Christmas is Hard

I’m not convinced about Christmas this year.

To be honest I’m never completely convinced about Christmas; there’s so much stress and preparation and build up that by the time the day comes round I’ve had enough already. I’ve bought all the presents and wrapping paper and I’ve got a Squidge free day this week so I can get them all wrapped. I’ve sent cards because I don’t want people to think I’m rude and because Squidge made them at nursery and I’m very proud of them.

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Apart from that I haven’t really done anything. The tree and the decorations aren’t up, I deliberately listen to a radio station that doesn’t play Christmas songs (although I can’t escape from the adverts) and I’m just not feeling it.

The fact that it’s Squidge’s first Christmas and my family are all really excited is just making me feel worse.

I can’t make myself feel excited but there’s the expectation that I should and that just makes me panic.

On the day I’ll put on my best Christmas face and the seasonal jumper that my mum has bought me, hope that people like the gifts I’ve chosen for them and enjoy seeing my family that I simply don’t see enough of.

However, I’ll be glad when the actual day is all done.

When the pressure to have a wonderful time because it’s Christmas day is off and I can just enjoy some relaxed family time. My parents so badly want this Christmas to be good because last year wasn’t so great and because it’s Squidge’s first. Squidge will have a lovely day regardless because he’ll be with the people that love him and there’ll be boxes to play with even though he won’t have a clue what’s going on.

I’m looking forward to his first birthday; being able to celebrate the first year of his life and the fact that I’ve managed not to break him.

Christmas 2013 was not great. I was pregnant and in a bad place, my brother was ill and my parent’s poor little dog was having chemotherapy and suffering with it. My parents and brother came to stay with us so there were five adults; one very tall and one very pregnant squashed into our rather small house along with a dog who needed letting out into the garden every half hour but still had accidents on the floor. I wasn’t allowed to touch the dog did to the chemo drugs potentially affecting Squidge so kept having to tell the poor little thing to get down every time he asked for a cuddle.

There were lots of tears

We were all stressed, worried and tired. I was getting up four or five times in the night because Squidge was squishing my bladder and letting the dog out at the same time.

This year my brother has been ill again, my Dad’s not in the best health. Me and the Northern one are stressed about his application for specialist training as it means we might have to move house or out of the area completely and so I would need a new job.

We’re also generally worn out from having a 9 month old who sleeps through the night just enough times for us to get used to unbroken sleep and then for no apparent reason decides he needs company at 0200.

Breathe

We’re going to stay with my parents this year so there will be much more space and at least I don’t have to organise food and the like but I’ll be travelling up Christmas eve and then back again on Boxing day to go back to work the day after. The journey takes four hours minimum if the traffic is good and you don’t stop.

It’s making me feel tired just thinking about it.

The unit isn’t the happiest place to be in the run up to Christmas as the majority of the parents know that they aren’t going to be able to take their baby home to spend the day as a family. Some of them won’t be taking their babies home at all.

I think about those parents, current and past who aren’t going to have their baby with this year or maybe any year.

Every year there is at least one family who asks if they can take their baby home just for the day or if they can bring all their friends and family to the hospital. It’s heart breaking to have to say no but it just can’t be done. If the baby was well enough to go home for one day then they’d be well enough to go home full stop and we have visiting restrictions because we simply don’t have the space for lots of visitors. If we said yes to one family we’d have to say yes to them all and there wouldn’t be room to move on the unit or for us to be able to do our jobs.

The Christmas before I went off we had even more stringent visiting restrictions than usual due to an outbreak of a respiratory virus that can be fatal to preterm babies due to their underdeveloped lungs. Several parents asked us if we could relax the restrictions just for Christmas day and were really upset when we reminded them why the restrictions were in place and told them as nicely as we could that the babies could still become ill and germs could still be spread even though it was Christmas.

It sounds incredibly patronising but there was no other way to put it. They still thought we were being really mean and asked some of the doctors before they realised that there was no way we were risking the babies just because it was Christmas.

Knowing that all of those parents would do just about anything to have their little ones home for Christmas makes me feel horribly ungrateful.

I try so hard not to be.

I am so greatful for my little family

The fact that Squidge is healthy and happy.

That I have a loving husband; that I married my best friend.

That we both have good jobs, a nice house that we own and that we’re financially stable.

That I do a job I love, even at Christmas.

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