I’ve had a bit of a reality shock over the past week. A phone call with an older relative (OR) that went as follows…
OR: “Have you got any other good news for me?”
OR: “Are you sure?”
Me: “….Sorry, I don’t understand. What do you mean?”
OR: “Any other news? Any good news for me?”
Me (cottoning on and hardening up in anticipation): “No, no other news.”
OR: “Oh… Nothing? No other news?”
OR: “Oh… I was sure you would have. I could feel it, I was sure you would. That’s a terrible shame.”
Me: “….. *awkardly trying to laugh it off* No, that’s all I’ve got for you! That’ll have to be enough news for now!”
OR: “Oh, I’m terribly disappointed. Terribly disappointed. I really did think you would have news by now.” As an aside, she DOES NOT KNOW that we have started trying again. This is all just completely out of the blue. “You need to get him putting in a better performance. It’s time to get on with it, you know! He needs to get exercising and eating right to get his masculinity up!”
By now, my defenses are working in such overtime that I just changed the subject pronto, muttered my way vaguely through the rest of the conversation and said goodbye. I knew when I saw her next, it would be even worse – but I didn’t expect her to bring it up in front of the Mr, as soon as she laid eyes on him, telling him how disappointed in him she was. She was doing it all in a tongue-in-cheek, jokey kind of way – which somehow made it even worse; this is so far from a joke.
But yes, we can joke about TTC. I can laugh about the trials and tribulations, some of them, but not like that. Casting blame and trying to pile on the pressure is a million miles away from how we are trying to approach this whole situation.
And his face. His face will stay with me forever; that moment in the little living room with the old-fashioned furniture and hum of rugby in the background. The lull as he stared ahead at the TV screen, jaw fixed and tense, and I awkwardly scouted about trying to think of something else to say to distract her. And she kept going and going, calling to him, and his eyes didn’t flicker from the screen. That moment is one of the moments of this journey, one of the moments that part of me will always be stuck in, reliving it.
And her saying ‘He can’t hear me, because of the rugby. He’s not listening.’ and I just shook my head and changed the subject once again.
The next time she mentioned it, we were alone, and I could tell her straight that we just didn’t want to put any pressure on and that it was going to be a tough journey, it is already a tough journey and we are not pregnant yet.
She didn’t mean to upset us, she didn’t mean to create that moment and trap a part of me in it. So I couldn’t react in any other way than to patiently explain, gloss over it to save her embarrassment. But that kind of thing still angers me, and I know it is irrational because it was all said in innocence, ignorance, whichever; either way unintentional.
But I am wildly protective of him and I do not want other voices in his head; I don’t want any more moments that will stick with him; I don’t want him to have any more pressure, stress, upset to face. I’m also wildly protective of Isabella, our memory of her which is all I have, and I can’t bear to laugh about trying to get pregnant as though we never had her, never lost her.
It got worse. OR later wouldn’t let the conversation move on, kept apologising and circling back, even saying that she could laugh about it as she had convinced herself it would be fine this time and tried to forget what happened before, but should have known we wouldn’t be able to forget so easily. Tried to forget. That’s sticking around in my head, too, because I let it go instead of shutting it down and correcting it and there are words left unsaid there, words I should have said for Bella.
Words I didn’t say for fear of embarrassing her.
I’ve realised I hold back on a lot in order to prevent any embarassment, awkwardness or hurt feelings. I pretend I’m OK with things when I’m not, I pretend I can cope when underneath I’m struggling, I pretend my feelings aren’t hurt when they are.
Tried to forget. Tried to forget.
This OR would be able to forget very easily. They didn’t see me all that often after we lost her. They never came to visit me. They didn’t come to the funeral. For a genuine reason – the OR was recovering from an op. I actually started doubting whether they even remember her name, while I was there on that same visit – the one time she referred to Bella, she said ‘the baby’ and the rest of the time it was just ‘what happened’.
And I don’t talk about her to them, because she will say the wrong thing, and it will be worse. So it’s better to just carry on regardless, only that’s actually really hard now too. I feel like I’m in a lose-lose situation and now I dread seeing her, which I know she’ll hate.
It’s the brave face battle. Do I tell the truth? Do I pull her up, make her realise her mistake and feel it too? Or at least understand that I feel it, we feel it? Do I gloss over it, move past these indiscretions, try to understand that it is reasonable and not malicious, that of course she won’t understand what it’s like?
I mull over it, backwards and forwards, not sure who to look out for first. But from now on, Bella will always come first, over anybody’s feelings, and I will make sure that nobody thinks I am trying to forget her, pregnant or not.