Well that was unexpected.

Wow, so much to talk about. This weekend with the inlaws was quite eventful, and pretty much the opposite of what I expected.

The weekend started out rough, they arrived around dinner and were exhausted from the drive. I had a long day too; work then yoga then the grocery store, and then they were waiting for me when I got home. We were all a little crabby, and it took some maneuvering to figure out what we were going to do for dinner, and the result (just like usual) was me and my opinion were the odd man out. The next day went just about the same. They’re all happy to do their thing together, and I just don’t fit in 100%, so unless I push my way in, I’m usually a bit on the edge. Normally this doesn’t bother me that much, but I was finding myself so crabby and angry over our last visit, I just couldn’t seem to muster the energy. I just didn’t have it in me to make all the stupid small talk, and pretend everything was peachy. The result wasn’t pretty, and I was feeling alternately pissed off over some tiny thing MIL said, and then guilty for overreacting. I also managed to totally take it out on G, and scream his ear off a few times. In my defense, he does handle things pretty badly sometimes, but my expectations may have been a tad unrealistic :).

Then this morning rolls around, and suddenly the miraculous happens. MIL actually asked me how I’m doing, you know….’with the whole pregnancies thing’. Not exactly the epitome of sensitivity, but hey, I’m working on keeping my expectations realistic here. I was so not expecting it, and my reaction was just about as awkward as her question. “Well, we’re still trying, but, uh, it’s not going that well, and uh, we’re assuming it won’t work out even when it does, uh, happen’. What followed was totally uncomfortable, I did a lot of staring at my empty breakfast plate, but I tried to remind myself that this is what I asked for. I wanted her to show she cared even a tiny bit by asking how I am. So, I tried to just answer her questions and not get angry, defensive, or close off.

It was a weird conversation in a lot of ways, and part of me isn’t really sure what to make of it. I want to just be happy that she asked at all, and take it slowly, but there are things that grate on me as well. So here are a few of the highlights and low points:

  • She demonstrated that this has been on her mind. She brought me a book that she read on the drive down here, meaning she went so far as to look for a book about recurrent miscarriage. I never would have expected that.
  • But, when she gave me the book she told me she ‘skipped all the parts about the feelings and stuff’, because she was mostly concerned with figuring out how the woman in the book solved her problem. I think this perfectly represents how she’s thinking about our situation. To the point that she’s concerned, she’s concerned with fixing the problem, not with how this might be affecting us emotionally.
  • She said she knows it must be hard for us.
  • But, she followed that up by saying “Everybody has hard things to deal with”. This statement came up many many times, and eventually I couldn’t hold back from saying, ‘yeah, but honestly I think this is harder than most people’s hard things’. I don’t mean to diminish other people’s problems, and I did say that there are definitely worse things that could happen to us, but to compare infertility to not getting a job promotion or having financial problems is just not fair. It came across like she was telling us we shouldn’t complain because if it wasn’t this it’d be something else.
  • She made it very clear that she’d be happy if we adopted. This is something I’ve actually worried about. Given how she treats people in general, I could see her making a comment like ‘well, my real grandkids don’t misbehave like that’, or something along those lines. I suppose her saying that she’d be happy if we adopted doesn’t protect from that happening, but it’s a start.
  • She tried to tell us that, really, not that many people are having babies, its just that we’re paying too much attention.
  • Oh, and she tried to tell me I should get my cervix sewn shut and go on bedrest. So yeah.

Ultimately, I think it’s good that we’ve made it clear that the lines of communication are open now. I know a lot of people don’t want to talk about their infertility, and I TOTALLY get that. I think the only reason I wanted to in this case is that she already knew the details and had seen how much it was affecting me. There were no secrets left. To not talk about it at that point felt like she was judging me for how I was feeling, or like I should be ashamed of it. As uncomfortable and sometimes grating as the conversation was, I feel like it will be better going forward.

After we talked this morning, I found myself suddenly able to interact with everyone the way I normally do. I wasn’t feeling the extreme resentment I described in my last post, so I could make small talk and listen to MIL’s stories without hiding my face to roll my eyes. When they left this evening, I was able to stand outside and wave goodbye without thinking, ‘thank god they’re gone!.

And when I say that the lines of communication have been opened up, I’m not exaggerating. Not three hours after they left, I got an email from MIL entitled “Natural Ways to Prevent Miscarriage”. She must have been googling in the car, since they shouldn’t even be close to home yet. I opened the link, and immediately started to wonder if I’ve created a monster. It’s My Aunt Jane Knows More Than My RE all over again. This website is the type that drives me completely bonkers, with all kinds of crazy ‘natural’ remedies. It’s not that I don’t think that natural remedies can be good, I mean, I got on board with yoga and meditation. But, there is so much out there that is passed off as ‘medicine’ without a shred of evidence, and it’s exactly the opposite of what she needs to be reading. Case in point, it promotes bed rest as a way to prevent miscarriage. That’s sort of besides the point though, because by sending me something like that it sends the message that either I’m too dumb or lazy to have bothered with a google search myself sometime in the last three years, and/or that there’s something I should have been doing (laying in bed the moment I got a BFP???) that I haven’t been doing, which makes my miscarriages my own fault.

I’m trying not to overreact over the email. I screamed a little at first, then calmed down some. She’s trying to help. She doesn’t realize how it comes across. I’m not sure how to handle it though. Should I ignore it? Respond with some attempt at maturity, and tell her I appreciate the thought, but I’ve read lots of these articles already?

Now, there’s one more aspect of this that’s bothering me, and I’m not sure if I’m being paranoid. In some sort of fit of insanity, the lovable G decided to mention that I have this blog. It was mostly in passing, but I’m pretty sure she got the message. She later asked me how one would find a blog online, because, um, her friend has one. I tried to throw her off and say that you’d really need to have the name of the blog, and lots of people write anonymously, but I can’t be certain she won’t try to find me here. That would be completely and totally awful, given what I’ve written before. As much as I mean everything I’ve said, I only have the nerve to say any of it knowing that no one I know in real life will ever read it. If I haven’t said it before, I’m completely and totally terrified of conflict. So, the question is, am I being paranoid that she could find me? My blog doesn’t exactly pop up in the first set of results on google, but I’m sure if she looked hard enough she could find it eventually. Am I being paranoid here, or should I take down the posts I’ve written about her? Anyone have thoughts??

 

 

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Trying to come to terms with friends and family who just don’t get it…..

bird on wireRecently, Coral Blooms wrote a post that hit really close to home for me. Basically, the issue is about friends and family who know what we’ve been through and yet choose to ignore it. Maybe they’re kind and supportive at first, but as time goes by, they act as if it never happened, or as if we should obviously be over it already.

In my case, this is about 90% of the people I’ve told about my situation. The one huge exception is my parents, but everyone else displays this pattern to some degree. I have two close friends who will always listen if I bring it up, but they certainly don’t ask about it. In fact, one of these friends actually forgot I was pregnant last time and never asked how it turned out. We are very close, but sometimes a few weeks go by without having a chance to talk, so when I told her I was pregnant I was already 5 or 6 weeks and bleeding. It was over email and I think what I said was “I’m most likely having my fourth failed pregnancy”. So, maybe it didn’t come across just how depressed I was about the situation (I have trouble showing how I feel about this because I hate the idea that people will think I’m weak). She wrote back and said sorry, but not to give up yet because it could still turn out okay despite the bleeding (HA!).

I didn’t hear from her again for another month or so, until right after I had surgery. She actually emailed to ask me a favor, and never mentioned anything about the pregnancy. She had completely forgotten. This broke my heart a little, both that this friend I thought was so close could have so little concern for what was happening in my life as to forget a pregnancy, but also that the state of my life was such that me being pregnant was basically a non-event. She certainly didn’t forget the first time I told her I was pregnant, or even the second, because those times she thought it meant something. By the fourth time, it was most likely just another miscarriage, which clearly I shouldn’t be too upset about (since I’d already done it three times, duh!), so it didn’t register as important on her radar. I don’t say this to defend her because I really was extremely hurt and angry.

I completely ignored her first email (passive aggressive much?), and we didn’t speak for another month. Eventually, she wrote again and asked if everything was okay. My first instinct was to pretend nothing had ever happened, I have issues with conflict. But, ultimately I decided that her friendship was important enough to try to be direct, rather than just secretly resenting her. So I told her I was really hurt that she hadn’t asked how the pregnancy turned out. She admitted that she had forgotten, apologized profusely, and said she promised she would never be that inconsiderate again. And to be fair, she hasn’t been since then. But the message is still clear. A pregnancy or miscarriage in my life just does not come across as a big deal anymore.  As a statement about the current condition of my life, this hurts as much as anything else.

Sadly, this type of thing is the rule not the exception. My SIL (who has had two babies since we started trying) said she was sorry about my loss the first time I had a miscarriage, and I’m fairly sure she has not said ‘I’m sorry”, or anything similar a single time since. In fact, after miscarriage #3 she said “well it’ll happen when the time is right”. Luckily I managed to resist screaming or throwing something (at her?). In the interest of not writing a 20 page blog post, I won’t give all the examples of things like this that have happened over the past 2.5 years. In general, the rule has been that people say something once, then never bring it up again, or if I bring it up, they tend to say something in passing and change the subject as fast as possible.

Now that I’ve complained about all these people in my life, I do want to say that the point of this post was not to talk about how awful my support system is. In fact, I do think I’m pretty lucky over all. My mother is possibly the most amazing person on the planet, and I can always count on her. G (my husband) was not terribly emotionally available for the first year and a half, but he (and our relationship) has come so far and now he is as understanding as I could ever hope for.  The actual point of this post was supposed to be that I am trying to find some understanding for where these people (who I do believe care about me) are coming from with their inconsiderate behavior. Especially when it comes to family members, I won’t be able to just shut them out (although I REALLY want to at times), so it can only help to try to give them the benefit of the doubt and understand where they’re coming from.

I think it comes down to 3 things. 1) They don’t know what to say, or think I don’t want to talk about it. I understand that when bad things happen, it makes people awkward and uncomfortable. I’ve definitely felt this way myself, wondering what to say to someone who has lost a family member or pet. I know the feeling of wanting to just move on and talk about something less uncomfortable. All I can say though is that if you care about someone, you HAVE to try anyways, no matter how uncomfortable you may be.  Just say something!! ANYTHING is probably better than nothing. I think this applies to a number of friends, and ultimately, I don’t think I’ll be able to maintain a friendship with the people who have never once asked me how things are going after the first miscarriage (we stupidly told a number of people the first time we were pregnant, so quite a few people new about that one). It’s too hard to care about their happy lives when they don’t seem to care in the least about mine. If they can’t be bothered to make an effort, then I’m not going to make an effort to give them the benefit of the doubt.

2) They just don’t understand how hard it all actually is. I think this applies to my SIL and the friend I mentioned earlier. They do care, and they probably want to help, but they just don’t have any idea how hurt I really am by all of this. I definitely share some responsibility here, because I’m not great at showing emotion. I have this idea that I need to appear strong, but people will obviously know that inside I’m hurting desperately (because how could I not be), and act accordingly. Honestly, it’s probably not fair to ask them to just intuitively figure out how upset I am. This is really tough though because I don’t know if I will ever be able to fully show them how I feel. I don’t want to have to. But they may never be able to really empathize if I don’t.

And finally, 3) Other peoples’ pain is really scary. This is the factor that really got me thinking about all of this. I was recently reading an article about someone who had a stillbirth. I could feel myself starting to get caught up in her pain, and my instinct was to run like hell. Close the article, bury it under a stack of other magazines, and never ever think about it ever again. The idea of that much suffering was too scary for me to think about, and I wanted to just put up a wall and pretend it didn’t exist. It’s at least possible that people might have this kind of reaction to hearing about all the loss in my life. Maybe it’s just a natural instinct for self-protection.

I don’t say these things to excuse anyone’s behavior, it still hurts and I badly want to react in some negative way. I don’t even know that I’ll be able to do anything about it if I understand. But in the case where I can’t get away from people (my SIL for example, I think I’m rather stuck with her), maybe it will help to try to understand where they’re coming from.  I want to have relationships with these people, but it’s so hard to get over the resentment. If nothing else, it’s teaching me how not to act when someone I care about is going through a rough time.