Sunday, April 10, 2011

To Hell and Back...

I’m back from my trip to my sister’s…strangely at ease in the face of tragedy.  That may be a little melodramatic…but not much.  I think that sometimes things are so terrible that they start to blend together and create a haze that takes away the force of each blow.  I should not be “okay” right now.  I should not be hopeful about my cycle and so excited to get started.  I should not feel like my relationship with The Prince is REALLY good right now…but I do.

This weekend was my first time seeing my sister’s “new” apartment.  She is frequently homeless and when she does have a place to live, it always seems worse than the last place.  Driving to her apartment, my knuckles were white on the steering wheel and I was literally praying that I didn’t have to stop at any red lights.  The gang activity was right in the open.  When I got to my sister’s apartment, there was a giant broken window on the front porch…the kind that people fall on and literally kill themselves on.  There were boards over the windows saying “No Trespasing!”  The “yard” was essentially a mini-landfill, and the next door neighbor was a bike thief who had over fifty bikes in his yard for sale and a gun in his waist band.  There had been a double homicide two blocks away, the night before, and one year ago…a man cut off his wife’s head with a sword in front of their young children.  There were more police in the ten blocks around my sister’s apartment than in the entire city that I live in.

When my sister came to the door, the first this I noticed was a tattoo on the side of her face, by her eye -the letter “S” and two tear drops.  Having worked in a gang task force when I was in college and doing an internship in a super-max prison, I know that tear drop tattoos on the face are generally “badges” to indicate how many gang kills a person has.  I know my sister hasn’t killed anyone, but I also know that she, for some reason, wants people to think she has and that she is “gangster.”  The blonde farm-raised gangster.  And now, she is forever wearing her shame and lack of self-esteem on her face.  She was complaining to me that she couldn’t even get a job at the local porn shop and it was all I could do not to say to her “Even they have standards.  Maybe the tattoo sent them over the edge.”

Spending time with my nephew and niece was great, but it was also heartbreaking.  They are so beautiful and so sweet, and funny.  The four/five year old girl is a little adult, caring for her brother and fending for herself already.  My nephew who is being sent to Belize tries so hard to get his Mom’s attention.  She just yanks him around and says “That’s what you get” whenever he hurts himself.  I noticed bruises all over him and am trying to tell myself that they are due to little boy play, but it is hard…I almost yanked my sister’s arm to show her what it feels like to my nephew when she yanks him around by his arms all the time.  More than once over this weekend, he slammed his face or head into a cabinet or table…leaving another bruise.  I want to grab him and run away.  Protect him and my niece.  But I can’t.  They aren’t mine to protect, and it kills me.  Why are they not mine?

They also live in a house that could be on an episode of Hoarders.  The house reeks of their pitbull’s dog pee and poop that gets left on the carpets.  The “dad” who will be taking my nephew to Belize with him this week was so strung out when we got there, and the so high on crack by the time we left, I couldn’t be around him.  I was rude to him, but I don’t have to play nice anymore, now that he is leaving.  I say, cut the BS and let’s be honest about the fact that we can’t stand each other and never will.  Unfortunately, this likely means I will never see my nephew again, but I think that is the inevitable outcome anyways.

One of the hardest things about this weekend was seeing the kids bond with The Prince immediately.  I joke that he is the “kid whisperer” as he can calm down the most unruly child, and children flock to him.  Our relationship is amazing right now because I can appreciate him, in spite of his quirks, so much more when I see how amazing he is with children.  And he is more open and loving with me…as if the kids allow him to be vulnerable and it carries into our relationship.

The other good thing that came out of this trip is that I have come to the realization that there is a chance my nephew could be better off in Belize…if you can believe that.  My sister’s house has garbage everywhere, flies in April all through the house, living on the garbage, maggots crawling around in the filth.  She didn’t wash the children either day that we were with them and they had colds, so they had dried on snot that had turned dark from dirt on their faces and hands.  We took them to our hotel and gave them baths.  Under those conditions…perhaps Belize has something more to offer.  I don’t know how that is possible given the lack of work ethic or responsibility in my sister’s husband…but how much worse can it get?

The icing on the cake was that my sister pulled me aside this morning, because she didn’t want me to hear from our mother that she was miscarrying during our visit this weekend.  I asked her how far along she was and she said “well, I haven’t had my period in a few months and the lump that came out with the blood was pretty big but not fully formed.  This one hurt more than the last two, but it was worth it.” 

Yep…”Worth it.”  She then proceeded to tell me what a blessing the miscarriage was, followed by “I’m sorry.  That was probably insensitive.”  You think?  I want to feel sorry for her, but when she looks at a miscarriage as a blessing, how can I?  I think that was the thing that sent me over the edge and sealed my numbness.  My goodbye to my nephew, niece and sister sucked.  I hugged the kids and half-heartedly hugged my sister, but I didn’t slip her money like I normally do and I didn’t have the tearful “final discussion” with her, that has been part of our bond our whole lives.  I just felt dead inside…and a little angry and amazed…but mostly numb when it comes to her.  I love her, but I can’t even acknowledge that love right now.

The Prince and I talked a lot during our five hour ride back, and he is really upset about the situation too.  But for him, it only comes out in glimpses of emotion.  He keeps saying his opinion, followed by: “Oh well.  Who cares?  Those kids don’t have a chance anyways.”  Then silence…and then he starts talking about it again.  I can feel how frustrated he is…but I can’t comfort him.

When we went to pick-up our dogs from our in-laws (the best dog sitters ever), my pregnant sister-in-law was there, but I was fine.  There was a peace.  I was hopeful about my cycle (although now miscarriage is a fear that is weighing heavily on my mind…my sister has lost 3 of 5 pregnancies, and my Mom lost 7 pregnancies and had one still born).  Somehow, the positive energy surrounding my sister-in-law’s pregnancy, which usually makes me sad, lifted my spirits and I even invited to help with her shower if needed…making sure that The Prince’s mother and sister know that I am okay to be involved now.  The tension between all of us, which had been hanging in the air for months, was noticeably thinner.  It was nice and I kept saying tonight, “when we have a baby,” instead of “if we have a baby.”  Subtle change, but important to me.  The Prince’s mom took us aside and talked to us about the fact that she has a friend that works with a local adoption agency who told her that domestic adoption is affordable and not as difficult as we think it is.  The friend is more than happy to talk with us, answer questions and help us through the process if and when we come to that decision.  I think it is clear where his mother thinks we should be heading, but it was sweet of her not to say “Why don’t you just move on to adoption” and instead to offer some help if we do decide we are ready for that step.  Maybe she does “get it.”  I can’t tell.

So that was my weekend in a nutshell.  We just got home (24 hours after leaving my sister’s…because of our visit with my husband’s parents before hitting the road again).  I have my baseline blood work and ultrasound in 8 hours…and I’ve driven over five hours today with very little and mostly fitful sleep last night.  And yet, as I said, I feel good about this cycle.  I am sad and tired, but there are little butterflies in my stomach that this time could really be it for us.  How strange that it took being faced with horrid child neglect and other distressing behaviors committed by someone I love dearly (Yes…I do still over my sister even if it is hard), to change my perspective on my chances of motherhood.  I need to sleep on this…

Can’t wait to catch up on everyone’s posts.  I’ve missed you ladies.  The Prince was great this weekend…but it still wasn’t the same.   


New Year Mum said...

Oh I feel for you so much right now... what a heart-breaking w/end. I would have wanted to protect them too and then to hear her say that she thought a miscarriage is a blessing... sounds like you were so brave. Then to see your SIL... and hear about adoption - you've had everything to deal with over such a short time. My heart goes out to you and glad that you're feeling ok going into this cycle. Just the word "when" rather than "if' is a huge change for anyone... I'm with you every step of the way until your when arrives :)) Love always xoxo

Lisa said...

Neglect is neglect regardless of familial ties. If there is nothing that you can personally I implore you to save a life and report your sister to the authorities.

My New Normal said...

Sounds like a very painful visit, on many levels. I am glad you are still feeling positive about this cycle though.

Princess Wahna Bea Mama said...


I understand your concerns. Unfortunately, our standards of "unfit" are different from Child Protective Services standards. Where my sister is, the system is flooded with children being starved literally to death, being burned with cigarrettes, and being forced to stand out in sub-zero weather as punishments...not to mention sexual abuse. My sister has been investigated a few times now for neglect and, while changes have been recommended (like getting the kids their shots and taking them to the doctor's office when they are sick), she has never been found "unfit"...even when they are living in homeless shelters (who always notify DSS of potential child neglect). So, while I would, with a heavy heart,call the authorities if it would make a difference, it won't. The only thing that will come out of that is that I will guarantee that I never see the children again.

I appreciate your concern though and understand where you are coming from. The helplessness in this situation is beyond frustrating. My only hope is that my nephew, who is leaving the country on Thursday, somehow ends up in a better situation with his father's family...and that my sister gets her act together once her husband is out of the country.

Lindsey said...

I want to give you a hug so bad right now. I can't imagine how helpless you must have felt walking into that hell hole. Nothing makes me more angry and bitter than neglectful parents since I would give anything to help those kids.

One Cycle at a Time said...

I'm so sorry. I can imagine I would want to numb myself after that too. I don't even know what to say. Saying her miscarriage is a blessing.... I hope your nephew does get a much better life in Belize. Hopefully "dad's" relatives will be loving and nurturing and at least he'll get that for once in his life.

And all this right before starting your big cycle! You do what you have to do to take care of you so you have a successful outcome this cycle!! :-)

China Doll said...

What an awful, heart-breaking experience for you :( Really feeling for you this weekend xx