I don’t like to rant, and I may end up deleting this. But it’s been brewing for a while now and today it came to a head when my mother called me to check how I was after the op I had yesterday.
The op was to remove the fibroid they found in my uterus during the miscarriage, the end of my one and only pregnancy following our first round of IVF.
But first, let me tell you about my brother.
I’ve referred to him on here before as Real First Born, or RFB. In many cases we refer to him as the golden child or similar. RFB has a charmed existence and it’s taken me every bone in my body growing up with him in my family not to resent him and not to blame him for the easy life he’s had. (Because, adoptees and infertiles: I truly believe that it’s not the fault of fortunate people that they are more fortunate.)
Backtrack. If you’ve read my blog a bit, you’ll know I was adopted. I’m generally fine with it, but there are complexities around feeling secure in your place in the world and in your family, and around wanting a biological child – the only person in your life who would be biologically related to you, who would look a little like you, a little like their other parent.
RFB was the miracle child. He was born when my parents had given up hope. They’d adopted two children; they thought they were happy with this. He’s the spitting image of my dad. He’s named after my maternal grandfather, the one my mother could never impress (and who didn’t live to see any of his grandchildren, just as well as he sounded like a nasty piece of work). Our youngest sibling is also an unexpected but has had a harder life, being gay.
RFB, on the other hand, is the archetypal English man. Wholesome, sports playing, well educated (but not that clever! As we Brits like our middle class men to be!). RFB was never bullied (apart from by his older siblings, probably). He was always the apple of my mother’s eye, her miracle boy – who could blame her? He breezed through school, playing on all the teams, being exceedingly popular and generating friends and smiles wherever he went. He is a nice guy. He’s nice because he has never known suffering in his life. It is easy to be nice when you only see nice things. I envied him growing up, and I was resentful. It’s taken me a lot to try and get over that, and not to blame him for his easy life. Mostly I’m fine and we get on well. But occasionally he doesn’t think. (My mum says “He’s a man!” as an excuse, and blames it all on his wife.)
He married his childhood sweetheart. They never dated anyone else. They had their first child with no problems, and then they decided to have another one a few years later, and of course got pregnant just fine. They’ve just moved to a huge new house – trading up. She’s even given up work just because they can. (We would struggle on a single salary… even though we earn more, they don’t have an ex to support!) Even down to the fact that they have the “perfect” one boy followed by one girl. Without even trying they just get everything anyone wants. Really, they would make you sick even without anything else!
I keep telling myself that nice things happen to nice people. But then I think: Am I not nice? Seriously, all the crap I’ve been through… Am I not nice because of it? Or do bad things happen because I’m not nice? I think mean thoughts sometimes. And I think maybe I’m just feeling sorry for myself today.
Anyway, back to history. For their last (first, previous) child, they decided to announce that he would be christened on a certain day. This day fell right in the middle of a skiing holiday I’d booked six months before. It was one week holiday and it came at a very bad time in my life, when I’d just separated from my husband and I really hadn’t been away at all. It was my first holiday with friends and they were so supportive of me. And they couldn’t rearrange the christening at all apparently (a month in advance rather than six months in advance). My holiday was all paid for and I was very short of money so it would mean no other holidays that year.
My brother wanted me to cancel or postpone my holiday. I looked into going late and missing three days (half the holiday!) to attend the christening. Bearing in mind I was one of FIVE siblings between them. I mean, I wasn’t really necessary to arrangements. I worked out that to delay and get separate flights and transfers would cost around £600. In the end I just couldn’t afford it and I went on holiday and took part in the christening by Skype. Yes, churches can do Skype!
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. My brother sent me a message saying “We are going to get Little Miss christened on your birthday weekend. Hope you don’t mind.”
What. The. ????
Let’s consider this. He’s well aware that I’ve lost a baby and I am meant to be pregnant right now. I would be sporting a nice big bump and foregoing wine and generally being a smug pregnant person. Instead I’ve just had an operation to remove a fibroid that was taking up residence in my womb, that likely prevented my pregnancy from progressing. Bear in mind that Little Miss has not even been born yet. She’s due in a few weeks. She will be teeny tiny by the time my birthday rolls around. In the Christian faith, there isn’t any major imperative to get a child christened within a certain time. Some wait till they’re one or something. There’s no particular religious reason.
Oh and there are FIFTY-ONE other weekends in the year when they could have Little Miss christened.
Why the rush? Apparently it’s because SIL wants Little Miss to wear her christening dress and wants it to fit. I am sure that given she hasn’t even been born yet would mean they aren’t sure what size she’ll be on my birthday weekend, and I don’t see why she would be significantly different in size the weekend before or after.
So let’s think about this:
He knows it’s my birthday.
He knows that we lost our baby and would have been pregnant now.
He knows that the last christening fell during my one holiday booked six months in advance.
He “hopes [I] don’t mind”.
Maybe I’m overreacting. (FWIW, my sibling #2 was absolutely incandescent on my behalf. I haven’t discussed with #4.)
Another bit of history: birthdays are a big deal for me. I’ve had quite a few of them. Maybe it’s an adopted person’s thing. Maybe it’s a me thing. I think being one of four it was our special day. I think having been adopted it was my belonging day. I just know I always found them important. And one of the things with my ex… He never used to celebrate them with me. I used to have these huge parties and he wouldn’t attend. We would do something different, just us. In a decade of birthdays he attended one of my parties (my 30th). It used to make me feel like **** that my partner / husband didn’t want to come to social occasions with me, and even worse on birthdays. So I’d make up for it by having extravagant bashes and telling myself it would be okay.
After we split up, I decided I wasn’t going to give up things that were important to me. I was going to celebrate life and not feel guilty for doing so. I was going to be happy and social rather than scared and isolated. I was going to say what I wanted in relationships and not compromise on important things like: a guy who wants to be seen with you in public, a guy who isn’t afraid to say he loves you every single day, a guy who kisses you on the lips and tells you you’re gorgeous (even when you’re not)…
I found my guy. He does all those things and more. And he was adopted so he knows about some things that we can’t even say. He knows that birthdays are important. On my first one together, he did a special birthday trip to… Disneyland Paris. It was a surprise, and he organised everything from the champagne breakfast to the Disney hotel and telling me all the best rides to go on. After a long time of feeling sad, being happy again. Our birthdays are only a few days apart so we go every year. He loves Christmas just like I do, and we know that we have to go and celebrate our birthdays before Christmas celebrations kick off.
So that’s my feelings on birthdays. And christening. For this one, if I go… I’ll have to spend my birthday dreading the baby talk. I’ll have to be reminded that my baby is dead. If I do anything on my birthday evening, I will have to finish it at a decent hour because I’m going to have to get up super early the next morning to trek across London (an hour and a half) and dress up and go to church for a christening. I’m not religious and I don’t like christenings at the best of times… They are just a reminder to the childless of their barren state. As well as being boring, if you’re me. (I’ve had a lot of experience of church, enough for a lifetime… I admire how people seem to get something out of it, but other than visiting them on holiday to light a candle for granny, I tend to avoid them.)
So back to the call with my mum. She was asking how I’m feeling. I’m feeling fine. Oh and op update (opdate!): the bloody fibroid was larger than any of the scans said. They’d said it was 15mm, then 10mm, then 5mm. I asked if it was changing but apparently you can’t tell on scans. When they got in there it was 25mm! The bugger!
My mum then suggested that they were going to stay in a hotel the night before the christening near my brother, and asked if I wanted to come and stay too and do something for my birthday.
I mean, really. How would I like to travel across London and spend my birthday doing something with my parents away from home and Dog?
I said that it was unlikely. She asked if maybe T would want to come too but he has a ready made excuse and has no intention of attending – it’s his sister’s birthday.
So basically I have a choice.
1) Forego my birthday this year. Suck it up and go to the christening. Leave as early as possible as it will probably be horrendous. Think baby shower x 100. In church. Not to mention they won’t even ask me to make the cake so it will be some monstrosity!
2) Don’t go to the christening. Cause family rift. (My mum said I didn’t have to go but she thought I was overreacting. Also had forgotten until I reminded her that the last one was scheduled during my ski holiday.)
3) Have some understated birthday, like a dinner or something, and try and enjoy it. Finish early and get up early the next day (yuck) and go to the christening.
I’m guessing I will do that. I’m feeling pretty p’d off about it but maybe that’s just a post operative haze.
Sometimes this infertility stuff sucks.