I usually adore the holiday season.

But not this year. Holidays aren’t easy when you’re trying to have a baby. And it is not just because families are everywhere: Tourists crowd the streets rushing to buy last-minute presents, holiday cards with pictures of growing broods cram my mailbox, and all over the Internet happy families are making wacky videos about Christmas Jammies, or gathering their extended clans for a treacly iPhone commercial (where the antisocial teenage son isn’t texting on his phone – no, no, no, he’s making an amazing family movie).

Holidays are upsetting for the childless, for the uncoupled, for those without family, for all the sick, lonely and suffering people because they signify the passage of time, another year gone by. I remember how I used to hate tax season because I would dread my accountant’s saying: “Still single? Still living in the same house?” as if she couldn’t imagine that yet another year had passed and not one thing in my life changed.

Occasions put everything into stark perspective that we’d rather not think about.

Like last Christmas, I had just discovered I was pregnant. I’d sailed through New Year’s, wearing my sparkly green 2013 sunglasses, buoyed by the knowledge of what the year ahead promised: nausea, a swollen stomach, fat ankles and hours on the Internet picking out maternity clothes and baby names. Little did I know that my year would be filled with tears and fertility doctors and needles and pills and more uncertainty than I had ever faced.

And now I cannot believe another New Year has arrived, not only because I was sure I would be with child by now, but also because it was our deadline.

All baby-makers have deadlines: How long will I wait to meet the One before I start trying to have a baby on my own? How long will we try naturally before we go to a doctor? How long will we do noninvasive procedures before we move to I.V.F.? How much medicine will I take? How much money will we spend? How much time will I spend with this one doctor, on this one type of treatment, at this one clinic?

Solomon and I didn’t stick to most of our deadlines, but it’s been hard to ignore 2014 looming. After Christmas – a beautiful holiday filled with love and good cheer – the mean Grinch of Father Time reminds us we don’t have much of it left on this baby quest.

So unfortunately, we had to begin considering our Plan B. (Or C. Or D, or whatever letter we were up to by now.) Solomon calls it escalation: When a deadline passes, you have to up the stakes, do something different. Because madness, after all, is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

But I hate escalation plans, because I feel like by preparing for the next step, I’m saying this one will fail.

And yet, we’d always had an escalation plan: When we finally started this mini-I.V.F. (after trying to conceive naturally for longer than we should have), we said we’d give it a few tries – and we are up to our last one. Our next step would be full-force I.V.F. After that, donor eggs, and then, well, we didn’t really get that far.

We were hoping that the mini-I.V.F. would work by New Year’s. Who knew that I.V.F., like the capricious Mother Nature, wouldn’t conform to any plan or schedule? That one cycle might take three months because of all the complications, that another might be postponed or canceled, and that all of a sudden, fall would turn into winter, and then the end of December would be upon us, and suddenly that artificially imposed deadline we’d crafted so long ago would be hitting us smack in the face?

So now I was readying myself for another cycle, knowing it might be my last at this clinic – hopefully for the better! But possibly for the worse.

I still wanted to enjoy the holidays. So I went to my friend’s holiday party, gathered her little daughter in my lap under the glow of the Christmas tree, smelled the fresh baby shampoo in her fine hair, and hoped her baby magic would seep into my every pore.

And I repeated to myself a mantra from the holistic guru Louise Hay:

“All is well.

“Everything is working out for my highest good.

“Out of this situation only good will come.

“I am safe.”

– The New York Times Syndicate

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