Well that was unexpected, Part II (aka, weird experiences with the in-laws)

Thank you all for your sincere messages and concern the past few days. I’m trying to hold things together and keep from thinking too much about the situation until we know more, but it’s pretty hard to not think about it with the constant reminder of the nausea and other symptoms. In the meantime though, we decided it was time to finally tell G’s family. I told my mom pretty much right away and have kept her updated along the way, but I left it to G to decide when he wanted to tell his family.

Telling them has been stranger than we could have imagined. In the past two days we’ve had  two of the most surprising and/or strangest interactions we’ve ever had with them. G called his parents on Thursday night, but he happened to catch his dad on his commute, so he ended up telling them separately. FIL was sweet, if a little in denial. He kept telling us how he’d pray for us (which doesn’t do a lot for me since we’re atheists, but I appreciate that it means something to him), and that God would fix this. Again, I appreciate the thought, but I don’t want him to end up more let down later because he didn’t beleive how serious this is.

Then G called his mom, and she had a similar reaction, if a little less in denial. She said she’d pray, but she understood how unlikely it is to work out. Then she went on to tell us about how we could still do this, it could still work for us eventually. We made it clear that we don’t really think it’s an option to keep trying if we can’t figure out what’s wrong, and she eventually said she could understand that.

She also suggested that maybe surrogacy was the best option, and maybe my parents could pay for it. This offends me a little because they seem to think my parents are rich, which is far from the case. They own a small business that may or may not go out of business in the next year after they put all of their funds into it (leaving aside some for retirement). That’s a sore spot for me I guess, but we made it clear that we wouldn’t be asking them for money. Then MIL started to get into how much she has saved, and maybe if we were okay with only having one child, they could help us. My initial reaction to this was, wow, coming from her that’s crazy generous. She’s insane about saving money, which is why she might have enough to pay for maybe 2/3 of the cost of surrogacy despite the two of them having very modest incomes.

I really really don’t think we would take their money to do surrogacy, and honestly I’m not even sure surrogacy is something I’m interested in anyway. But, I was impressed that she would be willing to give us her hard-pinched pennies at all. Then, it came out why. We said we think that adoption is probably a better option for us, both because it costs less, and for other reasons as well, and she says, “Well, I just don’t know if that’s a good idea. You have to be so careful. We know so many people who’ve had problems with adopted kids. And look at all the problems they have when they grow up”.

Now, first of all, this is only sort of true for them. They do know a few people who’ve had serious problems with adopted kids. But these were people who chose to adopt very high risk babies. One had a very serious physical disability, and the other was born addicted to drugs. These are amazing people to be willing to take on those challenges, but it isn’t remotely a fair way to judge adoption as a whole. In her own family, MIL has three adopted nieces. One is very well adjusted, albeit a little annoying, and the other two have dealt with addiction. They are both extremely lovely women who just ran into some challenges (arguably partly due to the way they were raised!!). And lets not ignore just how many problems there are in the family amongst the people who are NOT adopted. I just despise the fact that she’s judging, rather openly, members of her own family for being adopted. The bottom line is, she’d rather give us all her hard earned money, that she won’t even spend to go out to dinner once a month or buy a functional coffee maker, on a surrogate for us, rather than have us take in one of those dangerous problematic adopted babies. This is so not what I need to hear right now, when I need to know that if pregnancy is not an option, I still have a way to have a family. I don’t need any additional reasons to be worried about adopting (my child’s grandmother talking about him or her as a family problem).

So, Friday morning I wasn’t in the greatest place anticipating having to go visit them. When out of nowhere, G forwards me this email:

Hi G – I have been thinking about you and J(me). We would love to have you come for Christmas. I want you both to feel comfortable about coming, so if you think it wouldn’t be a good time to travel, we understand. You know when you stay at our house, you can relax whenever you want. If you come and would like me to change any plans, I can. We are having the Christmas Eve dinner at K’s (SIL) and Christmas Day at Aunt K’s. You could drive separately on that day and go back to our house early if needed. Thursday was the brunch plans and (cousins with new baby) and (pregnant cousin) can’t come. Talk this over with J. I could cancel these plans for Thursday if you would rather not have a bunch over.  We can talk over the weekend. I said my prayers for you and J. This would be great if things turn around. Love, Mom

Wow. Just wow. I’m so shocked that these words came out of her mouth (well, hands). I never would have thought she could anticipate how hard it would be for us, particularly to see the cousins with the new baby, who are specifically the ones I wrote about here. I’m overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness of this email, and I feel so so much better about going to visit (doesn’t hurt that we no longer have to see the baby/pregnant cousin). It even inspired me to think that if she could surprise me about this, maybe she can surprise me and be supportive if/when we adopt.

Then comes this morning, and we get a call from SIL. G never got a chance to tell her himself, but we assumed his parents would tell her. They live down the street and talk every day. SIL calls today to ask us what we want to drink on Christmas eve (an odd question in retrospect since she did know I’m pregnant). It was probably just an excuse to talk though. I didn’t hear the whole conversation they had, but I could tell from the odd look on G’s face that it was going very strangely. After he hung up, he said, “my sister just offered to have a baby with your brother”.

Yep, you heard that right. Her solution to our problem is to use my brother’s sperm and do artificial insemination. I just. I don’t. I don’t even know what to say. I wanted to laugh, but my stomach was turning at the thought of it (not that it doesn’t do that constantly anyway). I just said “Honey, hug me, I’m scared”, and started laughing. I mean, ewwwww! There is nothing good about this idea. I would never ask that of my brother, knowing how weird it would be for him. Plus, there is no chance in hell I would let SIL carry for us. I couldn’t handle it. We’re not exactly close, first of all. Her pregnancies have never been easy, she seemed to barely survive the second one. I guess I should be honored that she’d offer given that, but I just honestly think I wouldn’t survive the experience knowing she was suffering that much for me when we aren’t even close. That doesn’t even get in to the level of awfulness I would feel having to watch someone else (someone who has everything I’ve ever wanted and I struggle with jealously of to begin with), do the one thing I can’t do, for me. I would feel so unbelievably powerless, and useless. The whole thing is just so awkward I don’t even know what to say.

I know the appropriate response to an offer like this from SIL is to be appreciative. I do appreciate that she wants to help. But, it’s very hard for me to beleive or accept that she could be doing it from a generous place. I feel like an awful person for saying it, but the bottom line is she has never once said she was sorry for our losses. She’s never implied that she cares about how hard this is for me. She’s generally done the opposite. For example, she came to visit when I was going through miscarriage number 4. She was about 7 months pregnant. I told her how I was pretty miserable and I had just had an awful experience of bleeding so heavily I almost passed out while teaching a class full of undergrads. Her reaction was “yeah, me too, I don’t know how I’m going to make it two more months”. Just wow. Last summer when she was visiting with her 3 month old and we were talking about our situation, she said “yeah, I can’t imagine if it ever happened to E (the baby, meaning if E was infertile, not if she’d had a miscarriage with E)”. What???? In what universe is even this about your baby?? I just don’t know how to ignore all of that, and take this as a generous and sincere offer. Either way we will have to have a talk with her at some point. G left it that he appreciates the thought, but we need to let this pregnancy play out before we make any big decisions.

So, that’s been my last few days.  It certainly has been an eventful two weeks of pregnancy purgatory so far, we’ll see how the rest goes…

Fears and doubts

Today A Calm Persistence wrote a post where she talks about self-doubt, wondering if she is going to be a good mom, and if this might be why she doesn’t have a baby yet. This thought is something that’s been hiding out in the back of my mind for a long time. It’s not the kind of worry that pushes to the front and forces you to think about it often, but instead hides out where you don’t notice it, waiting to pop out at you when you’re not expecting it. It usually pops out at me when I’m already feeling insecure to begin with.

Really, there are so many things I’m unprepared for. What if I somehow manage to make it through infertility, just to find out that I’m a terrible mother? I feel like I can handle the baby years. Having a newborn sounds like a ton of work and unbelievably exhausting, but predictable. I know I’ll feel overwhelmed, and only get a few hours of sleep a night, and I’ll be excessively worried about whether I’m doing it all right. But these are all predicable struggles. It’ll be tough but do-able. What terrifies me is what comes after. Raising a child.

What if I can’t manage to discipline my kids and they run wild? What if I yell too much, or say no too much, or pass on my most terrible qualities? What if I’m too terrified of something bad happening to them that I can’t let them out of my sight? What if I’m too self-centered and can’t put my own needs behind theirs? What if there are social situations that trigger my anxiety and I fail them instead of fighting the anxiety and handling things head-on?

Some days I’m so worried about these things, and so sure that I’m not capable of it all, that I can convince myself that I’m not supposed to be a mom. That infertility is the universe’s way of saying that it isn’t meant to be. Some things just tend to work out for the best, and maybe it is actually for the best that I can’t have a baby, even though I can’t see right now. Isn’t my desire to have a child just a selfish instinct in the end? Maybe I should be thinking more of the best interests of my potential child rather than my selfish need to have a baby.

The rational part of me knows that this can’t all be true; so many people have kids and have no clue what they’re doing. They parent entirely by instinct (which may or may not be good instinct), with no intentionality or thought-process. I may have no experience yet, but I’ve spent so much time thinking about how I would parent. I’ve thought about what I would do in different types of situations, or how I would handle circumstances that come up. I’ve thought about how I would discipline them, how we would spend time together, even what foods they’d be allowed to eat or not eat. I’ve had 3 years to think about this since we started trying, but really, I’ve been thinking about these kinds of things ever since I started babysitting in middle school. I may end up being wrong about all of it, but just having put that much thought into parenting must give me some sort of head-start, right?

I know that these types of fears are normal for first time parents (or wanna-be parents in my case). But, infertility adds a particular kind of edge to the worries. We’ve spent massive amounts of time, money, and effort to end up with a child. If we finally get there and then fail, it seems like an extra special kind of failure. Not only did we fail our child, we also spent tons of time, money, and effort to have the opportunity to fail. Pretty pathetic. Plus, we have all this time to worry about the choices we’re going to make. When you decide to have a baby and get pregnant quickly, you only have so much time to freak out before it’s too late. We get endless amounts of time to worry about our potential abilities as parents before it ever becomes an issue.

At the moment, there isn’t much I can do about any of this; I’m not giving into the worries and giving up, but the thoughts will still be there hiding out and waiting for my low moments to pop back out.

 

 

 

The inlaws are coming, the inlaws are coming…..

There’s nothing like a visit from the inlaws to punctuate the tww. I ovulated on Sunday, and my mother and father in law will be arriving Friday night, so just in time for my monthly symptom spotting extravaganza. My plan is to have a sip or two of wine as soon as they get here, just to make sure they don’t start wondering if I’m pregnant. I’m on top of that already, I don’t need any help from them.

My relationship with my mother in law is complicated to say the least (father in law is super sweet, no complaints there really). If you saw us together, you’d think everything was peachy. We interact just fine in person. But under the surface is a lot of resentment on my side, and god knows what on her side.

Our relationship started out rocky from the beginning, all because of religion. G and I are both atheists, but when we first met, his mother didn’t know this about either of us. She assumed G still believed in the Catholicism he was raised in, and since I was raised Jewish, she assumed I was practicing that. When she eventually found out, she assumed that I had ‘turned’ G atheist. As if he didn’t have a mind of his own. So yeah, that was fun. We know this still really bothers her, but instead of handling it directly, both she and G will talk around it, or through his dad. Or she’ll tell the whole extended family what she wants to say to us, figuring one day it’ll get back to us. Queen of passive-aggressiveness that one.

MIL has acknowledged that I’m not all bad though. She knows I have been an extremely good influence in G’s life. When I met him, he had just gone through a bad break up, and was, let’s just say, sowing his wild oats. This was our first year of college, and he was doing drugs and drinking like crazy every weekend, and he was close to failing out of school. He was not headed in a good direction. I can’t say I’m responsible for his turning things around, he deserves all the credit himself, but I think our relationship just gave him something to hold on to, and some motivation. The last time I saw MIL, she actually told me how happy she had been at the time that G met me.

Despite MIL’s issues with me, my issues with her were pretty minimal up until I fell into the infertility hole. Despite her extreme passive-aggressiveness, and a tendency to be the most judgmental person the planet, I didn’t harbor any real negative feelings towards her. But for the last few years things have been getting worse and worse.

To describe the support we’ve gotten from her as luke-warm would be generous. She has barely said two words to us about it, despite knowing the complete and full details right from the very beginning. She might have said she was sorry after the first miscarriage, but with about as much feeling as a robot. Since then, the best she’s done is to tell us it’ll happen when it’s time. How useful, thanks! Maybe you could forward me the memo about when that time might be so I can stop wasting my energy in the meantime. The last D and C I had, she forgot I was having surgery at all, and called G while I was in surgery to tell him stories about his nephew. She never even asked what happened with that pregnancy. Basically the message we’ve gotten from her is let me know when it’s finally good news, until then, don’t bother me with it.

My resentment for her total lack of concern has been building and building over the last 3 years, but it was brought to a head this past summer. We went to visit his family for the 4th of July, right in the midst of my 2nd chemical pregnancy in as many months. I had a BFP, but I’d been having spotting on and off, and the line wasn’t getting darker day to day. I never had a chance to go in for a blood test because we left for the holiday. During the trip, I was basically in limbo, assuming my period would start any time, but still in the back of my mind wondering if it could just maybe be a real pregnancy. Eventually my period did start, a few days after we’d gotten back home.

The day we got in the car for the road trip, I got a text from his sister saying “Saturday morning we’re going to go visit M and the baby in the hospital”, referring to their cousin, who had given birth two days earlier (oh joy). No asking if we wanted to go, no outs available. How is that even remotely fair to ask of us without so much as a thought? Wonder if I have some resentment towards SIL as well?? So the weekend was starting out awesome right from the start.

Saturday morning arrived and we all piled in to the car to head to the hospital. I was in a crappy mood, but I really thought I was in control. Just another shitty day, same old same old. If I’d known how bad it was going to be, I would have made a bigger effort to get out of it. Well, the proverbial shit hit the fan as soon as we got to the hospital. I started getting a little teary-eyed as we walked in, but no biggie, still in control. We made the elevator ride up, and I was getting more jittery by the minute. Then, we stepped out of the elevator into the maternity ward and were in line to get ‘IDs’ to be allowed in to the recovery rooms. The nurse made some offhand comment about not wanting any of the babies to walk off. I have no clue what it was about this statement, or maybe it had nothing to do with that statement and it had just reached a boiling point, but at this point I proceeded to lose. my. shit.

It came over me so fast I barely had time to notice what was happening, and I immediately turned my head and shoved my face into G’s chest to cover the first sounds of the oncoming barrage of tears. He managed to call out, ‘we’re going back down to get coffee’, before I threw myself back into the (luckily still open) elevator. I didn’t turn around, but I could tell we’d gotten their attention. And by ‘their’ I mean, G’s parents, sister and her husband, multiple cousins, and some random bystanders. Even though I made it into the elevator before totally melting down, the elevator door was not moving at my speed. It stayed open for a full and agonizing 3 seconds after I starting sobbing at full volume. And I don’t mean crying, I mean gasping for breath, barely holding myself in a standing positing, sobbing. I have never lost it like this before. Honest, I don’t think I cried this hard after any of the miscarriages, at least not all at once (it was more of a gradual sadness than being overcome like that). I have no idea why it had to be that moment, but it all came out.

We made it downstairs to the lobby, and G got some coffee in me and sat me in a big comfy chair. I drank the coffee and managed to get the crying under control. But I was so completely embarrassed. We couldn’t just go back to the car and wait (no keys, plus we figured they might wait for us up there since we implied we were coming back), but my face was as blotchy and red as a face can get. Would I lose it again if we went back upstairs? How could I walk in to that room to their staring faces, looking like a blubbering fool? I should mention here that not everyone there knew about our situation (including the new mom). What the hell would they possibly think was wrong with me?

Knowing there was no getting out of it, we did eventually go upstairs, and I didn’t lose it again. We walked in to the room with all his family members standing around, preparing for someone to ask if I was okay, or at least give me some sort of reassuring look. Honestly, what I wanted was for someone to say ‘I’m so sorry we made you come here, that was really insensitive of us’. Ha, as if. No one said a damn thing. They barely glanced up when we walked in. When I sat down in a chair as far from the baby as possible, MIL looked over at me with this shit-eating grin and said, “Isn’t she just the cutest!! Look at those little toes!”.

As the day wore on, we kept thinking that SURELY someone would say something eventually. Maybe they just didn’t want to say something in front of the whole family, maybe they wanted to wait for a more appropriate moment to give us some sort of support. Ha. Not a single person ever showed even the smallest sign of concern. We thought, is it possible they didn’t actually notice? No, there was no not noticing, and G remembers seeing them watch us get in to the elevator.

I have no words for how angry and hurt it makes me that no one could be bothered to give me so much as a pat on the shoulder after so public a display. It’s as if someone fell down the stairs in front of you and you didn’t even bother to go check to make sure they were okay. I mean, who ignores someone in that much pain right in their face?? They can’t pretend that I’m fine and none of this is bothering me that much, they’ve seen it. I am just so freaking angry and resentful that they carry on with their lives as if nothing has happened, and my pain doesn’t matter in the least. I’m not the only one bothered by this either, G is really hurt by it as well. But he was raised by the reigning queen of passive-aggressive land, so how do you think he’s handling it?

What gets me the most is MIL should know better. She had two miscarriages before she had SIL. I mean, she’s been through this for godssakes, how can she act like its nothing?? The only explanation I can come up with is that she feels like she got through it, so I should be able to too. Maybe she just thinks I’m being a giant baby and should get the hell over it like she did. I don’t know, but I don’t relish the thought of spending a weekend with someone who feels this way.

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.