I have lots of planned posts for the week. This is not one of them.
I was never close to my extended family. I used to joke that if I bumped into many of my relatives at the market I might not recognize them.
Why we were not close to our family is not a topic for this blog. When I moved to Kentucky I was finally within a short drive of my extended family and one July we ventured north for a visit. I was absolutely delighted to find warm, fun, down-t0-earth people. It was awesome to see the physical similarities between us – not only do we resemble one another, we share many mannerisms. We often stand the same way, gesture similarly and laugh much too loudly, especially when enjoying cold beer by a bon fire. I have made several visits back to visit my family, and they have visited Kentucky several times.
During our visits my family jokes with the Professor and I about starting our own family and adding to the growing number of children and babies running around the yard. “Oh no… babies are not for me,” I would joke as I swallowed my infertility secret. Eventually we confided in my closest cousin about our struggle and I shared this blog. Since then she has cheered me on when times were tough, she whooped during my fleeting victory, she granted me space and silence when I lost my pregnancy. She has been a wonderful support.
It has been increasingly hard to see children and pregnant people since my miscarriage. Some days the simple act of seeing a pregnant belly on Facebook is enough to send me into a tailspin of emotions – raw and ugly. Other days I can gleefully discuss another friend’s pregnancy and offer humorous solutions to her constipation. My emotions are bipolar and managing them can be a full-time job.
During all of this my sweet cousin, who has two beautiful and healthy children of her own, began pursuing her life-long dream to become a midwife. She posted frequently to Facebook about the wonders and milestones of her journey. One night the Professor and I were browsing Facebook and both landed on a post from her about the joy of being present when new parents hear their baby’s heartbeat for the first time. This was the final straw.
I never got to hear my baby’s heart beat. The Professor never even got to see our baby on the ultrasound screen. Our baby is dead and with it went a part of our hearts. Without any reason or message, I blocked my cousin’s Facebook page. I then blocked other pages of pregnant friends and acquaintances. The Professor followed my irrational lead.
One. After. Another. I watched as my Friend List dwindled. So many pregnant women and new moms gone in one emotional click.
This was months ago. Sometimes I feel foolish for my behavior. Other times, though, I am relieved that I can log onto Facebook with minimal worry of being accosted by an ultrasound photo. While some infertiles just delete their entire account, I don’t. I keep up with a slew of professional contacts on Facebook. I also follow some hilarious friends who regularly post snippets of their daily conversation that leave me in stitches (I’m talking to you K.T.).
This morning I received an email from my cousin. She is hurt that I blocked her. Her email shared personal thoughts and concerns and then delivered some heart breaking news about our family. It had me in tears at 8:30 a.m. I never, ever meant to hurt her. I feel so blessed that after all of these years I finally have a relationship with my extended family. I am even more grateful that I have formed a bond with my cousin, who shares many of my deep thoughts and crazy obsessions.
I am so scared that by deleting our Facebook connection I have deleted our relationship. What I did was so selfish – this woman has been nothing but supportive of my struggle. The least I could do was follow and cheer as she finally got to pursue her dreams. She, too, has been through far more than her fair share of hard knocks. Why can’t I be supportive of her during this time of triumph? Because I am too wrapped up in myself.
I have become the kind of woman I hate. I am the have-not hiding from the haves. I am the one who brings down a kid’s birthday party because she has to cry for her loss. I am the one who misses family functions because there will be a pregnant belly. I am the one who cancels trips to visit best friends because she is too raw inside to face the world. I am the one who didn’t know her best friend of many years got married because she was too busy mourning the loss of a pregnancy that had barely existed. I am the one who puts her pains ahead of everyone else’s joy. I know people like this and I regularly use harsh terms to describe them: selfish, childish, greedy, pathetic.
I’m horrified and ashamed to realize that I am now one of them.