Friday, January 20, 2012

A Dreaded Talk

Today I will have a dreaded talk with my MIL (mother-in-law).

Let me back up. About two weeks ago, I received a text from MIL in regards to my oldest SIL (sister-in-law)'s baby shower.

This is not the type of pregnancy a Catholic woman would want to celebrate under normal conditions. Add to it the incessant pain of infertility and childlessness, and it becomes the last place on earth that Catholic woman would want to be.

So, when I received the text message, I already knew in my heart that this shower would be approaching and that my personal decision was to try to go, as long as on that day, I felt up to going. I am not looking for a way out. I could come up with a million excuses, not to mention, I may in fact have to work that day... this is not the point. I don't need an "out." I need understanding.

But I am far from having it.

The text at first glance appeared to be loving and considerate. It asked for days in late January and through February when I would be away, so that when they set the date for the shower, I could be there. I'm sure I was reading a bit too much into it, but when I thought about it more... I got a little angry. You see, when it comes to an infertile family member, what is REAL consideration? Asking them for dates when they will be around, so that when you have a baby shower, they will have no excuse not to be there??

This MIL is the one who read an entire book on Infertility (a gift from her sister for her birthday last year) and passed it along to me afterwards, telling me she understood so much better now what we were going through.

But does she?

I responded simply for her not to plan the party date around me, and that while I would certainly try to attend, I never know on any given weekend if I will be working until the day before (the truth). She left the matter alone.

But then my other SIL began texting, asking if such-and-such date worked for me, and if I received the invitation on email, etc. etc. I ignored those texts when I realized I first have to speak with my MIL.

I've realized, as I spoke to my Mom on the phone a couple weeks ago, that I do not let ANYONE see how infertility affects me. I write about it here, yes. I don't hold anything back when it comes to by blog. But the beauty of a blog is that it is anonymous. Oh, I don't mean that no one knows who I "really" am, because at this point, I think most of my readers have seen me, met me, and know me in real life. What I mean is that I am writing my emotions here... I am not showing them in the flesh. And maybe it's the Choleric in me that feels it is a weakness to show my emotions to the outside world, really show them. Rationally, I also understand that I cannot truly FEEL how I feel physically and simultaneously function from day to day at my job, at my home, and anywhere else.

This is the face I show to the world. I do not break down and cry with my infertility Creighton Model clients. I do not break down and cry during an ultrasound when the patient's ovulation was less-than-ideal. I do not break down and cry when a couple believes they are pregnant after years and years of trying, only to find out the labs show otherwise.

But while I stay strong outwardly, I am dying inwardly.

I think I have made such a resolve to staying strong (again, for self-preservation) that no one, my own mother included, is aware of how much pain I am in.

And now getting back to my MIL and the dreaded talk.

I've come to the conclusion that, no matter what happens with the shower (if I go, if I leave early, if I cannot go)... MIL needs to be "let in" to see how infertility actually affects me.

Let me tell you... I am TRULY not looking forward to this, but I know I have to do it.

Generally when I speak about infertility, even my own, I do it very matter-of-factly. "Each month that I get my period is like a miscarriage of hope, faith, and peace. I mourn the loss of what might have been my child, had God only granted the desires of my heart... but I also mourn the loss of heaven because I begin to doubt that I will ever get there knowing I wouldn't even be a mommy there."

I could say those words to any size group of people, and educate them about what infertility feels like. I would do it stoically, and at the end of the day, audience members may even wonder if I myself am infertile or if I'm just the "spokeswoman" for infertility.

But this afternoon... will not be that kind of talk.

I will need to feel the words I say. I will need to speak from my heart, not my head. It will be the same words, but a totally different conversation.

I'd better bring some tissues.


Rebecca said...

Oh you are in my prayers. I usually fall right on the line between choleric and melancholic and so I totally get what you are saying about being able to talk about that which causes the most pain without a tear. I've often wondered what other people think when they hear me talk about it so matter of factly...if they think I have no heart.
I can't imagine having the conversation you are going to have, I can't imagine having to sit in front of someone and allow my emotions to do the talking.
You are in my prayers in a big way today and if there is anything I can do from far away, please let me know.

Sunshine said...

Dear TCIE,

I realize I am not you and you are not me but I will say that it helped me enormously to cry with my MIL about our IF and losses. It kind of cleared the air. I hope it won't be so hard and that you can find some understanding and empathy, something we all need and I hope your MIL gives you.
We will all be praying for you as you take this important step.

imusthaveprayedforpatience said...

Praying for you. I know this will be hard. I always cry when talking about IF, so I usually try to steer the conversation to the weather or shopping.

By the way, who has a shower for a third child? I thought people only get one shower. She's getting a third?

Amy @ This Cross I Embrace said...

It's out 3rd niece. It's her first.

Hebrews 11:1 said...

I will be thinking of you and praying for you this afternoon. I hope it goes well and that she is understanding, and that it opens her eyes. Laying bare your heart is a tremendously hard thing to do, and you are so brave for doing it. You are, have always been, and will always be, an enormous inspiration to me.

Little JoAnn said...

I am sorry but this makes me mad at your MIL! Doesn't she get it by now???

But, I am just probably projecting...I am mad at my own MIL who said to be once, "Oh, was it so hard on you when you have my son?"


Say it from your heart and your gut!!!!

Leave nothing out!!!

Anonymous said...

you can't stop living because of infertility.... don't let this ruin life for everyone else. This baby is a gift for god, it deserves to be celebrated regardless of the circumstances of conception. Don't look at your empty womb as a negative, perhaps this baby's birth is God's way, and perhaps God wants you to empower this child like your own. Think outside your understandings.

C.C. (aka Crunchy Catholic Mama) said...

TCIE - I'm praying for you today.

Dear Anonymous - You clearly didn't understand the post. Run along now and be insensitive somewhere else.

All in His Perfect Timing said...

Ugh, MIL's. I think its so brave of you to talk voluntarily to your MIL today. I never try and talk to mine about IF, but sometimes the conversation goes that way anyway.
Like Sunshine, I broke down & cried in front of my in-laws about how much it hurt me to not be a mom, about infertility, etc. I think it made a difference (a tiny one) for them to see me break down just how much it hurt. I know its hard to show emotion ... I am usually not that way either.
I will be praying for you this afternoon that your MIL will be sensitive to you about IF in the future, and not oblivious.

Regarding Anonymous' nasty comment ... go away and don't come back. If you don't have the balls to sign your own name, don't bother to comment.

Amy @ This Cross I Embrace said...

Trust me, anonymous, my suffering inwardly where no one can see it is not "ruining life for everyone else." Likewise, my allowing my MIL to understand my emotions will not ruin her life. But in case it does, I'll be sure to come back and let you know you were right. Don't hold your breath.

Furthermore... a baby, no matter how conceived, SHOULD be celebrated. I have continually gone to visit friends' babies when they are born (not ruining their lives by my absence, which would surely ruin anyone's). A baby shower is about showering the mother and celebrating the PREGNANCY. The baby cannot even enjoy its own shower, so it's not about the baby.

airing the chapel said...

I really appreciate the eloquence of your post. I'm very sorry this situation is causing you further pain and frustration. We split for Mother's Day weekend last year and it was tricky. My sister was going to AZ and told me I should be there "since it would be good for me and her." Hmmm. I was very upset. Despite my father trying to set up a brunch date, I visited my mother and said we would not be there for a Sunday celebration but would honor her in another way. I think we brought flowers on Friday night and some dessert.

It made the situation much better for me although not perfect since Mother's Day and the motions we all have to go through is very, very painful. I've been honest with my MIL and my own family about how painful infertility is. I think saying that and leaving it at that helps me keep some privacy but also communicates how hard baby events can be.

Faith makes things possible said...

Great response to Annoynomous' not so understanding comment!

Praying for you that the talk goes well!!

Anonymous said...

I hate when the guest of honor gets into the planning of her own shower.

Good for you for having a talk with your MIL. I know, life is so unfair at times, and I would be in pain too. Somewhere there is a medium between celebrating a new baby and honoring your own pain. But right now, tending to your pain is necessary.


Ania said...

Praying the talk goes well and that your MIL's heart may not be hard. I understand the self preservation, I work with preemie infants and newborns. It's hard when we know how we have to be (professional etc.), but it's so much more difficult to be so when othes don't now how to be for us.

barbie said...

Anon clearly doesn't get it and your response was perfect.

That being said I will go a step further and say from my personal experiences that those showers for such pregnancies as your SIL's tend to be the ones where you are DEMANDED to attend. I have had the same thing in my family, the pregnancies that were under "normal" married healthy circumstances were no big deal if I couldn't make it but those in scandal as it were, it was just unreal that I wouldn't attend! I think those involved want us to attend to make themselves feel better, like us showing means no foul. I personally don't go to such showers on principle since it is not something to celebrate as you said. But that's me.

I'm sorry your MIL is so difficult. I like you hid my pain from everyone. To the point that they would even joke about our lack of children....thinking I was ok with it. I've been called hard and the like simply because I never broke down, how crazy is that? I can't even imagine having to have the talk you are having today. I'm praying for you. I know how hard this must be. You are very strong TCIE and this, though hard on you will hopefully be a teaching moment for your MIL.

Love to you.

Anonymous said...

Lurker of about two years here. First time ever posting.

Well, I was born "in scandal," as was phrased above. From a situation not too very different from TCIE's SIL. Obviously not by my own fault, of course. The sins of the parents should *never* taint one's view of the child. And my life since then has been much squeakier clean ;) ... never used birth control, virgin until marriage, happily married, am infertile, and we adopted our daughter. Anyway, that's where I'm coming from. But yes, my mother's pregnancy was "in scandal."

Being pretty darn close to that unborn child's position, I will say that certain comments above do sting. A lot, believe it or not. But I would also say that the earlier anonymous did make another very good point --- perhaps TCIE is to be a guide for this child. Being born in scandal does not dictate the rest of one's life. No matter what the conditions of one's birth, the child needs people to guide them as you grow. TCIE is obviously well within that circle.

JellyBelly said...

I wish that I could've been as courageous as you were today. In the past I've made up lies to miss baby showers (and yes, I was more than happy to be leaving for Omaha for the latest one).

I think that this will be a beautiful moment in your relationship with your MIL.

You are my hero.

Anonymous said...

Hope the afternoon went well and that you could talk with your MIL '"with the heart and not with the head".

Sew said...

1st Anonymous-Maybe God is asking you to step outside your understanding and be compassionate towards TCIE as she struggles.

Jenny said...

Hope it went as well as it could. :(

Suzie-Q T-Pie said...

Well, I hope things went ok! I said a quick prayer for you. And at this point after 20 comments, I'm not sure mine means much, but I have come to realize that what we may think that people are being insensitive to the IF in us, they really believe that they are helping you by trying to include you in things such as baby showers. They think they understand, but really what they are doing is overcompensating for their feelings of inadequecy. They don't know how to act, and in trying to be kind and not wanting to exclude you from things, they don't realize that it makes things almost worse for the IFer.
I hope everything works out with the MIL.
Peace and Prayers to you :)

the misfit said...

That conversation is on what I think of as a short list of infertility-related things I just cannot do. I can even write emails telling people how upset I am. Talking about it in person doesn't really happen much. I have a VERY few friends who have truly loving hearts who can hear the scientific explanation of how it's hard to go through this, and see that there's a human experience behind that and be sorry. But that's their insight, not my communication, that enables that.

You are a brave lady, and I hope that your conversation will bear fruit. You will be in my thoughts and prayers this afternoon - as I skip the baby shower of my former closest childless friend. I would say - if this helps, and God knows I am in no place to give advice here - I wouldn't say a word about her daughter's situation, just about yours (given what you've described of your in-laws), and I find that the words "I just need space" seem to bear an intelligible message to people today when little else would. At least, they've helped me a few times.


Donna said...

I hope the talk with your MIL went well. You were in my prayers.

I'm almost envious of you having that conversation. My MIL is of the ilk of just suck it up and bear it. She doesn't mean to be hurtful, but I'm not sure she "gets" it. Some things you just can't bear.

Nicole C said...

Dying to know how it went. Hope you're in one piece today.

silverbeetle said...

Hope yesterday's conversation wasn't yet another exercise in frustration / futility. As articulate as you are, I imagine the emotion of it all was hard to push through. Know that I continue to pray for you.