Saturday, November 6, 2010

Looking Back: First Halloween vs "First" Halloween

My guys are almost fourteen months old, so technically this isn't their first Halloween. Last year, however, they were in the hospital and we had seceded from planet earth.  We therefore consider this year to be their "first" holiday season.

Last year, early in my pregnancy I had begun researching great costumes for women with big pregnant bellies. I had considered painting my belly like a fish bowl, or going as a pregnant nun. I was putting a lot of thought into this, knowing it would most likely be the only Halloween I would ever spend pregnant, and wanting to capitalize on what I knew would be a ginormous tummy.  I LOVE Halloween and was looking forward to decorating our new home and handing out candy to the neighborhood kids.

Obviously, none of this came to pass. By the time October arrived, my sons were born and struggling their way through the NICU experience.  My belly was no longer wonderfully round.  Instead it was the odd flabby post-pregnancy bump that manages to look just enough like actual pregnancy to be entirely depressing.  I would not be wearing an adorable preggo costume.  Not only that, we would not be handing out candy.  Like most preemie parents, we were terrified of germs in a way that only TV's Monk could understand.  The thought of little germ-was coming to the door with their grubby hands expecting candy - no matter how adorably dressed- was terrifying and revolting to us.  I know it might seem petty, but I was terribly sad to not be celebrating the holiday.

You see, this wasn't just a matter of Halloween. Halloween marked the beginning of our holiday season in seclusion. We could not celebrate the holodays as a new family. We were not living under the same roof.  We were exhausted from living half at the hospital. We were terrified of germs, making us hesitant to see family and friends to celebrate. Barely having energy to put together dinner on any kind of regular basis, a holiday meal was out of the question.  While I did not begrudge anyone else their holiday joy, and in fact still love the holidays, I could not stomach being surrounded by all that cheer.  We certainly didn't have the time or strength to deal with the inevitable family drama.  We made a conscious decision to not observe any holidays that year. Halloween was the first of our unmarked 2009 holiday season.  We truly were in our own world, separate from everyone else we knew.

Because we were not handing out candy, I did not want to decorate. I feel strongly that decorating for Halloween is like advertising you will have candy. I didn't want to be making a false promise to the neighborhood kids.  In the week leading up to the holiday, hospital volunteers made Halloween themed baby blankets, of which each of our boys got one. The guys were still in isolettes, however, so the blankets just draped over the top. Cheery pumpkin faces grinned at me from the top of my preterm babies' incubators.  It was a lovely gesture, but really made me feel more isolated from the season.  We spent Halloween day at the hospital. At the last minute, we decided to offer candy. We still did not want to be in direct contact with children so we set bowls of candy on the porch. We turned off all our lights and hid out in our bedroom. Later, when the bowls were empty and sanitized, we wondered if one kid took all the candy, or if the honor system worked and chocolates and starburst were available to all.

This year was a complete turnaround!  We decorated the house! We hung fake spiderwebs and had a spooky picture that screamed when you pushed a button. I did not dress up to hand out candy, but we did hand it out and I got to see so many adorable costumes! 

I dressed my guys up as characters from Shaun of the Dead. Now, this is goofy --we didn't take them anywhere or even bring them to the door. We literally just dressed them up to take pictures, then let them put their T-shirts back on. We watched H walk around the living room and listened to K babble away. Sometimes the guys would follow me to the door. It was the beat best Halloween ever.

Again, this sets the tone for the rest of the holiday season. We're planning to have thanksgiving at my folks' house, with Hubby's folks and brother invited. We will hang lights this Christmas, and will celebrate in our own home with whatever family wants to join us. It feels so good to be part of the world again!

1 comment:

  1. What a difference a year makes! It is so good to hear the joy in your voice as you celebrate the holidays with your family... all under one roof! We are very happy for you.

    Preemies mean so much to us. I want to let you know that we will be participating in the Bloggers Unite Fight for Preemies event on November 17th, Prematurity Awareness Day. I thought you might be interested in joining us. Here’s a link for more info and to sign up to help us spread the word: Nov. 17th is the day we all fight – because babies shouldn’t have to.