The Holiday Letter I Wish I Could Send

Every Christmas, I send a cute photo card of Brad and me. But after yet another year of dealing with infertility, I felt compelled to write an honest holiday letter…which I ended up being too scared to send…

This year, I decided to write a raw, authentic holiday letter. I wrote it, but I chickened out when it came time to send it.

Instead, I sent a gold foil-pressed one with a photo of Brad and me smiling as we dance at a friend’s wedding. We look so carefree. So in-the-moment. I love this photo and yet it feels like a total lie. It screams, “See how happy we are? See how connected we are? Our life is perfect.”

Below is the Christmas letter I wish I had been brave enough to send. Strong enough to post on Facebook. But no. It sits on this silly blog. Anyway, this is how our 2015 really went…



This year, you guys…between lots of family health issues, kitty health issues and boatloads of fertility disappointment…2015 was just not our year.

It’s hard to be open and honest about our fertility journey. But I have to be. I owe it to everyone else who is going through this same thing silently. This year, I learned that this beast plagues so many of us, but so few talk about it openly. And I totally get why. Fertility isn’t something people talk lightheartedly about at barbecues. It’s personal. It’s intense. It’s scary. But it’s also needlessly isolating…which is why I am about to compulsively over-share right now (for the squeamish and overly modest, consider this your TMI warning).

My expectations were tragically misaligned when Brad and I started this journey in September 2014. It’s been 16 months. 16 months of continuous disappointment. 16 months of peeing on plastic…which adds a whole new meaning to the phrase “test taking anxiety.” 16 months of learning about my body and becoming unphased by phrases like “cervical mucus.” 16 months of trying to avoid Facebook, which is a minefield of jealousy-inducing sonograms and announcements. 16 months of becoming a witchdoctor and trying everything both scientific and deeply unscientific—from yoga to acupuncture, and from Chinese herbs to (essentially) standing on my head. And 16 months isn’t even that long for a lot of couples! Of course I didn’t know any of this before we started trying. I thought deciding to have a baby would be like deciding to go get frozen yogurt. You just did it.

False. At least for us. Some people get pregnant really fast and really easily…like on their honeymoons or the first month they ditch the birth control. But our process has been the opposite of fast and easy. It’s been exhausting and crazymaking, especially for a natural-born control freak like me. My friends can attest to this, as I’ve become an obsessive, over-sharing mess, prone to crying at deeply inappropriate times at deeply inappropriate places.

So now, a soapbox moment: please be aware of how fertility and miscarriages may be affecting the people in your life. Many don’t talk about it and suffer silently for years. You’re not helping when you ask, “When are you guys having kids?” or “When are you guys having another kid?” They might be asking themselves the same thing. I know not everyone wants to be parents, but some of us really do and we will talk about it when we are ready. Please don’t flippantly say crap like, “Your job is your baby,” or “You can always adopt!” or “You’re so lucky you still get to sleep in and drink bloody mary’s,” because some of us would swear off bloody mary’s forever just to hear a heartbeat during an ultrasound.

That said it hasn’t all been doom and gloom. The silver lining is that going through this has helped me uncover my truest friends. My board of directors. The patient, consistent, empathetic ones who have been there for every painful, terrifying step…always offering me a soft place to fall and a big glass of wine. I could not go through this without the love, kindness, emotional presence, good humor and blinding optimism of my tribe…you’ve been able to be hopeful when I have not, and I’ve really counted on that. Thank you, thank you, thank you for letting me be my imperfect, babbling, dramatic texting, over-sensitive self during these impossible, seemingly endless months. It does not go unnoticed. And of course a special thank you to the ever-patient, ever-loving, ever-funny Brad who gives me humor, calm and kindness during this whole thing…proving, once again, what a great father he will (hopefully) make one day.

So where are we now? We’re still trying. We’re working…on ourselves, on our home and on our relationship. We’re doing some preliminary testing which has given us no reason to panic, and together B and I will determine the next step. And the next step. And the next step…whatever they may be. Thank you, everyone, for your sensitivity and support during this time. And to anyone who has gone through this or is going through this or will go through this, know I am here to talk. I’ve experienced a million emotions through this journey—fear, jealousy, anger, shame, anxiety, resentment, loneliness, gratitude, hope—all of it. I’m here for you. Our community is here for you. You are not alone. I promise.

Elyse Ash is the founder and CEO of Fruitful Fertility. It took her and her husband Brad three years, two rounds of IVF and one frozen embryo transfer to see their first positive pregnancy test which brought them their daughter, born in March 2018. Elyse lives in Minneapolis and loves poetry, hockey, social justice, Beyonce and pretending she’s into yoga.

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