Monday, March 21, 2011

Damn you, Circle of Life!

Yesterday, after a successful dose of retail therapy, I went with my mother-in-law (MIL) and pregnant sister-in-law (SIL) to watch the closing night of an off-Broadway production of The Lion King.  The musical was visually stunning…as was my SIL.  She (and my MIL) have known about the fertility issues the Prince and I have had.  My MIL even took me to a couple of post-operative appointments and asked all of the detailed questions that I secretly wanted her to ask, so that she could understand what we were going through.  They also both know how difficult my SIL’s pregnancy has been on me.  And, while they haven’t altered how they are behaving preparing for the baby’s arrival (as evidenced by their Facebook posts), their relationship with me has been altered.  I don’t get the weekly phone calls from my MIL, asking how I am doing.  There are not many family get-togethers anymore.  I know they are trying to spare me the pain of having all of the pregnancy excitement right in my face, but being left out in the cold is also difficult.

At any rate, I haven’t seen my SIL in a couple of months.  As I have mentioned in prior posts, she is a size 2 pastry chef (life is so unfair), and we get along splendidly.  From the day she met me, she was kind to me…none of the weird territorial stuff that sometimes happens when someone is dating a person’s only sibling.  My SIL has always been pretty, but now she has that “pregnancy glow” that you always hear about.  She is still thin (although she confided that her doctor chastised her for putting on 12 pounds last month, as her body type only requires a weight gain of approximately 5 pounds per month), but she has the adorable little baby bump that comes along at five months.  She looks happy and healthy and I couldn’t help but be ecstatic for her happiness…but….

(With IF, there is always a “but”) …but…I got tears in my eyes and a huge lump in my throat as soon as I saw her at the theater.  Everyone kept commenting on her pregnancy and asking questions and, more often than I needed to, I excused myself to get refreshments (the only time I’ve appreciated the disgustingly long lines).  As the production started, I sat there, willing myself to push past the pain…to show them that they didn’t need to exclude me anymore.  Then, the damn opening number “The Circle of Life” started, culminating in the happy presentation of the baby lion cub.  I cried at that opening number.  I had to fake laughter at the jokes peppered throughout the play because I was on auto-pilot, and the jokes weren’t sinking in.  During intermission, things got worse as my nerves took over and I started spouting off facts about babies being blue when a C-section is performed and what I will do regarding an epidural when I am pregnant and how my SIL should have a written Labor Plan to ensure that the medical staff follows her wishes when the time comes.  I actually said the words “You have to be your own advocate or else the doctors and nurses will follow their set script of care and basically walk all over you.”  Having defended the region’s neonatal trauma unit against medical malpractice actions, I know terrible things about what can go wrong during labor…things I manage to keep to myself.  But the conversation was still awkward.  No pregnant woman wants to hear someone who can’t get pregnant listing facts (some scary) about childbirth.  I don’t know what was wrong with me.  Skip to the closing number of the play…when I full on bawled (another baby lion cub being presented to the stirring “Circle of Life” number).  UGH!

Dinner, after the show, was equally awkward and I have realized that, as much as I hate it, maybe I can’t be more involved with the Prince’s family during my SIL’s pregnancy.  I really want to, but I don’t want to forever damage my relationship with them by saying stupid, stupid things and crying in mid-conversation.  Even though they are somewhat understanding, they haven’t been through IF and I can see from their faces that my behavior seems a bit crazy to them.  I don’t know why I can’t shake that panicked feeling that turns my brain to mush whenever I am around pregnant women, but I know that I bother myself, so I can only imagine how they must feel.  What happens when my SIL “presents her little cub?”  How do I survive that if I can’t hold it together during a make believe presentation of a puppet baby?  Some days I can appreciate what IF has taught me, but today is not one of those days.  Today I just hate it.


Christina said...

Aww, Hang in there Princess! I definitely go on autopilot as well around preggos and new moms. I find myself saying either nothing, or totally cliche, tribble things.

And plagiarize away! I didn't think it was a superb email, but it got the job done. I hope.

China Doll said...

You're right.. sometimes it's just crap and nothing makes up for the rubbishness of it all. But happier days will come... And if you don't feel up to being with your SIL, don't. You don't need to torture yourself xx

Ashley said...

Hey Princess, I just wanted to let you that I am in the same boat as you. I have a SIL who is pregnant and while I am very happy for her my pain is very real and present. The husband and I, over the course of the last nine months, have become distant from his mom and sister, almost to the degree that they don't seem like family. But whateves we have other things on our plate to deal with.

You need to make the right decision for you and if that means a little distance during this time, then that is just fine. Do what is right for YOU!

Stay Strong, Ashley

One Cycle at a Time said...

I'm so sorry. My heart goes out to you. I know how hard it was. The SIL I'm closest to had a baby last October and to go to the hospital and hold the newborn (because it was expected) just about killed me. I could feel my heart breaking inside of my chest.

Hopefully they'll be understanding if you need a little distance. Don't feel guilty about it either way. Self-preservation is key in this struggle.

Lindsey said...

I'm sorry you had such a rough day. I know how it feels to see your sister growing bigger everyday, and feeling how awkward the family is around you, or the times when they forget you're there and can't talk about anything but the pregnancy. For me it was so much better once my nephew was born. I got to hold him and be a part of things instead of just feeling depressed and left out. I hope it works out that way for you too. More importantly I hope when he/she comes out you get to rest them on your newly forming baby bump!

New Year Mum said...

You were so brave to go... must be hard to see their joy and difficult to not feel part of it all. I know your pain. Must have been heart-wrenching to hear that Circle of Life song. I'm sure they'll understand if you need to keep a little distance... after all, you need to look after yourself and do what you need to do to get you through. Thank you so much for your kind comments on my blog. Here for you all the way xoxo

Anonymous said...

Oh gosh...I am sooo sorry the evening turned the way it did (and that you couldn't enjoy The Lion King!!) Seeing any bump, but especially one that is within the family is so hard. i can't imagine the pain and sadness you were feeling...*hug*