I’m going to a christening. I have to go, because it’s for my niece. And I feel generally okay about it. It’s been long enough since I miscarried (last July) that I’ve settled back down into my old identity of Childless Me.
For my sister, who miscarried a few months after I did, also as a result of IVF, and also as an adoptee (the irony is never lost on me that the bad luck just keeps lining up), I think maybe it’s rawer.
I was thinking this week about My Other Life (previous post). In that life I would be due next week. It’s a bit crazy to think about things like that. And it seems a bit cutting to have to go to the christening of a baby when I should have so nearly had my own by now. (Perhaps s/he would have come early and I could have escaped!) But I suppose it’s better than their original plan of having it on my birthday weekend.
When it comes down to it, I think there are people like my brother and his wife who simply haven’t had much suffering in their lives, and therefore don’t think about the impact that their actions have on others. I don’t think they specifically thought “Let’s schedule the christening for her birthday when she recently lost a baby!” or later, just before my due date. They’ve never had difficulty getting pregnant, never lost a baby and wouldn’t even think of my due date.
They also scheduled it in a far flung place in London first thing in the morning so most of the guests have to travel down the day before and stay overnight in a hotel. Because they want to do it in the morning! They’re not bothered about the expense of an overnight stay. (£120 a night… My parents are staying 2 nights.) And I found out that following the church service, they aren’t even putting on a reception! It seems extremely odd to expect people to come and attend and not give them any refreshments, but perhaps that’s just me. (I was brought up religious but I’m not religious.)
I guess it got me thinking about privilege. There is this concept of privilege and especially “white privilege” that’s often spoken about in the adoptee community. It’s the idea that certain people (usually white males) can’t understand what it is like to be not white, or a female, or disabled, etc.
I wasn’t born into privilege. As a non-white female, I’m at the bottom of the heap as far as “diversity” goes. (Although, it’s not a competition and I feel fortunate that I am not disabled as I think that must be more difficult.) At work, it’s a double whammy of being Not A Man and Not White. But outside work I have grown up with whiteness, and I’ve mixed in white circles and have mainly white friends.
I’m not black. I’ve talked with my black friends about this, that in many ways I envy the black identity. I’m aware that black people would cite this as the ultimate example of non-black privilege. And I can’t be black. (I’ve no desire to go Dolezal. Wouldn’t work and I don’t think it would really cut it in the UK anyway, where blackness is different than in the US.)
What I mean is: I’ve been involved in ethnic diversity movements in the corporate world and I’m often the only non black person there. It’s like I can’t claim an identity because as an adoptee I don’t have a real ethnic identity. And “my people” are basically invisible in the UK. I envy my black friends who have these circles of strong black women, and have a proud non white identity. They aren’t white and they don’t look white and they don’t want to be white. I’m not white – I’m kind of off-white, and truth be told, sometimes I want to be white. Not because I hate myself (I’m sort of used to how I look) but I feel like life would be easier to be one thing or another.
Anyway, I digress. This whole thing, the christening, the distance from the loss of PB – coupled by the idea that he would almost be here – makes me think idly that there are so many people who have to go through this crap. But there are so many who don’t. And my brother – the archetypal white guy, everyone’s Nice Guy and friend – can whisk through his privileged white life without ever having to deal with loss. He’s not mean, or intentionally wounding. He simply hasn’t ever had to deal with that level of pain.
And also: my parents who adopted me gave us all privilege. So I’ve had borrowed privilege. I went to a good school. I went to uni. I had enough allowance to rent my first flat. They instilled in me a need to work hard enough to earn my own money and be self sufficient and I did it.
And yet: I’m acutely aware that borrowed privilege confers its own issues. I’m not meant to be middle class. I’m meant to be poor. I was born to a single mother, too young to afford to keep me; too unsupported to be able to keep me. Maybe even too unwilling to be a mother to want to keep me. I don’t look like a white middle class person. To the ones I mix with at work, I’ll always be Other. To my friends, I’ll always be quirky – partly because maybe I’m quirky but partly because I’ll never be able to blend in as a wholesome white girl. I’m not quite anything.
And yet I’m me. All this pondering probably makes me sound overly introspective and sad. I’m honestly not! If anything, I’m happier than I’ve been in a while. I love T and we have Dog and finally things are a bit easier at work. I let myself think of what might have been, and it gave me a moment of sadness. (I almost cried in Starbucks. That was embarrassing. But plus side: I love Starbucks!)
Compared with what might have been, I try to think instead of what Is.
This time last year I was under immense stress at work and now I’m not. (It was project based – so it could happen again, but at least I’ve had a few low stress months.) We are going into our second cycle of IVF in March. I have an appointment with the reproductive immunology doctor before then in a couple of weeks. T and I went to explore a new area and we finally thought it could be somewhere we want to settle, where we could see ourselves making a permanent life.
And I get to see my family this weekend. My crazy but lovely (but crazy… did I mention how my family members are all cray cray?) and crazy family. We don’t get together that often as we all live in different places (and they’re crazy) so it’s nice to see them once in a while. The crazy b*ggers.
Things could really be worse.
I still don’t really like christenings though…