Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Self-Preservation **Updated**

Julia had an interesting response to my post about my seeing my sister hugely pregnant. I started to comment but (for a change) it just got too long, so here it is. I think it's helpful for me to sort this out, too.

She says:
shouldn't it be your decision to see or not see your sister? Is she trying to protect you or is she trying to not make it awkward for herself? Or did you tell her previously that it would be hard for you to see her pregnant? Even if that's the case, it should still be your decision. If you want to go, you should go, and she needs to do what will make you least unhappy.

It's really interesting that you pose this question, as my sister (being the oldest) generally handed down her "opinions" as direction. If that makes sense. I was easily guided and just followed along. Things have changed, though I am in a vulnerable state these days.

When she first got pg (with twins), we were able to talk about this stuff (it amazes me how much), and I told her that as things progressed it would be harder and harder for me. Especially seeing her. At the time of the bridal shower, she will be about 10 days beyond where I was when I delivered, likely looking hugely, gloriously pregnant. I believe, given our early conversations, that she thought it would be upsetting for me.

I was smallish my whole pregnancy (even though I showed at 12 or 13 weeks), even with twins, because I was sick the entire time. I gained no weight. I lost it, in fact. My sister, after 5 years of infertility, has not been sick once during this pregnancy. Not once. And she has said that she is constantly ravenous. I expect that she is showing, and plenty. Probably glowing.

The shower would also be the first time I see my extended family (only the immediate were here for the delivery). She will be carrying what is (now) expected to be the first (living) grandchildren, particularly poignant, as my grandmother is still alive and my mother (her daughter) died seven years ago. TONS of family weirdness. How do they be happy for her and sensitive to me at the same time? I'd say that's got to be impossible.

The bride's family will completely ignore the fact of my dead children. I have yet to hear from her since we lost them. (Talked to her once through my brother's phone when he was here before the delivery.) The bride's sister will bring her 3 or 4 year old, and who knows who else will be pg. We are not enthused about this match, if you couldn't tell.

At the engagement party, my sister and I got each other through. We didn't have a great relationship until a few years ago, and it was really cemented by enduring infertility. Part of the tears are not just about the party. I fear we are losing ground in our relationship.

When she said, "I don't think you should see me," I fell apart. Crying hard on the phone. But I think it was because she confirmed what I already suspected would be the case. And really, it would be hardest on me. The reality of her healthy pregnancy and my doomed one. The inescapable truth.

Just to clarify, throughout this pregnancy, my sister has been extremely sensitive to how difficult it is for me. And just as her announcement was couched in terms like "I've already told S about this." I think she will continue to be sensitive. It's going to be a ton of work. For both of us. I think it sucks for both of us. I hope to be up to calling and congratulating her when her children come. I hope to be able to visit, and spend time with her, and rejoice in her family, with her and the rest of my family. I like to think it will happen like that. The way it should happen. I hope we're both strong enough. I told C the other day that I thought it would be a year before we could see my family (with or without A) unless we have a healthy pg in progress. I hope it won't be that long.


Julia said...

Oh, this has to suck so bad. I am so sorry.
The thing is, it is partly her job to make the family remember your children. It is partly her job to say be happy for me, but remember these are not the first grandchildren.
I have a close friend who was due 4 weeks after me. Both of us had to do some work to make sure we stayed close friends, but we both did it.

The bride, though? A total cow! I know it's easy for me to say, but I wouldn't go just so I didn't have to give her another present. Cause I can be a bitch like that. Doesn't help with your feeling of the loss of that connection to your sister, and to the rest of the family. I am sorry.

luna said...

I agree with julia about your sister -- if you want to go for whatever reason, you should tell her so. but I also agree it could be a very difficult occasion on so many levels. so sorry you have to deal with all of this now. ~luna

Rachel said...

I have to admit that reading this made me tear up. I really wish that IF had brought my sister and I closer. And I have no idea how to even broach these conversations with her or the rest of my family. I'm glad that you can still talk to your sister about this, and even if she is in some way 'dictating' advice, at least she is thinking about your feelings.

Sue said...

Thanks for your comments, Julia, Luna and Rachel.

Julia, I do wonder about how she deals with the, well, the shadow that hangs over her pregnancy, since it follows so closely on the heels of my loss. My family, despite the loud NY Jew thing, avoids the hard stuff -- I guess like any family does. It's hard to gauge how people will respond when her kids come. (And can I just say, when my dad told the grief counselor that my boys were his only grandchildren, it just about broke my heart all over again.) Maybe I'll be okay. Maybe we'll work something out.

This Bride? Oh.Good.Lord. I can be a bitch with the best of them and she is a whole post. A whole category of posts. Cow doesn't even begin to describe it.

Luna and Rachel, I am glad that we've been able to talk about this stuff so far. She acknowledged with great gratitude my sensitivity to her during my pregnancy, so I think she's trying to return the favor. It's getting harder though, to communicate. I'm sure most of what she has to talk about is the pregnancy, and it's getting harder and harder for me. And if I cry, well, my family typically doesn't do well with my tears, but I can only imagine her feeling like the cause of them, or at least contributing to them. It's been probably a month since we've had a "real" conversation. I can feel the apprehension building, from both sides.

Busted said...

This whole situation sounds like something that you should not have to deal with right now. Your sister sounds great, but I agree with the comment above that it is partially her responsibility to not let the family forget your boys. The fact that you were even thinking about going amazes me. I have been outright avoiding any and all contact with my brother and SIL, who is due in about a week. I'm hoping they let a third party call to tell me when their baby is born because I don't think I will even be able to feign happiness.

Antigone said...

No no no. This just feels so wrong. It feels like you're being excluded and isolated and forgotten. Family isn't supposed to be about presents and photos and toasts. It's support and love through the good times and the bad. Yeah I know cliche but still...

F*ck anybody who doesn't support you. Okay now I'm all riled up.

k@lakly said...

You know wha, sometimes it does get to be about you too. I hated seeing pregnant people after I lost Caleb. My sister-in-law and I were due days apart, seeing her was so hard, it nearly killed me. But I love her dearly and I knew it was kiling her too. We just treaded lightly, talked about in emails where I wasn't afraid of crying too much and when her baby was born, I felt good about calling her and congratulating her. It's still hard but it gets easier, the thing is they CAN'T ignore what has happened, it doesn't mean they can't be happy about their stuff, but they can't make you 'behave' because it makes it easier on them. Fuck that, it ain't easy on you, why should you have to make it that way for them.

If it makes you feel better in re your Spiritual Care Group, we also asked to NOT have anyone religious come near us at the hospital, and lo and behold, the priest shows up, I spit out "get him Out of here with such venom...if I wasn't going to hell before, I know I bought the express ticket in that moment....