Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Part Two

Now for Part 2 of my awful weekend...

I had to take a break from relaying everything at once because it really is upsetting. Your reactions/comments make me feel a lot better—H and I keep asking ourselves how things with his parents could really be this bad. We just don’t get it. My ultimate conclusion is that MIL and FIL simply do not listen to us or hear our pain at all. They only hear what they want to hear. I’d blame it on the distance, but the reality is that I only see my parents in person a little bit more than his parents see us. In fact, we’ve only seen both sets of parents once since our news. It comes down to H’s parents just not listening to what we keep telling them.

Okay, so...for the rest of Saturday H’s dad was very quiet—not his usual boisterous (loud/rude) self at all. He did make a demeaning comment to H’s brother at dinner, though, and H totally jumped on him for it. (Basically, BIL was saying how he currently has a 4.0 GPA in the new program he has started, and FIL spoke up that he only got that because one of his professors graded his B on a curve. H spoke up that an A is an A, no matter what it was before the curve.) After that, H left dinner a little early to go upstairs and take a nap. I wanted to go with him, but worried that they would start talking about us if I did, so I stayed. H had been working late all week, so I knew he was tired. Nothing bad happened at dinner and conversation was about normal stuff, so I started to feel a tiny bit bad that H’s dad was so withdrawn because we yelled at him. (But really—it was his own mess and we shouldn’t feel bad for correcting him. After all, he’d been hurting us repeatedly without any sign of remorse.) Any feelings of guilt I had went away when I finally went upstairs to check on H. He wasn’t asleep at all- he was just taking the time to be a wreck, full-on Emmie style. I felt so very bad for him. He talked about how he couldn’t believe he was related to his family, how he hated being there, and how he just wanted to go home. He said he hated that his family was also putting me through all of this and stressing me out during a time I should not be so stressed.

I had kinda expected H’s parents to have taken a moment to regroup together before/after the dinner and apologize or at least talk to H, but they never did. I did see them talking together looking somber before we went to bed, but nothing came of it. So H felt he still needed to spell things out for his mom, and I agreed, since there was no guarantee that H’s dad would share what we had said to him. H’s dad hates to be corrected, so I’m sure telling MIL that we had chewed him out wasn’t on the top of his to-do list. H said he would talk to his mom early the next morning (both of them always get up before everyone else in the house and have coffee). I asked him if he wanted me there, but neither of us really wanted a group discussion.

Well, I tossed and turned about it all night. Ultimately, I decided in the middle of the night that H had done enough talking to his parents and that I should make the next move to take some of the pressure off of him. I also felt that maybe his mom would take it more seriously if I spoke up, since I’m not the type to have heart-to-heart talks with her. I decided I would be calm about it and just be really honest about how our feelings were being affected by her and FIL’s actions.

I crept out of bed super early when I heard MIL get up. She seemed a little surprised, so I just sat down and launched into the fact that I wanted to talk to her privately because there are some things going on that are really hurting H (and me) that she and FIL need to know about. I had her full attention. I said, I’m sure you must know that FIL really upset us yesterday when we were telling J about the pregnancy. She looked surprised and said, “No? Why? What did he say?” I was shocked she had no clue, but I reminded her of how FIL cut me off when I mentioned twins in my family, saying that wasn’t the reason I was having twins. I told her that H and I were completely shocked and hurt that he would say that when H had made it clear several times to them that our treatment was not to be discussed with anyone. I got a big "Oh" in response. Then she tried to defend herself and FIL, saying it must have been a misunderstanding because they thought we just didn’t want them talking about the pregnancy before we were ready to (which was a stupid thing to say, since they also did that anyway.) This was a flat out lie, because H had all three of the conversations with his parents about their lack of discretion before we even had the procedure done. I reminded her about how she had told the one brother about our IF and how he had called H on his birthday and asked him about his fertility problems right with a high school friend sitting next to him. Another “Oh.”

I decided to let her slide on a “misunderstanding” (since calling her a liar probably wouldn't work with my calm tactic), saying, well, now you know without a doubt that it is the fertility treatments we do not want being discussed, ever, so please talk to anyone you told and explain to them that this is a private matter that should not have been shared. She then questioned why, since fertility treatments are so common these days, and that it was no big deal that I had a blocked tube. I calmly replied with tears starting to fall that she had no idea how painful the whole diagnosis and process had been for me and H, and that we cannot bear to have constant reminders about it. I said we are grateful for the technology, but we need to move on and heal. We can’t do that if we’re constantly being reminded about it, especially through unnecessary remarks like the one FIL made at dinner.

Then I addressed the tube thing, since she never acknowledges the fact that MFI was the main factor in our need for IVF/ICSI and she seems to keep putting blame on me. I said "I can have kids unassisted with one tube, but H cannot have kids without IVF, period. It is our problem together, but you need to understand how this is especially painful for H and obviously not something he wants to spell out to people." Again, it was an “Oh.” I told her, "given H’s medical problem in this, you also need to understand that he was 100% against IVF (and I didn’t even get into ICSI which he needed and was even more against), and he hated the fact that he was 90% of the problem while I had to endure 100% of the very invasive procedures/treatment." I said that H has strong moral objections to what we had to do to get pregnant, and I had to be the one to ask him to compromise those values for the sake of us as a family. I told her that doing that was extremely hard, because I respect his beliefs and felt awful asking him to bend them. I told her it took me a long time to help him come to terms with the treatment we needed and to agree to it. (I really wanted her to know that without my willingness to do this, she wouldn’t be expecting these two grandkids right now.) I told her that while it is against my religion to do IVF, I had to think hard about my own beliefs in order to come to the conclusion that God has given these treatments for a reason, and that’s what got me through it. I said even though H is not a practicing Catholic like me, his beliefs are actually very strongly aligned with the church’s beliefs on all this. Considering this, I told her that it was especially important that she and FIL stop discussing our treatments because they are a very open wound for us and one that will never heal. Considering H had many reservations about treatment in the first place, he does not need a constant reminder of them. I told her that if this round had not worked, H did not want to try a second time.

Well, this all just flabbergasted her. She said, “I don’t know where he got these beliefs from! His father and I don’t believe there is anything wrong with IVF! Why does he feel this way? Maybe he was just concerned with you violating your religion.” I had to laugh at that last part and said oh, no--my own religious beliefs were not the issue at all in this matter. I said, these are H’s beliefs, pure and simple, and they should be respected.

She still questioned why he had a problem with IVF, so I explained that he believes in leaving the creation of life to nature and if he is not capable of having kids naturally, there is a reason for it that he should not try to get around. I explained to her that fertility treatments don’t actually treat the root problem; they simply allow you to work around it. She still seemed baffled by H’s beliefs and there was really nothing more I could say. She tried to appeal to the fact that I’m more open in talking about it/accepting, and I said--not really. I’m just telling you all this so you understand and we never have to discuss this again. I said we both have decided as a couple that no one is to discuss this, and we would not have told them if we had to do this again and if we had known they would tell people. I told her how H was extremely upset the day before to the point of wanting to leave, and I told her that this needed to be taken very seriously for the sake of her and FIL’s relationship with H. I said if this continues, it will pull you and H apart.

Then I gave her some simple rules to prevent any further “misunderstandings.”

1. If someone asks if we did fertility treatments when they find out we are having twins, your response is simply--twins run in her family.

2. You must explain to H’s brothers and anyone else you told not to ever discuss our treatments, in front of us or with other people, because you shouldn't have told them in the first place. And just because we’re not around doesn’t make it okay to talk about it.

3. No one is to ever tell or insinuate to our kids that we used IVF. How, when, and if we tell them is entirely up to us, and we will not tolerate anyone forcing us into telling them because of an unnecessary remark.

I received an okay to all three of these items, so there was nothing more to say. MIL said that she did want to be able to talk to H about all of this and at least apologize. I said that apologizing and telling him you understand would be very helpful. She still seemed to indicate that she wanted to talk to him about why he had the feelings he did, and I told her that I wouldn’t push him in discussing those things--that’s why I had chosen to have this conversation with her—so that he didn’t have to. I said you need to understand that he had a hard time talking about this even with me, and the reason he hasn’t told you before in such detail is because he can’t without becoming extremely upset. I told her she should respect how he feels and just forget we ever had treatment going forward.

Then we talked about other stuff, giving my slow, leaky tears time to dry before H came down to join us for breakfast. I do think his mom was truly concerned by what I said, and she seemed very sympathetic to how difficult it was for me to say it. I’d like to think she will thank me for having the guts to do it. But who knows.

I told H the whole thing when we had a moment alone, and he was very grateful for what I had done but was also disturbed by some of her reactions to what I said. He’s worried that most of what I said was wasted breathe, because she can’t get past the fact that anyone would have different feelings about this than her and FIL. He’s afraid she will ultimately think we are just too sensitive (something she has said in the past about other rude stuff they’ve done.) He’s also afraid she will wake up the next day and think, “who does that Emmie think she is for talking to me like that about my son? If he felt that way, I would know.” He might be right. But for now I know I did the right, mature thing--the only thing that could be done to try to salvage this relationship. Time will tell if it had an impact.


Hope548 said...

Good for you Emmie. I hope it sticks!

Motel Manager said...

That all sounds so hard, but you handled it beautifully! I will use this as a guide for myself if I should need to address anything wtih my ILs at any point. Very maturely done!

Now, let's hope that they can be mature instead of just defensive and move on from here. I hope so!

Michelle said...

WOW, Emmie. I'm so sorry that you had to go through all of that this weekend, during what should be such a happy time for you. I have to say, it sounds as though you and H conducted yourselves beautifully, and you really are to be commended for the patience that you showed his parents. I hope that they both heard you this time - it sounds like maybe you have finally gotten through to them, but I am so sorry for how much they have put you through in the process. They sound like they mean well enough, but just have no ability to put themselves in your shoes and no respect for your feelings, if they don't match up with how they feel about things. But I'm really hopeful that you made a breakthrough with both of them. Time will tell, I guess.

Melissa said...

Oh Emmie...It's always frustrating when someone is "hearing" what you have to say, but not listening and soaking it all up. I just hate that. I hope the in-laws FINALLY come around and leave you two alone to enjoy the pregnancy that you worked so hard for.

GLouise said...

You are a very, very good wife! I think it was a good idea to have a woman to woman chat with MIL.

Now...remember... don't tell her anything, ever again! LOL. Like- the sex of the babies, etc.

But really, I think that was a great tactic to tackle the problem head on with her, and share your heart.

Best wishes,

Meg said...

Ah, the old "too sensitive" excuse.

I want desperately to bag and make awful rude comments and be baffled and nasty, but I know it wouldn't help.

Why do families have to be so difficult??

Lara said...

You've got guts girl! Im proud of you!! It's nobody's business but yours so they need to learn how to keep their gobs shut and mind their own business! Also, how dare they steal your thunder and tell people when they knew you already had plans to tell everyone at dinner! You handled things MUCH better than I would have. You're my hero!

StellaNova said...

Phew! That's huge. You really are very strong to confront her in this way. I hope the message really does get through this time. What an emotionally draining way to start your day.

Sunny said...

I am so proud for you! You are so awesome. I hope this took a load off your shoulders. HUGS TO YOU!!!

Mary said...

I am fairly new to reading your blog. May I first offer my congratulations on the wonderful news of your pregnancy. I’ve had my own family issues in the past year so I can understand where you are coming from and yes, stress is the last thing you need right now.

Good for you sitting down with your MIL. I have a feeling that its not going to be so easy with them and its not over yet. I’d take it one step further and sit down with both your in-laws with your husband and spell it out clear with both of them that way there is NO confusion. Like Dr. Phil says “you teach people how to treat you.” I would be super clear with your in-laws or have your husband be really clear with his parents that if you ___________ (fill in the blank) then XYZ will happen. That might mean stepping away from your relationship for awhile.

I can’t imagine what will happen when your children are older if you don’t sit down with the in-laws and let them know you mean business and you are not going to be push around. Hang in there!

luolin said...

I really admire you for being able to confront MIL and FIL (and your sister in previous post), since I am Ms. Conflict Avoider.

Like Michelle said, it seems that they are incapable of empathy, with their focus on how they think you should feel, or how the rest of world (they think) feels about ivf, rather than respecting your feelings.

Stupid blogspot-I missed another week of your posts!