A blog about babies: the babies I lost, the babies I never had, the baby who made me a Mama.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Family Affairs; or, They Named the Baby

I spent most of my therapy session this afternoon discussing Lawyer Guy's strange family dynamics (though all in-laws' families are strange, right?) as I have laid them out with more brevity here and here and here. So fortunately for you, I've burned through much of the anger I was feeling yesterday. But at that babynaming, no question: I was pissed.

I was pissed at the situation: AF's early arrival the day before, the beginning of cycle 8/15, trying to schedule an HSG, wondering if my husband's sperm is okay, wondering if we'll ever be pregnant or how much it will take to get pregnant with a baby that sticks. I was pissed about what could have been, mad that the 4-month-old I could have been cuddling is instead a product of human conception in a lab. I was so freaking angry that I--a woman who has always loved children and dreamed of being a mom--was the ONLY childless woman between the ages of 20 and 40 out of the 120+ people at this event (let's not even speak of how many of them were pregnant (I counted at least six)). I was angry at myself for feeling obligated to be there. Angry I had to make small-talk when all I wanted to do was sulk. Angry it was happening in the first place. And angry that the freaking country club reception hall was decorated like this:

You see, it's casual, low-key, and cost-conscious because the centerpieces are elaborate balloon displays rather than flowers. Get it?

So my brother-in-law said hello and nothing more to me the whole time and my sister-in-law barely even did that--she had to run off and get the baby in her dress and put a freaking tiara on her head as soon as they arrived. No time for greeting your ONLY siblings-in-law who came all the way from Brooklyn for your God-awful travesty of a life-cycle celebration, no of course not.

(Okay, maybe I didn't burn off all that anger after all).

I get that they were busy hosting this event. I get that they had a lot of people to entertain. I didn't want them to sit down and take my hand and stare intently into my eyes while asking, "How are you?" I wouldn't have liked that at all, nor for them to pry into how our family building is going.

But it would have been nice if--instead of calling me three months ago to nail down a date when we'd be available because we are "so important to them and it's so important that [we] be there"--my SIL had let me know that it was okay with them if I decided I wasn't up for coming. It would have been nice to receive SOME acknowledgment of the fact that this is freaking hard for us--of the fact that we have been going through hell the last year (well, longer than that, but a year as far as they know). Just a hug, or a friendly and warm look in the eye, or the words "We're so glad you guys are here." That's it. No medals of honor necessary. Just some basic human connection.

Too much to ask, apparently.

And then, during the little ceremony, when the rabbi called Lawyer Guy and all the grandparents up to the podium to read some blessings and I was left sitting all alone at my table and my father-in-law gestured to me to take pictures of them all with his camera (which I actually did for a little while), I finally decided I'd had enough and I hated the world and I left and went to the bathroom where I acknowledged that what I really wanted to do was kick something hard but, nothing kickable being on hand, would have to content myself with a halfhearted and unsatisfying cry in a toilet stall.

And then we ate brunch.

My mother-in-law called later that night to ask how I was doing, because she could tell I was not myself at the party (and she knows that we've started meeting with REs, though she doesn't know all the details of what's going on). I told her it's been a hard couple of weeks and that I've been really sad and she said I seemed more angry than sad at the party. So, yeah, I told her the above--that I'm mad at the world and my life and my body and the party and BIL and SIL--mostly them--right now for not even seeming to REALIZE that we've been in agony for what feels like thirty years.

So apparently my sister-in-law occasionally asks my mother-in-law how I'm doing and how the whole baby-making thing is going. Which my MIL took as evidence that in her own (limited) way she does care. She doesn't care enough to say or do or feel anything, but she cares enough to periodically wonder about us.

(I recognize this isn't fair of me. I'm not in a very fair mood these days).

Ultimately, is that worse? Is it more insulting of them to have just totally forgotten that we ever were pregnant and to not realize that we might be hurting, or is it worse to remember and to recognize that we're in pain but to be too chicken-shit to throw us a scrap of human compassion on a day that anyone with three-eighths of a brain could guess might be a struggle (let alone the other 364 days of the year)?

And then I feel so guilty about it all. Guilty for pinning my impotent anger at a fucked-up situation on two people who aren't responsible for it. Guilty for feeling such jealousy and rage over what they have (those two beautiful little girls I can barely stand to look at any more) when they have never taken anything from me.

I sent my sister-in-law a text last night. It reads (and I quote): "Beautiful party! Glad to be there. Hope to see you all again when we can chat more. I have something for [Niece #2] but didn't want to bring today."

No response yet, and really that's beside the point, right? I did for myself, so I could feel less like a heartless sucky shrew and more like the decent, caring, reasonable person I so desperately want to be. But I'm the real chicken-shit here, pasting over a deep well of anger and hurt with some crappy, barely felt fakery designed to put a bright face on it all.

And yet...what else could I do?

Last night, my dad told me I had three options for dealing with them in the future:

1. Have it out with them over what I need and expect (impossible because a) they never respond well to conversations like that and b) I have no energy for any additional stress right now).

2. Continue to hope that they'll treat me decently and continue to be disappointed.

3. Follow my dear, late grandmother's advice and interact with them knowing that it will be unsatisfying but "offering it up for the poor souls in purgatory."

I guess my frustration with liminal states is more familial than I guessed.

I'm more venting than looking for solutions right now. I realize there isn't anything to be done. They will continue to be self-absorbed and unable to reach out to us, I will continue to suffer and resent them for standing outside my suffering. Just your usual warm happy family. If I can avoid them as much as possible until we finally get pregnant again, I'll be okay... but the longer this takes, the less likely that becomes.


  1. Ugh. I'm so sorry. That party sounded dreadful for you. And I speak from experience when I say that people who don't have or have never had issues getting pregnant JUST.DON'T.GET.IT. They're not capable of understanding how hurtful things that they say can be. It's not in their realm of thinking to realize that the agony of a loss doesn't go away and that being the only childless people in a room full of shamlessly fertile people is kinda like hell on earth.

    You've done more than enough to show support for your niece. It'd be nice if your SIL/BIL would show some support to you in your situation.

  2. Ugh, that sucks so badly. :( I can't imagine what it's like to have in-laws who just don't care about your pain like that. Know that there are many of us out there who DO care about your pain, and we'll be here for you as much as possible. Hang in there.... ((HUGS))

  3. First of all, the decorations themselves are enough to make me want to scratch off all my skin and run down the street naked, raw and bloody!

    It sounds awful. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. But, basically you could just show that picture, and I think anyone who saw that would immediately understand that you are dealing with the kind of people who are, apparently, comfortable at the gates of hell themselves. No wonder they lack compassion-- if taste and compassion are at all related (and I think they are. LouEllen has both, these people have neither. There are 2 data points for you!)

    But seriously, I am mad that you have to deal with any of this, at all.

  4. Just wanted to say that...you're right. No matter how bizarre we know our families are, our in-laws are always stranger. For example, N's mother more or less hasn't spoken to us since Thanksgiving 2007. Can you imagine? Anyway...what you're going through sucksucksucks, and I'm so sorry you're not feeling reached-out to. Not getting what we need feels downright rotten. Sending hugs.


  5. You are a saint for going through with that and lasting as long as you did before breaking down in the bathroom. Believe me when I say that I understand. Three months after we started TTC, my BIL and SIL got pregnant with the first grandchild - a boy. It's been hell for me ever since. I don't want it to be hell, but it just is. You can't help it. It's painful to watch someone's belly grow, give birth, etc. etc. while you are supposed to be pregnant. It's even more painful when they are in your family. And it fucking sucks royally when they don't care enough to ask you how you're done. Mine don't, that's for sure.

    I wish there was a piece of advice I could give you. I wish I could tell you that it gets better. It doesn't. All I can say is that I get it. I get the anger and frustration. And I wish you didn't have to experience it, too.


  6. Gaaaaaaaaaaaaah. I mean, seriously. Your SIL completely and totally sucks for being so insensitive and—honestly?—ruthless in her dismissive and totally insensitive behavior in general, but especially that night. It hurt my hear this recap. (((hugs)))

    The only upside I see in all of this is that you have some seriously awesome people in your life who love you so much. Your MIL, who called to check on you and who you felt comfortable enough to share your pain with. Your father, who knows you like a book. And LG, your rock and best ally. I'm thinking of you, Slopie. xo

  7. I think actually you do deserve a medal for even showing up. To be honest, I would probably have said I would go and then come down with a migraine the day of (it really would have hit me from the stress of having to go to something like this, but still) and bailed. That's happened with a couple of baby showers since we started trying. Also, I think it really sucks that they didn't have you up there with your husband and the rest of the family. You're as much a part of the family as the rest of them! I hate when my in-laws pull crap like that. I too have poured way too much effort into relationships with my difficult in-laws and generally get slapped down in return. I'm trying to just stop caring, but like you, can't seem to manage it. I'm really sorry you had to cope with such a horrid family event. I'm sorry that your in-laws put you thru that and didn't show you the kindness and understanding you deserve. Heck, I'm sorry you're going through any of this. I totally get the anger and sadness and frustration. Those are all perfectly natural and legitimate ways to feel in such a tough situation. Hugs to you!

  8. I, too, am impressed at your strength and selflessness in being able to actually attend such an event. I don't know that I would be capable of it, especially given the cavalier attitude that your siblings-in-law have chosen to take. I say you take the high road but with a nod to self-preservation. It's important to do what you feel is right - both right for you and right in terms of what you want to do. (Not sure if I'm making sense... it's early...) Anyway, I hope that with your moving forward with the RE you'll discover that you don't have to avoid them for long at all!

  9. i only wish you had offered to be the official photographer for the event, and then handed them 600 pictures of people's feet only. that would have made my day for sure :o)

    your BIL and SIL suck. taht's just all there is to it. you're sooo important to them, that they had no time to talk to you at the party (btw, i've NEVER heard of a baby naming party ... this i find completely strange and gratuitous) and is enough to piss off any of us. they obviously don't have an ounce of empathy or understanding about your situation. bc if they did, you would've gotten a phone call prior to the event letting you know that they'd understand if you couldn't make it.

    all i can say is "karma's a b*tch" and your dad's advice on how to deal with them is spot on. when they run in to conflict later in life, they'll probably fumble, not know how to deal, and then expect help or empathy from you guys. which i'm sure YOU GUYS are fully capable of giving. they're obviously not worthy of an ounce of your time or your anger, so don't give them the satisfaction (yeah i know, easier said than done).

    btw, i've never met your doc, but can obviously figure out which one she is based on your description. i've never met her, but i've heard really great things about her. you're in awesome awesome hands!!!!!!!!!! and you will be mightily impressed by how efficiently well run that place is. they are *on* it.

  10. Totally sucks. I think you're doing a good job of dealing with it all. I think I'd go with acting fine and screaming when I was away from them in that situation, too. It totally doesn't help the situation, but it makes me feel better sometimes. :)

    I've been in a similar situation with my SIL and BIL who were the only ones of my DH's family who knew we were pregnant and, other than telling my DH over the phone to tell me they were sorry, have never acknowledged the loss. Never even a sad smile the first time they saw me at their younger son's first birthday 6 weeks after the loss. Just a request (four weeks previously) for me to babysit their kids the night after the party (yeah, uh, no). I just have had to chalk it up to not understanding and being a little self-involved and just ignore it and bitch about it on the web. ;)

  11. Ugh, this sounds terrible even for someone who isn't trying to get pregnant. And yes, in-law-families are strange (or maybe we just gotten used to ours over time). I'm sorry you have to deal with all this.

  12. That party sounds like it was pure torture. And your BIL and SIL sound exactly like my sister and BIL. When my sister offered me ZERO support after my miscarriage (after 2 years of ZERO infertility support), I finally gave up on having a meaningful relationship with her. I never thought of offering our interactions up for the poor souls in purgatory though, that's an idea! ;)

  13. That sounds really awful. You are very brave to endure such an event, especially with insensitive SIL. I think some people are natural "avoiders" and pretend sadness just doesn't exist by ignoring others' pain.
    I am so hopeful that soon you will be seeing much happier times with your sweet LG. Hang in there.

  14. I don't think saying "We're so happy you guys are here" or giving a well meaning hug before rushing off to deal with the other guests would have been too hard for him/her to do.

    But I wonder if they don't know how to act around you guys, if they don't want to step on toes or bring something up that you may not wish to discuss.

    Her never having to go through it - this is new ground for her. It may be she's totally selfish and so absorbed in her own family she actually is a total shrew and not worth your time.

    I don't have any advice, just comfort and hugs. I hope you're doing better today and have the support you need from those who are important to you.

  15. I can really relate to this, babe. My own sister-in-law does the same type of stuff. She'll insist we come to her little one's birthday parties, etc and make a big deal of telling us that we "need to make her daughter a cousin," all the while KNOWING we had a miscarriage. It's ridiculous how dense some people can be. I get that we shouldn't expect the world to walk on its tiptoes around us and I don't want that. I'd just like a little compassion from my own family members.... too much to ask? I guess it is for both of ours.
    Sorry you had to go through that.

  16. Such a horrible party, situation, all of it. I'm so sorry you have to deal with your insensitive ILs. Your SIL and BIL sound so similar to mine - they're 100% aware that we're going through hell but don't have the decency to actually treat us with any respect or common decency about the situation. They would rather ignore it completely.

    I know they're never going to improve - all I can hope is that the situation will change (you get pregnant!!) and some of the pain will disappear. Though I know their callousness will never be forgotten.

  17. Just a horrible situation. I would encourage you to rock the boat a little and step on the toes of those that stomp on you. For, they will only keep stomping unless you tell them to stop. My husband's cousin recently made three comments at a family function: "any news on baby #2?" "you know, your son is starting to show signs of only-child syndrome [spoiled], you need to have another child" and "you really need to work on baby #2." I told her that there was no guarantee that we could have baby #2 and I don't want her to ask me about it ever again and that when I am ready I will tell her if/when I am pregnant, but that it is a very difficult topic and I'd appreciate it if she could be more sensitive. People are insensitive. You can either grow a thick heart and let them stomp on you or fight back...which, as a person that hates conflict, is difficult, but it is better than the alternative. This is so freaking hard, but you have to protect yourself!!