Family always comes first, unless we never have a family

We’ve started packing up for our big move at the end of the month.  But going through some of my stuff has turned me into a sobbing baby.  There are a lot of memories in there.

There are many things that get me choked up.  Most of the things that I’ve been organizing and packing are from a time before I knew I’d have fertility problems.  They are from back in the day when I thought I would fall in love, get married and have 2-3 kids and live happily ever after.  At 32, I’ve failed repeatedly at starting a family.  I’ve blamed myself and pushed my husband away at times.  We are still working through it, but I realize it’s not something that will ever be solved.  It’s just something that you manage.

A couple of things got my emotions going today, but the worst was when I burst into tears clearing out my dresser drawers.  Why?  Probably just because I’m in that mood.  But exactly why is because I saw a card that I had kept from our vet when we had to put down our cat, Kweli.  He was only 3.5 years old, but had an undiagnosed kidney issue.  One day he was sick, two days later he was in the hospital getting worse.  Turns out he suffered from complete renal failure, and would have only made it another day or two tops, but he was suffering.  So we made the difficult decision at 2am to say goodbye after a day and a half in the hospital undergoing tests.

Kweli had been through a lot with me.  He had been through a bad relationship with a boyfriend who was very cruel to me, and the breakup that followed.  He was part of the move into my first home, my job changes and promotions.  He was part of the early days of my relationship with my now husband.  Kweli was by far the coolest cat ever.  He wasn’t your typical cat; he seemed to really understand what was going on.  Losing him did lead me to the Humane Society, where we got Kaia and Mason (we already had Bella).  But for some reason, even 4 years later, the thought of losing Kweli can still bring me to tears.

The thing is, I know it’s more than that.  Kweli was so important to me.  But the void was never filled in the way that I expected.  There are still no kids running around our house.  There are no kids on the way.  What could have been the most amazing April of our lives this year, turned out to only be a reminder of our miscarriage the previous year.  Mother’s Day should have been my first, Father’s Day would have been a first for my husband.  This would have been our first Christmas as a family.

I know that Brandon and I are still a family by definition.  But not in social terms.  We aren’t part of the Family Christmas Party invite list.  Our schedule doesn’t need to be factored in when planning parties and events (we can just change our plans, it’s not like we have kids with early bed times).  Family Holidays revolve around traditional families, and we aren’t one of them.  No matter how much people include us, there is always a hole.

I know it’s being very selfish, and maybe a little ungrateful.  But I’m petrified of living in the same house for a month with my pregnant sister-in-law.  Not because she’ll do anything to upset me.  I am excited to meet my new niece or nephew in November, but that doesn’t mean I’m not envious.  I’m glad that they are adding another member to our extended family.  But I’m scared because my emotions sneak up on me.  They are not rational, aren’t always fair, and make for super awkward discussions when I just start crying.  We’ve been through this before and it turned me into a bit of a monster.  It wasn’t on purpose, and that won’t be what happens again because I’ve got my shit more under control.  But I’m scared that I will say or do something that will hurt her.  It wouldn’t ever be on purpose, but it probably wouldn’t be fair either.  I’m scared of the infertility monster that lives deep inside me.  I’ve learned over the last 5 years how to control it, but even the best trained dog will growl if poked and prodded.  I hope I don’t turn into that person.  The last thing I need is to hurt my family and have people tiptoeing around me.

What I’d like is for everything to continue as usual.  I don’t need special treatment or anything.  I just worry that I won’t have space to deal with my emotions.  No seriously.  There will be no physical space.  There will be 6 adults (one of them 7 months pregnant), one 4 year old, three dogs and two cats in about 1700 square feet.  YIKES.  I really hate who I can become sometimes, and I don’t ever want to put someone I care about in that path.

So here I am, already worried about my living conditions.  It makes me seem very ungrateful for the hospitality my in-laws are showing us while we’re essentially homeless.  But I’m not ungrateful.  And that’s where the infertility monster causes problems.  Everything somehow becomes about the hurt you feel because of infertility.  I’m ashamed of that, and I cope with it, but what if it comes out while we’re guests, surrounded by family who loves and supports us, and who has always been there for us through our infertility struggles?

How do I explain to my sister-in-law that some days I just might not want to come to the dinner table because I’m having a bad day?  Especially after our miscarriage when she was the first person to drop ice cream off on our doorstep and to offer any support we need.  I want to support her now too, but there are some moments of weakness that I’m not proud of.  And it’s those moments that scare me.

We are going to DC for the shared risk IVF program in the spring.  But now that it’s getting closer and more real, I can’t help but worry about whether it will actually work.  We’ve been down this road before.  Full of hope.  Only to have that hope and part of our souls ripped out.  What if we never ever get what we want more than anything?  I’ve heard my husband say it before and I always tell him to stop thinking like that.  But really, what is the point of 60 more years if we have no family to share it with?  Life without births, first days of kindergarten, first boyfriends, high school and college graduation, your kids getting married, having grandchildren… What’s the point?  Travel?  It’s not fulfilling for everyone.  After writing this, I wonder if I’m less scared of the monster that might come out while we’re all living in such close quarters, and more scared of the monster that will eat me alive if DC doesn’t work.


5 thoughts on “Family always comes first, unless we never have a family

  1. Reblogged this on Dee Van Dyk and commented:
    My son and daughter-in-law struggle with infertility. Over the years, I’ve said every wrong thing that can be said; done every stupid thing that can be done, in my reaction to their struggle.

    I’ve tasted a small, bitter taste of their unhappiness when Tiana became pregnant, then miscarried. It remains one of the most despairing moments of *my* life; I can’t possibly imagine how horrific the rollercoaster of hope and dashed-hope is for an infertile couple.

    I too, am worried about a house-full of my children, while they wait for their new homes to be ready. Whether it’s a couple of weeks or a couple of months that we’re all penned up together, there can’t help but be awkward and painful moments. And I don’t want those unfortunate moments to define our relationships going forward.

    And I’m so thankful to Tiana for expressing herself so openly in the blogpost below. Tiana, you have a pass to skip family meals whenever things get overwhelming.

  2. Tiana, I’m not going to tell you how to feel or react. I walked the infertility path, and every time I miscarried, I felt like a failure on a base, cellular level because I couldn’t do what women were created to do. I couldn’t carry a baby. The true irony is that although I couldn’t carry a fetus, my uterus had absolutely no problem growing fibroids. I had one the size of a grapefruit that led to a hysterectomy.

    there is more than one way to become a family. I’m both an adopted child and an adoptive parent. My daughter grew in my heart rather than my tummy but I don’t love her any less because of it. There are always options.

    When we had found out we couldn’t have children, we started on the adoption road. One of my co-workers, who already had 2 children age 3, 5, came in and announced she was pregnant with twins. I had to go and cry in the bathroom because although I was happy for her, the injustice hit me hard. She was going to have 4 babies, and I just wanted one. Our first adoption fell through, and in some ways, it was worse than the miscarriages because people understood even less. “Well, you can just try again,” although it took 2 1.2 years for the first one to happen…

    I am now the proud mama bear of a 9 year old. She has special needs and we deal with it. But I recently wrote an article about midwives, and the midwife kept saying things like “you know when you’re pregnant” and I kept having to remind her that, no, I didn’t know. I had to fight the infertility inadequacy all over.

    It becomes something you deal and cope with. I send you support and teary nods of understanding. May you and your husband succeed in your family goal, one way or another.

    1. Lisa,

      Thank you for your reply. It is definitely difficult going through all the emotions related to infertility. I love that you were able to complete your family through adoption. It is something we are open to considering – but only after we exhaust our other options. I truly do believe you; we will build a family one way or another.


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