Friday, November 22, 2013

Two Years Ago at Thanksgiving

Several years ago my parents became snowbirds; they now spend much of their year in Scottsdale, AZ. Two years ago at Thanksgiving was the last time that my brother, SIL, my husband, and I would all go out there for either for either Thanksgiving or Christmas (we alternated holidays). I loved going out there, swimming, playing pool volleyball, relaxing in the spa, while celebrating the holidays; it was such a change from cold and gray; the sunshine was blissful. It all changed two years ago...

Two years ago we were waiting for our first appointment with an RE. (Waiting for appointments is way up there on my list of least favorite things.) I had tried several months of acupuncture and Chinese herbs, hoping to be able to avoid needing that appointment; the acupuncture helped me deal with the insane levels of stress from the job I hated, but it didn't take away the need for that dreaded appointment. After those months of trying, I knew the symptoms of early pregnancy backwards, forwards, and inside out, since I had spent so long hoping to see them in myself. Instead of observing them in myself, though, I became the first to know without being told, that my SIL was pregnant. Was I happy for them? Yes... and no. But first some background...

Growing up, my parents, especially my father, compared my brother and I at every turn: grades, activities, behavior, you name it. So yes, I was (and still am, though to a lesser degree) competitive with my brother. I wasn't particularly thrilled when my kid brother married before I did, especially when some of my new SIL's family insisted that I had to be the younger sibling because I wasn't married. (That incident happened 7 or 8 years ago, and I still get pissed off thinking about it. You'd think they were stuck in the 1950's, where not being married straight out of high school or by the end of college was unthinkable for a woman.) Due to a set of difficult circumstances, my PhD was never finished, while my brother left grad school with a master's degree. I really wanted to achieve one major life milestone before my brother; since it wasn't marriage or finishing grad school, couldn't it have been having a child? 

I was happy for them because of the fertility problems they had already been through. They knew before they started trying that they would need medical assistance; due to a benign tumor that grew near her pituitary gland (removed previously), SIL did not cycle on her own. However, within 4 or 5 cycles of trying, they conceived, though that pregnancy was not viable. After 6 months for recovery, this second pregnancy came within just a few months of trying again. Even now, after almost two years, I struggle with this; they conceived twice in less than a year of trying, while we are coming up on three years of trying. (I'm really not trying to get into the wretched game of "more infertile than thou," but isn't the definition of IF supposed to involve trying for 6 months or a year? It also doesn't help that SIL seems to get the sympathy, while I got the dumb suggestions. Having a medical explanation instead of being labeled "unexplained" can do that.)

That was probably the most difficult holiday I have ever been through. I was mad at everyone: mad at God, mad at my body, mad at my parents (for making me so damn competitive), mad at my husband for not getting it. But I couldn't show it to anyone but my husband, or maybe briefly my mother. I had to be happy, and solicitous of my SIL, and do my level best to keep family harmony and happiness. (Who me, a people pleaser?) I was miserable and would have loved to leave early, but I couldn't. I was trapped. I felt like a horrible person, insanely guilty, for not being thrilled about their pregnancy. Heck, I still feel guilty about it. The most I could do to deal with it was put myself through brutal, punishing workouts, and even that didn't help much (and scared my mother - telling her "If I'm not back in a couple of hours, I'm probably passed out on the workout room floor" was not one of my brighter ideas.) 

Last year my family gathered at New Year's, so I didn't really have to face this memory. This year, though, we are getting together for Thanksgiving, and I'm struggling with the memories. It doesn't help that I'm going nuts trying to get everything ready in time for this holiday extravaganza (we're celebrating Thanksgiving, my mother and SIL's birthdays, and Christmas all in one long weekend), as well as once again waiting for a doctor's appointment. (December 9 is when we are currently scheduled to get the answers from all the tests done in October.) 

At this point my lists have lists... and I'm stuck worrying about toddler proofing my house. I'm exhausted and have already had epic, toddler-level  meltdowns. (Oh, the irony.) Yesterday's started when I realized I had lost a $25 gift card that I had just bought; of course I frantically retraced my steps trying to find it, to no avail, and the meltdown lasted pretty much the rest of night (almost 6 hours). I've been having a hard time falling asleep and waking up in the middle of the night, and I'm someone who really needs her sleep. To say that I'm a mess would be quite the understatement. My parents arrive on Monday, and brother's family arrives on Wednesday. If you can spare a moment, please offer a prayer that I will have the strength and grace to get through this with my sanity more or less intact.


  1. Holidays can be so stinking hard! Yes, I will be praying for you!

  2. I can so relate to being competitive with a sibling. Every single time I see my brother's name on my caller ID/text list or my parents mention him I brace myself for the news that is sure to come soon - that he and his wife will make my parents grandparents long before I do. It's so so hard.
    I will be keeping you close in prayer this week - and let's plan another Olive Garden date soon :).

  3. I will pray for you as I continue to recover from surgery.

  4. That's a lot of pressure to deal with this weekend. Peace to you!!!! ...hope you can schedule something to look forward to after Thanksgiving.

  5. Ugh... praying for you! I get just as stressed about holidays with my in-laws (SIL had a baby in April 2012) and I never have to host or anything. Praying that you are able to relax and enjoy the blessing of your family!

  6. Prayers! You've got a lot on your plate right now!