Someone should award me a Golden Globe

Did I ever tell you I trained as an actor?   Well, I did.  Many years ago.  I never thought that my greatest performance would be in the living room managing my infertility status whilst singing “Happy Birthday” to my niece at her 1st birthday party.

That’s where I was at yesterday.  The first half of the afternoon was fine, although significantly, during that time the children were playing outside and their parents, (my SIL and brother), were mostly absent as well.  My brother was at the BBQ and I’m not quite sure where my SIL was…maybe watching the kids?  Anyway, point being, during the first hour and a half the DH and I were in the lounge room chatting with my sister and her fiance about their recent overseas trip and we were doing fine.  

At some stage the BBQ was ready and we all sat down to eat.  There was some chatter about kids but we managed to divert the conversation to other topics at regular intervals to give us a breather.  I remained calm and mostly consiously aware of what I was saying and I stuck to the plan of being quiet when things were getting a bit too intense.  In the past this has worked.

I should point out here that I don’t mean to imply that I’m usually an extrovert.  I’m not.  But sometimes, in situations where children and mothers dominate, I become ungrounded and start to respond enthusiastically, (and falsely) to conversations about babies and bringing up kids.  It’s as if I’m trying to over compensate for my deficit or reassure people that I’m really doing “O.K”.   Unfortunately this can lead to extended conversations that revolve around raising kids, and when I say extended I mean conversations that last for well over and hour or two.   During such conversations I am often wounded, but don’t feel the pain until much later when I realise that I should have excused myself politely after the 15 minute mark and gone to talk to someone else about the latest weather report.   Unfotunately such conversations are really hard to get away from when the group is small and you are all confined to one area, though really that’s no excuse.  I could always take a short walk or a long bathroom break.  No one would miss me.

So at lunch I began to “space out”.  I lost my bearings.  The kids were now with us and my Nephew, (who really is gorgeously cute), began to play with DH and I.  He was really taken with DH this time and even snuggled into him a bit.

Picture this.  We are seated on the couch and on one  side my Nephew is snuggling up to DH. On the other side my brother is holding the baby girl who’s gurgling and chuckling as he jogs her up and down on her knee while he, (my brother), grins at me, waits for my reaction and jogs her up and down again.  The scene is unbearably cute.

And so it goes on…and on.  I really couldn’t tell you the details of the next hour or so as I wasn’t really present.  Somehow I had disapeared inside myself and in my place was a relentlessly cheerful Aunt.

The cheerful Aunt was knocked out later when the sugary butterfly birthday cake was presented.  My brother’s young family clustered around the cake and it’s single lit candle while my sister took photos.  At one point my brother looked admiringly at his children and wife posing for the “1st birthday photo” and cooed “Oh, look at the little family”.  My heart stopped. It skipped a beat.  I have previously thought of that phrase as “just” an expression, but it really happens!  I felt my body lurch.   I’m sure no one noticed as I probably still had the ” cheerful aunt” smile plastered to my face, but inside I cracked and cried.

We had about an hour to go after that, during which time DH and I stuffed down our tears with pink frosted birthday cake.  We talked about kids movies and animation and my brother expressed amazement at us not having seen  “Kung Fu Panda”.   I was compelled to exclaim,  “We don’t have kids”.  The statement was a bit irrelevant and definitely halted the conversation  in an akward manner, but by that time I was just trying to find some ground to stand on. Some way of orientating myself.  Someplace to exist.  I claimed our infertility and gained some measure of safety.  We left soon after, thanking the hosts for a lovely day,  but not before being herded outside to watch the kids race their tricycles and applaud accordingly.

Now….I want that Golden Globe.


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5 Responses to “Someone should award me a Golden Globe”

  1. Esperanza Says:

    You do deserve a Golden Globe. Seriously. I was sad just listening to that story. It seems so insane to me that family does not realize the pain we are in when we have to be surrounded by their happiness in that way. I really don’t get it. You really are a wonderful sister and aunt for putting up with it so stoically. You’re a bigger woman than I.

  2. jodie38 Says:

    Holy God. Oh, honey. That’s awful. How unbelievably f-ing selfish of him (and the rest of your family). I can just picture the scene, your brother’s face while he admired his brood and your face right beside him, plastered into a serene mask. I think a fabulous ending would have been you and your husband shoving that pink frosted cake down his throat with both hands while screeching “what a GREAT party!!! We should do this again SOON!!” You are an amazingly strong, resilient woman – I don’t think I’d have made it to cake, and damn sure wouldn’t make it to another party any time soon. It’s taken me weeks to get past things that were nowhere near as intense as what you just survived.

    All I can say is, “And the award goes to……” You definitely deserve it. And a massage. You deserve a massage and a cake of your own and…….lots of other things……

    I’m sorry you have to keep proving how strong you are. Hugs to you, Cat….

  3. mertle Says:

    OMG–I sooooo can relate! Just keep doing what you’re doing…things just have a way of working out–

  4. Dolores Says:

    I could have written this post myself. In the summer, I actually had to leave my nephew’s first birthday party. All around me were new moms sitting and discussing their children and babies and then there was me, invisible, irrelevant and with nothing to add to the conversation. I locked myself in the bathroom for about 20 minutes crying before anybody even bothered to come looking for me. My husband and I left shortly after that.

    I should also mention, the international adoption agency we were using to facilitate an adoption for us had declared bankruptcy the week before.

  5. Lisa Marsh Says:

    I know that I’m commenting 3 months after the fact, but I wanted to add something. Not even an hour ago, I posted a blog as a guest blogger on how to find support for your infertility. A few of the points really spoke to the situation you found yourself in at that birthday party. My suggestions were:
    1. list the different kinds of support you need
    2. split the list into two columns, headed Emotional Support and Practical Support
    3. Connect some names of people you know to the support you would like them to give you
    4. ask yourself if, knowing each person as you do, it is reasonable for you to expect that person to give you that support

    Are your brother and sister-in-law sensitive people? If not, I’d look elsewhere for your support. If they are normally sensitive to other people’s feelings, ask yourself why they are not being sensitive to you and your husband about your infertility/childlessness.

    Do they fully understand about infertility? If not, someone should be enlightening them. If you can’t do it, ask another family member to talk to them.
    Are they completely clueless about your feelings? How about having a quiet conversation with whichever one is more apt to listen? Perhaps, tell them that you can’t be a part of that kind of get-together right now, but that it doesn’t take anything away from how much you love them and their kid(s). It’s just too difficult.

    How about designating a sensitive family member or friend to watch for your “rescue me” signal? Ooops, we ran out of milk…got to run to the store. Better yet, “I’m not feeling that well. Would you mind taking me home?” Don’t go back.

    Is it possible that bro & s-i-l are making a distinction between your wanting a baby and them having a baby and not connecting the dots? It would be just like some men to think that one thing has nothing to do with the other.

    Last, I suppose you and your husband could respond to invitations to kid stuff with a busy signal. Think how you can manage the situation so that it doesn’t upset you or hurt them. You can control it. Ask if you could drop the present off at a time when the children are just about to go to bed, give them a kiss and stay for a glass of something. It may help you develop some resilience.

    I hope that things have improved since October, and that commenting now doesn’t bring up painful feelings. I wish you all the best.


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