My therapy visit emboldened me to finally relent a little and give in to a long-standing wish of my husband’s: that the relationship between his parents and I improve. So I told him to invite them over, along with his sister and brother-in-law who were in town and their 11 month old son (a shadow baby) and 4 year old son.
When they arrived my mother-in-law and brother-in-law give me a kiss on the cheek, the father-in-law says a weak hello. My sister-in-law just walked in and made little to know eye contact. I wanted to shoot her. Although his clan is not touchy feely like mine, I think this entrance stemmed from this:
Four months after Emi died, I decided to go over my in-laws house with Beefcake for a b-b-q and a dip in their pool. There I was in the kitchen, sitting at their table and mother-in-law hands me an envelope that arrived in the mail for me. (When my husband and I bought our new home, we briefly listed their address as our own for correspondence while we were between homes). I open the letter; a bill from the day I gave birth to Emi. I fight to hold in the tears and decide to get a glass of water. I am about to the open the refrigerator door and there on a magnet was attached an invitation to a baby shower; the baby shower for the baby that shared Emi’s due date, had she lived of course. This hit my core – hard – I could hardly breathe. I excused myself to go upstairs and cry in the bathroom and my husband follows. We chat, we hug. I feel better and tell him to go back down stairs. I come down about 20 minutes later and sit back down in the kitchen and munch on chips. The smoke in my head clears as he walks in. “Were you listening?”, he asked. “What? Eavesdropping? NO! Why?”
“Nothing.” (This “nothing” or “never mind” crap does not work on me.) I insist and he gave in.
He just blurted it out: “My parents think you are over-reacting and that you need to move on. They think you are becoming an emotional burden to me and they are worried about me. They are worried about our marriage. They say they don’t want me to be sad; they just don’t like to see me sad.”
I fucking blew up; I mean I just lost my shit. It seems the in-laws wanted me to forget Emi the moment she exited my body. Assholes.
I slammed my fist repeatedly on the kitchen table as I screamed my heart out. I told him that I was sick and tired of his parents acting like nothing happen. I told him it’s not like I lost the baby 1 day after finding out I was pregnant. I was well on my way to 6 months of pregnancy. We were asked to end the pregnancy of my baby, my baby! She had no chance at life. Do you know how that hurts me? And you, you are supposed to be sad because you lost your baby too. I didn’t just roll over and deliver her I went through fucking agony laboring for her and then a D&C. So forgive me, forgive me if I get emotional when I see a baby shower invitation, alright? Because something would be very wrong if I didn’t, ok? Something would be very wrong with me if I did not love and long for my child.
I raged. Bad. I regret it. Bad. Why? Well my little 2 year old nephew had wondered into the room and saw his aunt going batshit crazy and started crying thinking he did something wrong. I think I downright traumatized him. I felt so bad, my husband and I rushed toward him and tried to comfort him, but it was of now use. Next thing I know the in-laws are in the room trying to figure out what happened. It was a haze. Beefcake is screaming at me and I’m just crying my eyes out. In-laws are looking at me like a freak of nature and my nephew is still crying. “We are leaving now.” My husband downright instructs me. It was awful. AWFUL. I felt like a child abuser. The irony: my father-in-law screams his head off all the time; and says whatever is on his mind all the time. He is always talking right out of his ass, right along with my mother-in-law . The one time I lose it, the one time I really say it how it is, my poor little nephew wanders into the room and I look like the lunatic.
Things really went south after that. Sister-in-law is calling the in-laws to figure out what happened. Then she calls Beefcake to find out what happened. The next day the mother-in-law calls me to give her advice. She tells me to move on, that there is a life to lead, that they hurt when they see their son sad. That I may become too much for him….blah, blah, blah..
And I told her that his duty is to support me and that we have a right to be sad because we have been through hell. I tell her that I am functioning because I only missed 2 weeks of work after Emi died, although the doctor offered me more time off to recoup mentally (Even the doctor had more of a clue). I told her that her son has never come home from work to a dirty house or go without a home cooked meal. I told her that I lost so much blood after Emi, that any time I would bend over I would literally see black and stars. If she wanted to support us, that would have been the time – while I was recuperating. So we managed like we could. I reminded her that when her son was breaking my heart while we were dating that she NEVER found it prudent to interject her opinion and that now was too late to care. I told her that what hurt the most is that I put up with all the years of their criticizing me for my weight, and then my age (I’m 10 years younger than my husband) and a host of other subjects, but mostly my weight. I told her that for her and her husband being so forward and opinionated, it was funny – no – it was downright hysterical that they remained so mum about Emi.
I know. I was evil. Now that I think of it, it could have been handled quite differently. But words can not describe how hurt I was that they were not there for Emi, she was (is) our baby, she meant the world to us; her loss equated to our world crumbling. If they chose not to be there for her, why not us? Why? Is it because she was incompatible life…and therefore not worthy? Because, you know, she would have died anyway? Is that the logic? Ask me if they ever uttered these words: I’m sorry your baby died.
So back to the night they came over. Recalling the incident with her son, I gave the sister-in-law some slack. Taking into account how much I love Emi and Daniella I could not fault her for holding the grudge. Eventually I held the shadow baby and he was a cutie! Once I started to interact with her children she relaxed and everyone did too. It seems everyone was collectively holding their breath waiting for me to lose it.
It didn’t happen. I did alright. My nephews are stunning. The baby was 11 months old and still crawling; he was born a preemie and lived. So he may be slightly developmentally delayed but expected to catch up. Ah, the mental dialogue that was going on in my mind as I held my nephew…Suffice it to say, that the internal video was playing in my mind. In it, Daniella lay in the NICU, too many machines to name were buzzing around her. Each machine was either helping to keep her alive and breathing or was relaying information on her vitals. There was this moment when her chest heaved; and it was devastatingly apparent that she was not getting all the breath she needed.. My baby was suffocating and fighting at the same time. Then I lightly rubbed her tiny right foot with my finger and she wiggled it. I whispered to her: “I got you back, Mommy got you back”. I always planned on tickling her feet and ‘getting back at her’ for all those painful kicks to my cervix. I can’t describe – words fall pathetically short – the feeling that I had. For that briefest of moments she KNEW Mommy was there. And then the machines started blaring and the doctors came running over. They took my husband to the side, possibly thinking that after over 24 hours of labor and severe blood loss and my blood pressure falling so low that I was passing out, well maybe the thought was that I could not handle to hear that conversation. Who knows? All I know is that my husband’s face set in such a way that I knew it was the end.
Yes, that is the pleasant video tape that goes off every time I see a baby. Every fucking time. What an existence.