After reading this post over at Road Less Travelled, I got to thinking about an incident after M died, where I had to see a baby.
It was about 4 months after his death. My in-laws were having a birthday party for my sil's youngest, he was turning two. I thought it was going to be just family there. This sil has 2 other children, who, at the time were 20 and 18. Mr. g's nieces. We were close to them before, and that relationship is one that took a downward spiral after M's death. It started in the hospital and just got worse. One of the things that bugs sometimes about my in-laws, is they have these "family" parties and then let the kids bring a whole bunch of friends. This is more annoying when said friends are all teenagers. (apology to all the teenagers out there, but I hope you know what I mean here). Also, they have let this occur when it is someone else in the family giving the party, meaning not their mom, so party thrower is suddenly providing food and drinks for friends that just showed up.
Four months might seem like a long time to someone not grieving. Sil's house has a long driveway. We parked at the end and were making the long walk down towards everyone when I saw her. The niece's 17 year old, very pregnant friend. Now please don't think I am turning this into some rant on teenage pregnancy. Pregnant woman in general are hard enough in these situations, as most of you reading know, and in some cases you can just add to the pot the reasons why it feels worse. (her youth, bad situation, the unfairness, etc.)
Here is how my brain fired in those seconds: 1st thought-Okay, ms. g, you can handle this, you can just say hello, ignore her and try to stay away.
2nd thought-she has to be almost due, you can tell, everyone will be talking about it. Everyone. In-laws are not exactly poster children for sensitivity. I have to get out of here.
I feel tears start and I freeze, midway down the driveway. Mr. g notices I've stopped and turns to ask what is going on. I tell him I have to go. I nod toward her. He finally notices her and says, okay, if you need to go, go, no problem, here are the keys. I ran up the driveway and drove off. Mr. g called about 3 seconds later asking where I was, he had meant to go with me, he just wanted a moment to tell everybody we were leaving. My mistake, I thought he was planning on staying. I turned around and came to get him. My other sil and mil came out to hug me and tell me it was okay for me to leave. They were very nice, but I know they were somewhat baffled.
I won't lie. I was a little bit angry. I mean, someone couldn't have called and just let me know she was going to be there? I've been part of the family for 10 years at that point. I felt like, duh, get a clue. On the other hand, should anyone have figured that out? I guess because it was so obvious that Mr. g and I were still grieving, I just thought it seemed natural for it to cross someones mind. In my case, I have to admit Mr. g's responsibility in that he never talked the details of grief with his family (they don't do that), he never would have mentioned our jealousy and envy at pregnant woman and newborn babies.
Where is the balance? I accept that we can't totally avoid these situations, and to on some level, we have to put our feelings aside sometimes, but, can't everyone else meet us halfway?
November of 2005, I was very pregnant with M. One day, I pulled up to my parent's home, to see that they had the male half of a couple friend of theirs. He and his wife had lost twins the year before. When I saw that he was there, I could feel my concern form. I actually sat in the car for a moment before getting out, thinking about how I didn't want to upset him with my very large belly. I decided there was really nothing I could do, and in the true fashion of the uninitiated, I hoped that since a year had passed, it wouldn't bother him so much. I decided to make sure not to talk about M in front of him. All seemed fine till at one point, my dad called me out to the living room to have me tell his friend what we decided to name the baby, etc. I remember being annoyed with my dad, thinking his friend probably didn't want to hear, or even care. I quickly answered and moved the conversation to other topics.
I don't tell that story to hold myself up as some wonderful person who "got" it before it even happened to me. Because I still didn't get it. Not really. I tell the story just to illustrate that it is possible for people to be more sensitive to us, even if they have no idea what we are going through. It isn't too much to ask of them not to flaunt their fertility or living babies, or expect us to coo and gawk endlessly at their wonderful children, or to be interested in their thriving pregnancies. Why is this so hard for people? And what is a good balance?