The big day has come and gone, our bellies are a bit fatter and you can not help but feel a little sad it’s all done for another year. 

This years been a tough one, after losing my cousin, who was more of a little brother to me. He passed away in Jan from a rare form of cancer. He was 27. We are totally broken without him. 

I was dreading sitting around the table feeling the empty space where he should be. He made the event so much fun as he was crazy. Even the Christmas’s I was with my husbands family he would FaceTime or text me. His absence was heavy on the day. 

We managed to get through it and it’s amazing how much my “brave face” has gotten me through over the years, all that practice came in useful. Yesterday was the first day I noticed what my families “brave face” looked like. It’s also the first time mine wouldn’t stay in place and I couldn’t help the tears that fell. 

We smiled, we even laughed, we shared memories but we mainly missed him. We did the best we could and sometimes that’s the best that can be expected. My aunt and uncle showed amazing strength as did the rest of our family.  The urge to stay in bed and not bother was overwhelming so I feel so proud of us that we did IT. 

When you are going through fertility treatment or having difficulty conceiving. Your brave face becomes more of a perminant fixture at these difficult times of the year. As people fuss the children in your family, perhaps cooing over the new arrivals that ache from your empty arms seems unbearable and a perfect smile stays put while you play the part of a happy person. If anyone were to look closely they would see the pain lurking behind that smile. 

This year I noticed the brave faces of my family because I was looking for them, I wondered how many other years I had missed them. I recognised the pain filled eyes behind the smiles and laughter. You never know what’s going on in other people’s life’s. How many other moments were they struggling and I had missed it? Just as they had missed mine. Sometimes it’s those closest to you that don’t have the strength to find the right words to tell you they are in pain.

Many people I have spoken to since writing about our journey, their family and friends do not know they are even trying for children. Often plagued by chants of “when are you two doing to become three??” Or “You’re not getting any younger!” Would be a like a punch to the stomach of someone who just wants to scream.  

WE ARE TRYING!!!!!!!!! WE ARE!!!!!!

I don’t expect you to offer tea and sympathy to all the childless members of your family or indeed those of childbearng age who may be trying for another child unsuccessfully, just in case. But to consider that perhaps if asking the questions are appropriate. Consider –  is it your business? Such a simple question can seem harmless to you but in reality to someone unable to have a family it cuts like a knife. 

Often much of what has been said to me over years has come from a good place, it still hasn’t stopped me imagining drop kicking them, while a perfect smile and well rehearsed answers falls out of my mouth. BRAVE FACE. 

Yes brave faces are useful. But if you can recognise one, offer a friendly ear or hug. That extra hug or kind word may be the thing they need to get through a difficult day.  Rather than quizzing someone on their family plans perhaps find other more interesting topics of conversation. I always like to talk holidays ….. holidays are the ultimate distraction from all things baby for me!

It’s the support of my friends and family but most of all my husband that got me through. Find someone you CAN talk to, to let that face slip. It’s exhausting pretending to be ok all the time, it’s ok to admit you’re not sometimes. 

I hope your Christmas went well and you found strength in those around you.