Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Fun for the whole family


Family.

Interesting topic. Six letters, one very powerful word. So much capacity for wonderful things - and for drama, drama, drama.

There's that old saying about how you can't pick your family. If we're going to be entirely literal then yes - we get who we get at birth and that's that. But I also believe that we can bend the definition of family to include a whole host of people in our lives with whom we share not blood, but a commonality of spirit. A similar purpose, a shared history; however you want to describe it, if you're lucky, there are those non-blood related folk in your life who round out and enlarge your family circle.

And can I just say, thank *insert your personal deity of choice here* for those folk. 'Cause my own family, those blood people who've been right there as a fixture in my life since that first spank on the ass, just don't know what to say to me these days.

I know I've mentioned here before about the challenges I'm having with my mom and my sister through all this infertility stuff. The quick and dirty version of the story is that they simply can't relate, can't even begin to understand where it is I'm coming from in this incredibly hard period of my life. And it's not their fault, truly. They've never been there. Never had trouble conceiving. So they can't know. And I can't be upset with them for that. I won't.

But...

I don't need them to know what it's like for me. Fortunately, I have other members of my extended 'family', many of you included, who know exactly what it's like to be me right now. Still others of you have flat out told me you don't have a clue, but you're rooting for me and are sending me all the positive vibes and truckloads of support along the way.

A great portion of you who fall into the latter category don't even know me in person. Some of you don't even know my real name...and yet, you still seem to know the right thing to say, the sentiments I most need to hear.

This boggles my mind. I don't know - I guess my family is so close to the situation that they can't pull themselves out and be objective. Instead, they either pull away completely, thinking that I don't want to be around them at all (sister) or tell me it's time to go and get some counseling because depression runs in the family you know (mother), and I'm just so sad. That's not like me.

No mom, you're right. It's not like me. But I'm also going through one of the most emotionally challenging experiences of my entire life, and even better, it's cyclical, so I get to live it over and over again, month after month. With no promise of a resolution, no guarantees whatsoever. So yeah, it's hard.

But the solution does not lie exclusively in counseling for me. In my head anyway, I'd be much further ahead if I could find some way to show them, make them see how their actions and reactions don't do all that much to help me along, despite their very best intentions. Crib bedding shopping expedition: exhibit A your honour.

But I can't do that. So instead, I finally tonight had a bit more of a heart to heart chat with my mom. I tell her I'm starting to feel quite marginalized from the family. That I don't rate as much as I once did. She of course reassures me that that's not what she's trying to do and again, I believe her. As I've said earlier, I honestly don't believe there's any malice or ill will behind any of their actions.

But they still don't get it. My mom, for example, backs up my sister's position. Tells me that she feels like she's lost her best friend because she can't talk to me about this pregnancy, that I don't even want to be around her when she's pregnant. Mom says that even thought it's hard for me to see, shouldn't I be happy for her, my sister, someone I love?

And there's the rub. OF COURSE I'm happy for my sister. She's my sister, for pete's sake. I didn't turn into some heartless bitch overnight that ditches her family because she can't take it. No, I do my best to be supportive and ask questions when I'm emotionally strong enough to do so. Which I'll admit isn't every day, but it does happen. It just gets hard when there is nothing but reminders in what she says and where we go.

Of course I'm happy for her. She's carrying my niece. My niece - the little baby girl that is soon to be the recipient of some very cute pink onesies from Tommy Hilfiger, and a keepsake Villeroy and Boch bowl and spoon set. That's the baby that I want to celebrate and shop for, spoil rotten, all those good things. That's the side of me that struggles with the alter ego, the flip side of this terrible infertility coin - self-preservation.

It's so not personal, and that's the thing. She thinks it is. She thinks it's her, but she can't see that in reality, the difficulty I have with so much of this takes her as my sister completely out of the equation. It's not just her - truly, it's all pregnant women right now. Yes, I have a hard time seeing those beautiful bellies, not knowing if I'll ever look that way. And I don't give a rip who the belly belongs to - seeing one causes me actual visceral pain. And that sucks.

Now imagine that you see this belly, experience this pain, and it's at every family gathering, right there, all the time. It has nothing to do with her per se - it's just the reality of the situation. And it's so hard to make her see that.

It doesn't help when she offered to have me over for dinner when Hubs was away and I got my bad news. I was quite honest with her that I simply couldn't be around a pregnant person at that moment. Full on truth. Ugly, but real. And now, she thinks that's how I feel all the time, that I don't want to see her or have to look at her because she's the visual personification of everything that I want, but thus far, can't manage to have.

So I'm in constant battle with myself - do I risk hurting my sister, or do I protect my already fragile emotional state? What a terrible tightrope to walk in life.

So much about this infertility ride sucks huge ass. The drugs, the cost, the ups and downs, the tears, the crazy mood swings, the headaches, the hot flashes. All of it - crap. But worth it a thousand times over if we do manage to achieve our desired outcome of a healthy baby boy or girl.

It's the collateral damage that I'm worried about in the long run. How do I mend fences here, and is it truly my sole responsibility to do so? What if we never get pregnant - how hard is it going to be for me when that child is actually born? Will my relationship with my sister and mother ever be the same?

So many casualties in this war against my body. My hope is that at the end of this, however that end may be arrived at, all of my family members return home safely, in one piece. Still talking to each other.

In the interim, I hope for the best and think I've finally made some headway with my mom. She said that we need to work on things, the three of us, so we can get back to 'us three' the way we used to be. I'd love nothing more, really. And I sincerely hope we can make it work.

Until then, allow me this opportunity to once again thank you, the other members of my extended family, for sticking by me with words of support and encouragement. It helps more than you will ever know, and right now, I'll take all the (non-counseling) help I can get.

And that's your daily dash. How's your diva doin'?

8 comments on "Fun for the whole family"

celtic_kitten on 20 September 2007 at 08:12 said...

*hug*

Anonymous said...

Okay, your last post made me mad for you; this one made me sad. Your pain is so real and so fresh right now (and each cycle...as you mentioned).

I'm sending you big, humungous virtual hugs because in some situations, that's the only thing that can help. I hope you get your family back together in a way that works for everyone.

Hugs, hugs, hugs,
from wayoutwest.

Anonymous said...

I'll class myself as the "don't know what you're going through but want to support you anyway" kind of non-related family.
I am in awe of your positive outlook and your strength to deal with this situation. You are stronger than you give yourself credit for and you are so smart to know that being with your sister will cause you pain, and I think you are stronger and more self-aware than anyone I know.
I'm putting another truck on the road, loaded to the roof with love and support and best wishes as you follow this road wherever it is headed.
You should be proud of the way you face the world! Keep it up

Anonymous said...

Big hugs! This post made me sad too. Perhaps you should let your mother & sister read this post? I think the honesty would maybe help them understand a little better, help them understand the push & pull you feel.

~ Ginelle

Kris on 20 September 2007 at 17:43 said...

Thanks for writing this. As someone who can't say she has any idea what you're going through at all - I can tell you that it's sometimes hard for the person on the other side as well. I have a good friend who is going through something similar to you, and your post helped me see things from her side a little better. I really appreciate you sharing it with us.
Having said that - can you tell me HOW I should deal with the situation. What can I/can't I say? Should I just leave my personal info out all together? I really don't know and sometimes struggle around her at times. Any advice?
Kris O.
xoxo

divajen on 20 September 2007 at 19:44 said...

Kris: You ask an important question, and a hard one too! My advice, based on how I want my friends to treat me.

Tell her you can't even begin to understand what she's going through, but you care about her and want to be there for her any way you can. That you'll be there for her any way she needs you to be and that you won't take it personally if sometimes, she just needs some space. Encourage her to tell you when she's feeling that way and to never feel bad about it. And tell her you'll be there as a shoulder to cry on whenever she needs one, and you'll celebrate like crazy with her when her time comes.

Don't tell her she needs to relax and it will happen. Don't tell her you understand what she's going through. Don't tell her anything about how long it took you to get pregnant or volunteer anything about your pregnancy unless she asks for it. Don't tell her the universe will give her a baby when the time is right or that god never gives you more than you can handle. Those are some of my personal faves :).

Bottom line - just be there for her as best you can and remember - it's rarely personal.

Thanks for asking!!

Janny said...

I was just thinking of you, here at work. I had to make a recording of a TV Special on In Vitro Fertilization and the WHOLE time I was thinking of you and your hubs. Seeing and hearing what these women were going through was so helpfull I found, not in completely understanding the situation, but in a way, seeing how it can affect them... It's really hard to explain though. And one of the guys was saying how much harder it can be for the guys, cause they are there to support their wife and it's logical, cause it's happening to/inside her, but he felt really sad and left out in a way! So, give a BIG hugs to your hubby for me! :) And a big thanks for taking care of you.
As for you sister and mom, I agree with a PP who said you should let them read this (or maybe use this in a letter to your sister) to help them understand... You probably could get through to them even jsut a little bit, which could help, especially for your sister to know you are not mad 'at her'.

Anywho, big hugs to you too darling Diva! :)

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry you're going thru such a rough time right now - that's a tough situation to be in with family. HUGS, grimeysgal

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