Now there’s a book I’d buy!
Back in the earliest days of this endeavor, Ms. Swimmin came across a copy of the ubiquitous pregnancy manual What to Expect When You’re Expecting in a used bookstore and bought it, figuring it’d be handy to have and might as well be prepared for the inevitable pregnancy, right?
I leafed through it at the time, figuring I’d actually read it later during the inevitable pregnancy. But as I recall, there’s a big section in the book on what to do if things go pear-shaped (as it were) during your pregnancy.
What does not exist – so far as I know – is any authoritative set of instructions about what to do if things go pear-shaped before you even get to the “pregnant” part.
For example, what do you tell your families?
As I noted in my first post, we haven’t yet even told my parents that we were trying to get Ms. Swimmin all knocked up. There are a variety of reasons for this, but mostly because once they knew, my Grandma, hoping for just one great-grandchild to compare with her sister’s dozen or so, would know, and once my Grandma knew, the entire damn state would know, and half of the next state over…and, well, privacy counts for something, y’know?
And speaking of privacy… Ms. Swimmin’s Mom knew we were trying (as also noted previously), as did her sisters. So after we got the first test results last week, we told them what we decided we were ready to tell them: that we had gotten some test results that indicated that getting Ms. Swimmin pregnant was going to require outside help, and potentially help of an extraordinary degree.
That’s what we told them not just because it’s what we felt comfortable telling them, but also because that’s all we really knew for sure, and all we still know for sure now.
And so, expectations: what reaction should a couple in a situation like ours expect from family? Maybe we were foolish to expect sympathy and support. Maybe we should have known that wasn’t what we would get.
Ms. Swimmin’s Mom’s first thought – one of the very first things she said after hearing our news: “Are you going to be upset if one of your sisters gets pregnant before you?”
There’s history behind that statement too complicated – and detail-revealing – to get into here (though anyone with siblings probably has a general idea of the basics), but the upshot of it was that her Mom’s first thought on hearing news that’s really distressing on a very deep and personal level to her daughter: Gee, I hope this doesn’t cause more family drama.
Thanks, Mom. That’s really comforting.
She called again last night to talk more about the situation pry and try to lay a guilt-trip on Ms. Swimmin. “Your sister wants know if she should be tested for anything.” Well, you know what? Ms. Swimmin’s sister is an adult, a college graduate, and has Ms. Swimmin’s telephone number, e-mail address and is friends with her on Facebook. There’s no shortage of avenues of communication, and if Dear Sister wants to ask Ms. Swimmin questions pry, she’s perfectly capable of doing it directly, rather than using Mom as a go-between.
The refrain from the phone conversation that really sticks in my craw, though, is: “You’re being so secretive about this!”
In Mother-in-Law’s worldview, secrets are bad, and being secretive is bad. She has, I suspect, some amount of valid reason behind feeling that way, but “secretive” is one of the big guns in her arsenal of guilt-trip words.
But the thing is, we’re not being secretive. We’re exercising our right to privacy when it comes to our own medical issues. We told her family as much as we feel like telling them right now. As we learn more and this process continues, we will undoubtedly tell them more. But for right now, it’s none of their business, and it frustrates me to no end that Ms. Swimmin’s Mom doesn’t seem to get that. We get to keep some things to ourselves, and her curiosity and obsessive need to know everything about her daughters’ lives don’t trump that. And if she doesn’t like it, tough. She can go jump in the lake.
The thing is, right now, we don’t need her harassing us for details, we don’t need her suggestions about something she read about on the internet to make my boys swim better, we don’t need her telling us what our astrological charts say about when we should be doing it, we don’t need her peering over our shoulders. We really just want to hear her say, “I’m sorry, that’s really awful, if there’s anything I can do, please let me know.” Why is that so hard?