And for those of you who, like me, are waiting to become parents or grieving the loss of a child or pregnancy – be gentle with yourself. Take time to grieve. And try to find joy and hope where you can. As you find ways to experience hope and joy during the season, or ways to cope during this waiting period, please share them with me here or on our Facebook page.
I hope that we are all able to find peace, hope, love and joy during this Advent season.