Tag Archive | family

I’m still here (and photos!)

Wowzers. Sorry for being away so long.

Motherhood (particularly as a single mum) has knocked me around very badly. I truly never expected it to be this hard. 

I’ve been battling so many issues that I never thought I’d have to deal with and the anxiety is incredible. I won’t even bother mentioning Harriet’s traumatic birth because I’ll save that for a different post but I’m sure you’ll want some highlights from the past two months…

For starters I’ve got massive breastfeeding problems – I’ve had mastitis six times already. Three times required antibiotics and one was so bad I needed hospitalization. 

The constant antibiotics gave me nipple thrush which is treatment resistent and has now gotten into my milk ducts. It has started travelling to other parts of my body and I now have it in my throat and mouth too.

It means my let-downs feel like someone is pouring acid on my chest and every time Harriet feeds I cry from pain. They keep treating me but it’s not improving.

Hmm what else? Oh yes. James had a total break-down when Harriet was a couple of weeks old and his treatment of me became so terrible even he finally realised he had a massive problem. So I finally got him to a doctor’s clinic and on antidepressants. 

Again, this is a whole other post for another time but let’s just say he has made adjusting to parenthood ten times harder than it should be. I felt like I was raising two children.

I’ve also been struggling massively with anxiety. I’m paranoid Harriet is going to die in her sleep, paranoid she hates me, paranoid I’m going to die and leave her to be raised by James and paranoid she isn’t hitting her milestones or something is wrong with her.

For the first few weeks I didn’t bond with her at all. I would cry and scream and tell my mother something was wrong with me. I needed so badly to protect her and keep her alive but at the same time felt no affection for her. 

The doctor suspects it was due to the fact we were separated straight away when she was born and I didn’t really see her for the first few days so we had no initial skin to skin etc. It was terrifying and the moment the love finally hit me was just utter relief. 

Oh and it’s worth mentioning once again that my ex got remarried just to add to all the fun.

Honestly I have so many half written posts to eventually finish and publish. And the longer I leave it the harder it will be to catch up and say everything I want to say. Except right now I’m not strong enough and I don’t have the energy.

But I swear it’s not all bad! Harriet is 9 weeks old now and time is flying so I thought I’d at least post some photos to see you all through until I can actually post something substantial. And maybe some of the photos will speak for themselves.

All I can say is that she is honestly my whole world. She is my reason for existing. And she is absolutely thriving. She is in the 85th percentile for height and weight and a very smiley contented baby. 

I love her, I love her, I love her.

Week one

Week Two

Week Three

Week Four

Week Five

Week Six

Week Seven

Week Eight

Week Nine

That’s all for now.

I will try hard to update properly soon.

Sadie xx

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A different kind of Christmas

We’re just a few days away from summer in Australia.

I love summer. I love heat and humidity.

I love Christmas on a hot, sticky day. Everyone sits around on the verandah, because it’s too hot to be inside. Maybe there will be a roast meat like chicken or turkey on the lunch table, but it’s never as important as the cold glazed ham, salads and selection of chilled seafood. For me Christmas Day means shelling prawns and bugs, then dipping my fingers into a bowl of water to clean them off. After lunch the kids excitedly jump in the pool while the adults nap or graze on party food. In the late afternoon there’s usually a thunder storm to cool everything down before the sun sets below the horizon and a chorus of cicadas gently lull everyone into a contented stupour.

Christmas in Australia is different to other parts of the world. It’s our big holiday time. Usually we finish work at midday on Christmas eve, and most people don’t go back to work until January 2nd of the following year. As for the children, they’re off school for summer vacation as of mid-December and don’t go back to class until early February, when they have all moved up a grade. At Christmas time their holidays are still just beginning, so they’re all very hyperstimulated and frenetically excited.

December 26th, Boxing Day, is almost as important as Christmas Day. It’s the day you throw out all the Christmas wrap, the kids play with their new toys, family gathers together once more and most importantly it’s the first day of the Boxing Day Test. Cricket is a quintissential part of every Aussie summer, but no match is more important than the Boxing Day Test. Particularly when we’re playing for the Ashes, and this year we are. All around Australia on Boxing Day, television sets are switched onto Channel 9 so that everyone can keep up to date with the cricket score.

The Ashes is a series of cricket games played between Australia and England. Australia have won more games than England since the series began in it’s current format, but both sides have won the Ashes 31 times. This series is even more important than usual because England have won the last three series in a row. Australia is in a rare form slump.

It’s currently our turn to host the series. When the Ashes is played in Australia (each series alternates between the two countries) our streets become a sea of green and gold, intrinsically mixed with a sea of white and red. It’s Aussies versus Poms as the Barmy Army moves into town. Flags and banners go up in pubs and shop windows, declaring their support for one team or the other. And you start to hear chants of the Barmy Army’s genius war cry, which goes a little something like this: “Barmy Army! Barmy Army! Barmy Army!” (Yes, impressive isn’t it. At least we added an “oi oi oi” after “Aussie Aussie Aussie” in our war cry!)

Have I painted an idyllic picture for you all? Usually the Christmas break is what I look forward to most each year. It’s 10 days where I can just let go of everything, float in the pool, catch up with friends and family, keep up with the cricket score, relax on the beach, sleep in late, go shopping for bargains (our Boxing Day sales are the same as America’s Black Friday sales) and eat copious amounts of food. It’s…bliss.

But this year I know everything will be different.

For starters, we are leaving on 27 December for Malaysia and returning in the second week of January. We won’t be around for most of the activity that takes place after Christmas, or for New Years Eve celebrations.

Our trip to Malaysia was almost perfectly timed. I was going to be almost bang on 12 weeks pregnant as the ball dropped on New Years Eve, so I planned to upload to Facebook a photo of Doug and I on the beach in Penang and accompany it with something cute like “Happy New Year, all the way from Malaysia! May your 2014 be as amazing as ours will be. Love from the three of us!” and then I imagined receiving hundreds of comments from our friends and family all congratulating us and wishing us well. It was finally going to be our turn, and what a way to announce it!

But instead I won’t be uploading anything to Facebook, because my miraculous July baby disappeared when they injected me with methotrexate two weeks ago. And also because I deactivated my Facebook account a month ago, after I broke down and couldn’t stand hearing about everyone eles’s pregnancies and babies anymore.

More importantly, even if I was still using the site I certainly wouldn’t be uploading any beach photos because I’ve put on so much damn weight I can’t stand to look at myself in photos. No matter how much I try to lose the weight I can’t even shift a friggen gram, let alone a kilogram or the twelve kilograms I’ve put on this year. And it’s all well and good hearing doctors tell me “some women put on weight during IVF and some women don’t” but it doesn’t make it any easier for me to bear. If the weight gain guaranteed a pregnancy, or that I could become a mother then I wouldn’t mind. But chances are this dreadful weight gain is all for nought.

And Christmas Day itself is going to be painful this year because I will no longer be able to avoid my sister-in-law and her perfect new baby. Her constant Facebook updates and photos were a big part of my decision to close my account. I’m not too proud to admit that I have been intensely jealous of my sister-in-law, and also unclear on why life and motherhood has all been so easy for her but not for me. All of my other family, including my husband, has made the 10 hour journey west to visit the baby but I have stayed well away.

It’s not just about the baby and my fear that I will completely break down when I see her tiny fingers and toes, and smell her sweet baby smell, it’s not even really about the fact that we were both pregnant at the same time and I should be preparing to have my own bundle of joy at the moment, it’s the fact that my sister-in-law has been so insensitive to me and I don’t know how to act around her anymore.

Do you know when I lost my last pregnancy she didn’t even bother to text me and ask me if I was okay. Doug came home from work and mentioned how nice it was that his sister had sent him a text message letting him know she was thinking of him. He asked what thoughtful message I had received, simply assuming she had contacted us both. But no. I received nothing. Not a single word to let me know she was sorry, or sad for us, or wanted to help me through my dark time.

When I became extremely upset, realising someone who I was previously so close to suddenly had no concern for me at all, Doug tried to calm me down by justifying her actions. He suggested that maybe she was simply too scared to talk to me, unsure what to say and worried she would become emotional. But that’s just bullshit, and also a cop out that I’m not willing to give her.

Do you all remember the story of when my sister-in-law’s baby was born? You can read it here if you don’t. I was absolutely devastated for myself, but I still sent her a congratulatory message, asked after her health and requested to see pictures of the baby. Then I spent hours shopping for gifts to send out to her. Do you think that was easy for me? Do you think that was something I wanted to do? No. No it was not. But I did it anyway, because I respect and care for my family. In stark contrast, my sister-in-law was completely unable to see past herself and her perfect life to support me in my time of need. Why would I want to spend my Christmas with someone like that? Someone who I feel like I can’t relate to at all anymore.

But I have a plan. On Christmas Day I’ve decided I will smile and laugh and coo over the baby and pretend everything is super peachy. Then I will cry the whole way home in the car. But when I arrive at my own front door I will pack my suitcase and jet off to Malaysia where I will sit on the beach, enjoy massages, drink cocktails, go shopping, have sex with my husband whenever I want to and do lots of other things people with children can’t do. I will ring in the new year in style.

And 2014 will be a better year for me. I just know it will. It has to be. I mean hey, it can’t be worse than 2013. Right?

…right?

Being invisible

Last night after work I drove to the supermarket and stocked up on enough FRER and Clear Blue digitals to see me through to Monday. I know they say you can’t see a miscarriage on pee sticks, but I did last time and I’m confident I will again. Maybe that’s just the crazy talking…

The cashier who served me was a young girl, probably 18 at the most. As she scanned each box of tests through the register she openly gawked at me. She couldn’t have looked more horrified if I’d turned up to the store completely naked. I felt like a massive idiot and knew my face was burning bright red from shame.

And then of course this morning I decided not to bother even testing, so my embarrassment was for nought.

I didn’t really see the point in wasting a test. I did test last night, and it showed a solid positive, as I have come to expect with evening urine. I was sure if I tested with first morning urine I would just get that same faded second line I have seen all week in the morning. No darker or lighter each morning, just a lingering display of something I know won’t come to fruition.

I hardly slept last night. I actually ended up taking my dog Arnold into the spare room and curling up on the bed with him because my tossing and turning was disturbing my husband. I go through periods of feeling incredibly hopeless and beaten down, but mostly I just feel numb. What if this happens to me every time I get to embryo transfer? What if I get pregnant every time then lose the embryo before I even get to see it on an ultrasound? My doctor says chemical pregnancies don’t count for anything. Will none of my “children” ever count?

My sister-in-law Jess really isn’t helping my mental state at the moment, either. Did I mention after her baby was born I went out shopping and even though it broke my heart (and my bank) I spent over 2 hours and $175 buying her a whole swag of adorable baby clothing. I purchased things I would dress my own child in. I thought of my own children as I sorted through the racks. I wanted to show her I was happy for her, and was able to see past my own misfortunes to support her. Because she lives 8 hours away I then spent an hour individually wrapping each tiny outfit in pink tissue paper and thoughtfully wrote a card wishing her family every happiness, then posted them out to her.

Yesterday I received a text message from my mother-in-law, who is staying with Jess for a while to help with the baby. It said “How cute are those clothes you sent out!”

That was it. No thank you from anyone. No acknowledgement from Jess whatsoever. I didn’t even know they had received the gifts. It’s like I don’t even exist.

And both those women know exactly what I am going through. Doug called his mother and told her about our beta result. I understand maybe it’s hard to know what to say to me, but there’s no need to completely ignore me! How is it going to help me if my family starts to stigmatize me? I didn’t expect Jess to pick up the phone and talk to me for hours about how I feel or what I’m going through. I know this is a joyful time for her. All I expected was a text message that said “thank you for the gift.” Honestly, that’s it. But I’m not even worth that much apparently.

My husband’s father is so sweet and supportive, but his mother and sister just treat me like I’m a thorn in their sides.

It hurts me because I used to be very close to Jess before we found out I was infertile. I was a bridesmaid at her wedding and I used to spend so much time with her. I really felt like she was my sister and that she would always have my back. How very wrong I was! And to make matters worse she herself has suffered from mental health issues (anxiety and depression) most of her life and I’ve always been very supportive of her and tried to help her as much as I could. So for her to turn her back on me in my time of need is doubly hard to bear.

I was hoping to be able to talk over my feelings with my new counselor, but my appointment for today has just been postponed two weeks. Just my luck!! So I’ve deactivated my Facebook account in the meantime so at least I won’t have to be bombarded with any more photos of my new niece or hear Jess talk about how perfect her life is.

Sorry for this rambling post. I can only assume you’ll see more of these as I make my way closer to Monday….

The post where my mother-in-law loses her shit (part two)

“Kill her?” I gasped into the phone. “Why would I want to kill Kate? I feel awful! You never should have said anything to her.”

I was standing in the hallway at work, trying to keep my voice down so my colleagues inside wouldn’t hear. I’d just received an alarming text message from my mother-in-law Kate, letting me know she was extremely sorry for upsetting me and she would understand if I never spoke to her again.

“Let me explain,” my husband began cautiously.

“No Doug!” I cut in angrily. “I know I was annoyed at her carrying on about your sister’s pregnancy, but that was personal. It was something I told you in confidence! Poor Kate! You’ve upset her for no reason!”

“No.” Doug said firmly. “I haven’t. You don’t know what she said to me.”

“Wait….what did she say?” I asked, my voice dropping conspiratorially low.

And over the course of half an hour, my loving husband divulged to me the truth of my mother-in-law’s opinion of me. A truth that shocked me to my core, and an opinion I knew was completely and utterly undeserved.

Doug had gone to visit Kate and his stepfather John while he had business in Torquay. He’d planned to stay for dinner before joining the rest of his team at their hotel. But according to Doug, his mother had spent almost the entire meal gushing about his sister Jess, who is twenty-five weeks pregnant, and her husband Rory. Finally, Doug said the rage that had been building inside him over the past few months overflowed and he couldn’t keep quiet any longer.

“Mum,” he said, holding up his hand to stop her. “I have heard enough. I don’t understand why you constantly talk about Jess’s baby. You know Sadie and I lost a pregnancy that was only a couple of week’s behind hers. It’s hard for us to hear about it constantly. Can’t you understand?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Kate had dismissed his comment with a laugh.

“Yes you do!” he argued. “And while we’re talking about this, why do you treat Sadie so differently to Rory?”

“I beg your pardon!” Kate spluttered. “I treat Jess’s husband and your wife exactly the same.”

Doug, not willing to let the matter go, proceeded to provide a handful of examples that proved just how much Kate preferred Rory to myself. To drive his point home, he pointed out the fact I was the only family member missing from the photo wall in their house.

“I don’t understand,” Doug said in exasperation. “Sadie is smart and reliable. She has two university degrees, a great job, she bought her own home when she was twenty-two years old, she doesn’t drink, or smoke or do drugs. By comparison, Rory is always in and out of work, he’s covered in tattoos, he drinks heavily and he almost certainly did drugs in his younger years. Why is it him and not my wife who you keep on a pedestal?”

I knew Doug’s words were very true. Rory is a nice guy and we all get along well with him, but he is certainly from the other side of the tracks than Doug’s posh upper middle class family. It had shocked me when they so readily accepted Rory into their lives, given he didn’t fit their mould. Whereas I certainly fit easily into their world, or at least I should have.

And that’s when Kate slipped up and finally divulged the truth. Once the flood gates had opened and she started to talk, she apparently hadn’t been able to hold back. What ensued was a mammoth four hour argument, peppered with screaming, tears, and moments where Kate stormed off into the bedroom to calm herself before returning for another round.

She told Doug that whilst she had heard that Rory drinks a lot and maybe used to do drugs, she personally had never seen that side of him. All she saw was a good husband to Jess and a good dad to their toddler. But she had witnessed me drunk, inappropriately dressed (according to her ridiculous standards) and acting like “tart” on one occasion six years ago at that pool party in her backyard (the one I spoke of in my last blog post).

Doug immediately pointed out it was unfair to judge me for being a drunk twenty-one year old, when he himself had been drinking heavily at that party. So drunk, in fact, he’d burned his hand when he lit a pizza box on fire in their backyard. But she refused to accept that. Her first impression of me had lasted and she’d never been able to shake it. In her mind I’d always been a floozy with loose morals. Never mind the fact I haven’t had a drop of alcohol in over three years and act like the perfect wife and daughter-in-law. I was automatically the bad spouse. Even when Doug argued that this whole thing was grossly unfair, she refused to concede.

Then Kate took it further. She went on to say she was concerned that I wasn’t the “girl for her son”…

“Excuse me!” Doug had exploded, standing up from the dining table. “What the hell are you talking about?”

It was at this moment that John turned bright red, confessed he didn’t share these opinions and quickly excused himself. He must have known what was coming next.

Kate started to tell Doug how over the past few years I’ve changed so much and now she was worried he didn’t love me anymore. She noted that when we came to stay with them at Torquay on weekend visits, I’d sleep in until after 9am (shock horror!) and then sit around the house all day being lazy. I didn’t enjoy playing family games with everyone after dinner and I was always so sullen. She didn’t doubt my love for him, but felt that perhaps he didn’t love me and was only staying with me out of obligation.

“She’s going through damn fertility treatment!” Doug shouted. “She works full time, she was studying a masters degree full time, and going through surgeries and IVF. She’s allowed to sleep late on Saturday mornings and skip a game of Pictionary! For Christ’s sake Mum!”

“But you never tell me you love her.” Kate continued her campaign against me. “You’ve never once called me on the phone and told me you love her.”

“What???” Doug gasped, completely thrown. “I’m not that kind of person! You know that I’m not! Do you expect me to call you constantly and profess my love for my own wife? You’ve never called me to tell me you love John! Does Jess call you and tell you she loves Rory?”

“No,” Kate admitted. “But Rory is a good dad, so I don’t worry about him. Whereas I do worry that Sadie won’t be a good mother.”

And that was the biggest bombshell of them all.

Kate proceeded to tell Doug that she’d listened to me countless times on the phone over the past six months confess to her how I often felt depressed, hopeless, bitter and alone. I’d done those things of course, because she told me how much she supported me. How much she wanted to help me. And I’d trusted her because she was my mother-in-law and has a degree in psychology. I felt safe telling her my problems and deepest fears.

But she’d taken my dark and private thoughts, twisted them, and somehow formed the opinion that I was going to be a negligent parent. She now feared I was going to end up getting post natal depression if we ever had a child, and then Doug would be stuck looking after a newborn and a depressed wife. He’d have to parent us both. She went on to say that once we have a child together, he’ll be burdened with me for the rest of his life. There will be no escaping me, and I would sap his happiness for the rest of his days. That was when Doug completely lost his cool and started screaming at his mother. She, in turn, had burst into tears and stormed off to the bedroom.

As he relayed these things to me during our phone call, I was too shocked to make a sound, or cry. I was surprised I was even still breathing. I was absolutely stunned. My mother-in-law, who I had a cordial relationship with, who I trusted, who I thought had my best interests at heart….thought I had loose morals? Thought I was sullen and lazy? Thought I wasn’t good enough for her son? Thought I was going to be a bad parent? Thought the best thing Doug could do was escape from me?

I was, and still am, completely devastated.

First of all, it is grossly unfair to assume I will be a bad parent because I have been depressed about my infertility and my miscarriage. As someone with a background in psychology, Kate should know better than that. There’s no telling whether I will get post natal depression or not. Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t. The happiest girl in the world can end up with PND, through no fault of her own. PND does not discriminate.

To also say I will be a bad parent is equivalent to shooting an arrow through my heart. All I desperately want, more than anything in the world, is to be a mother. To suggest that I would do a bad job if I ever were to have a child understandably upset me. I am 100% completely and utterly certain that I will be a good mother. No one in my family or circle of friends thinks otherwise – in fact I’m usually the designated babysitter in our group. I am calm and patient with children, and can get the fussiest baby to sleep. I love having my two year old niece stay for the weekend and she often calls me Aunty Mummy instead of Aunty Sadie. I’m not at all worried about my ability to be a parent, and more importantly neither is Doug.

Furthermore, IVF and fertility treatment is mentally, physically and emotionally traumatic and exhausting. It is without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through in my life. Doug has been my knight in shining armour through all of it. We’ve gone through this together.

What Kate also did was speak out loud my deepest fear of all – that Doug would be better off without me. I am dragging him down. I’ve been fooling myself by thinking these infertility problems are ours to share. They’re not. They’re mine. If Doug had married someone else, he would be a daddy by now. I’m holding him back and he’d be better off without me.

I won’t even bother to address Kate’s assertion that I am a tart, or a drunk, or whatever it is that she seems to think. Most young people drink alcohol and let go of their inhibitions when they think they’re in safe places. A lot also do those things when they’re not in safe places. That is something I never did. I never slept around (I’ve only ever slept with Doug and one other previous long-term boyfriend), I’ve never done drugs, I’ve never done anything stupid.

Doug placated my fears. He told me how ardently he had defended me. He told his mother repeatedly that I am the best thing that ever happened to him. I have made him stronger, healthier, wiser, calmer and happier. I have enriched his life in every possible way. I felt proud and relieved that he had defended me. He completely allayed my fears that he believed in any way that I was dragging him down, or that he would be better off without me. More than anything he just regretted his mother had dragged me into the whole mess by texting me her apology. He had preferred I never know any of this.

He calmed me further by telling me that after Kate composed herself in her bedroom and came back to the dining table, the two had talked for a further two hours and the truth behind her truths (if that makes sense) had come to the surface. She didn’t really dislike me. She disliked anyone who she thought had replaced her in her son’s life. You know those mothers who cling so desperately to their grown up sons? She’s one of them and I never even realised. It wasn’t that I’m not good enough for Doug, it’s that no one is good enough for Doug. And once we have children, he’ll be gone forever. He will always belong to someone other than her. Her opinion had been driven by jealously.

He talked her through how harrowing and awful infertility and IVF really is, and she began to sob. She started to feel guilty and awful. She began to realise how terribly she’d twisted everything in her mind. All she really wanted was for us both to be happy, and she understood the many ways I have improved her son’s life in the years since we’ve been together. She confessed she hadn’t even noticed the ways she treated me differently to Rory, but now they were suddenly so obvious. Doug left her house feeling satisfied that Kate’s opinion of me had changed for the better and her attitude towards me would improve in the future.

What he hadn’t banked on was Kate not sleeping all night because she felt so awful and guilty, then eventually caving the next afternoon and alleviating those feelings by texting me an apology.

For the past few days I’ve felt so very torn. I have felt incredibly angry at the things Kate said about me. I am hurt and furious. I can’t possibly understand how she could say those things about me. But I also understand that Kate is going to be my mother-in-law for the rest of my life. She will be the eventual grandmother of my children. We need to maintain at least some type of relationship, for their sake and for Doug’s. I also know she feels terrible, and like she has wronged me. I appreciate those feelings and also her apology, but I desperately wish she’d never involved me in this debacle.

I guess I just don’t know what to think or do. I know that Doug will support me, whatever I decide. I also know from past experience that I don’t tend to hold grudges against people. What I do unequivocally believe is that Kate should never have done this while Doug and I are in the middle of a cycle of IVF. This is most certainly a stress I don’t need. I’m going to take the weekend to think everything over, and see how I feel. I spent the day today just relaxing around the house, and already much of my anger has dissipated. I think I’m still just in a bit of shock that anyone could think those things about me for any length of time, no matter what the real reasons were. I think I’m kind, introverted and good natured.

Doug hopes that time will heal all wounds, and Kate and I will be able to rebuild a new relationship, maybe even stronger than our previous one. I’m still not sure.

Has anyone else had to deal with a horrible mother-in-law before? Were you able to move past it all? I’d love to hear your opinions.

(Also, if you’ve made it to the end of this post congratulations! I know it was extremely lengthy and probably boring, but venting has helped me to organise my feelings on this matter.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The post where my mother-in-law loses her shit (part one)

Something weird, shocking and infuriating happened to me yesterday.

It plagued me all night last night, and kept me from sleeping or eating. It was even harder to process than the fact I’ll likely not have an egg pick up this cycle. It was one of those things that could just change my life, even though I had absolutely no control over it. And it was caused by my mother-in-law.

In order to properly understand what has happened here, I’m going to need to give you the long and boring back story on my relationship with my mother-in-law Kate, so I’m going to separate this tale of woe into two posts. This first one doesn’t really have much to do with infertility, but the next one certainly does so just stick with me here, ok?

Doug and I met at university. We were part of a tight knit group of about a dozen friends. We were all as close as brothers and sisters, though there were only three girls in the group. We did everything together – worked together, lived together, studied together, partied together, matured together. And of all the people in that special little group, Doug was my very best friend.

Doug and I weren’t romantically interested in each other at all. In fact he had a girlfriend, and I was involved with another boy in the group. When people would point out how close we were and suggest one day we would get married, we’d laugh and laugh and tell them how that could never possibly be – we were like siblings, after all.

One sweltering summer weekend, eight of us (six boys and two girls) decided to head to the little beach town of Torquay. It was just over an hour’s drive, and also where Doug’s parents lived. Despite being friends with Doug for so long, I’d never actually met his mother Kate and stepfather John before. I drove down to Torquay in the car with Doug, his girlfriend, and the boy in our group that I was casually dating at the time.

“They’re cool,” Doug told me, as we drove down the highway. “They never had any problems with me bringing friends home for a party, even when I was in school. You can be yourself in front of them.”

When we arrived, all the boys stripped off to their board shorts and jumped into the pool, so I stripped down to my bikini and did the same. Over the course of the day I barely gave his parents a second thought, but did politely introduce myself.

Doug’s girlfriend, not well liked by the others in the group due to her tendency to put him down in front of everyone, went to bed alone at about 9pm. That left just the six boys and myself out in the yard. All the boys were drinking heavily, so I drank as well. We all laughed and had a great time. In the early hours of the morning I found the spare bedroom that had been assigned to me and collapsed on the bed. I slept alone that night, having not even attempted to invite my fling into the room with me. In fact, we’d never slept together before (and never did after that night either).

A week later I met Doug for lunch as we worked nearby to each other. He laughed and confessed his mother had intensely disliked me. When I asked him why, he’d told me she thought I was a tart for getting around in a bikini and flaunting my body (never mind it was summer and we were swimming!) and hadn’t liked the way I’d “thrown myself” at the boy I was seeing. I was offended but brushed it off. I knew I wasn’t what she seemed to think I was. In fact, I was more of a prude than anything else. I rarely drank or acted up, and never slept around. I was the good girl in the group, which was why Doug found his mother’s opinion so hilarious. I was Little Miss Reliable. I decided never to go back to that house in Torquay.

Fast forward over a year later and everything was very different. University was over, half of our group had moved interstate or overseas to pursue career opportunities, my fling was forgotten about, Doug’s girlfriend was history and suddenly we were seeing each other in a new light for the first time. We’d somehow moved out of the friend zone, and were sitting quite comfortably in the love zone. We’d loved each other before, but now were in love. Serious love. Marriage and babies type love. The kind of love that meant Doug wanted to bring me home to officially meet his family.

I was sitting at a cafe with him when he decided spontaneously to phone his mother and annouce we were coming down to stay for the weekend. They had no idea we’d been quietly dating for nearly six months.

“Hi Mum!” Doug chirped into his phone. “I’m coming to visit, and I’m bringing Sadie.”

“Oh…” I could hear Kate respond sullenly. “That’s nice, dear. I’ll make up the spare room shall I?”

“No Mum,” Doug said slyly. “We won’t need the spare bed. She’ll stay in my room with me.”

And that was the way Doug, in all of his twenty-three year old widsom, announced to his family that we were an item.

There was an iciness between Kate and I at first. She stiffly hugged me when we arrived, but did not object to us sharing a room or to me sharing her son’s life. I made sure to dress extremely modestly, and bonded very quickly with Doug’s stepfather John (who ended up teaching me how to drive a manual car) and his sister Jess.

Over the coming months and years, Kate and I slowly built up a relationship. She told Doug she approved when we made the decision to move in together because I was tidy, polite and clearly we loved each other. A year later in a moment of weakness after we’d had a disagreement, I overheard Doug call and ask his mother if he was doing the right thing by marrying me. I heard her tell him that yes, without a shadow of doubt, I was the one for him. I was fantastic, loved by his family and complemented him perfectly.

Kate and I began regularly chatting on the phone, we both helped Jess when she found out she was unexpectedly pregnant, and I was there at the hospital standing next to Kate when my niece was born. Doug began joking that he had successfully outsourced his family to me.

But there were always a few weird niggly things that bugged me. Sometimes at family dinners when I was talking, Kate would suddenly cut me off and ask a mundane question of someone else. For example, I was once telling everyone about a car accident I’d witnessed when she cut in mid-sentence with “John you need to buy more cereal tomorrow.”

Then she redid the photo wall in her house. She assembled a beautiful collection of photographs. Photos of her and John, Jess and Doug, Jess and her husband Rory, Jess’s daughter, Jess’s dog (!!), Doug by himself…no photos of me. There was no reason for it, we’d never had a disagreement. So Doug just dismissed it as carelessness and insisted if someone pointed out to her that I’d been left off the photo wall she’d have been most humiliated.

Nonetheless, I thought our relationship was strong. Kate is a trained psychologist, so I relied on her support heavily during my first round of IVF and my FET. She was only ever a phone call away. She would talk me through my darkest moments. I’d confess to her my feelings of bitterness, hopelessness, sadness and exhaustion. She would tell me I was being too hard on myself, that I was doing a good job, that everything would be ok.

Things got a little weird again after my miscarriage. Jess was pregnant again, and our pregnancies were only a few weeks apart. When I lost my baby, hers continued to grow and thrive. For Kate, the thrill of a new grandchild outweighed her need to help me. Suddenly all she could talk about was the baby. How it was going to be so sweet and beautiful, how she couldn’t wait for it to arrive.

When we found out Jess was expecting another girl she started sewing frilly dresses and sending me photos of her creations. Why? I don’t know. Then she gave all of Doug’s baby clothes to Jess. Clothes she’d saved for 27 years, to give to Doug when his first child was born. She had known I wanted them. It made me bitter and depressed. Doug became furious that his mother was constantly and inexplicably rubbing Jess’s pregnancy in my face and reminding me of my own loss.

Yet again, I bit the bullet and brushed her behaviour aside. I reasoned with Doug that she was just like any new grandmother – thrilled and excited. We couldn’t blame her for feeling that way. She was just happy, and we shouldn’t begrudge anyone their happiness. Weeks passed and I was too busy at work to even give the situation another thought. So busy I hadn’t even spoken to her since early June.

Then it happened.

Yesterday I got a text message from her that made no sense to me. That threw me completely. That made me so surprised I actually dropped the phone.

Hi Sadie, just checking to see how your scan went this morning? Doug mentioned that I had upset you. So I need to apologise. I am really, really sorry. Please accept my apologies. I understand if you don’t wish to include me in this treatment process, or speak to me in the future. Just sending my love and hoping for the best. Kate.

What. The. Hell.

My heart started pounding, a lump formed in my throat and I scrambled to pick my phone up off the floor. The blood was pumping so hard through my veins I could hear it echoing in my ears.

Doug has been traveling for work. He is the manager of a short term industry fund, and is often away from home meeting clients. This week he’s been traveling as part of a superannuation convention and giving presentations down south. He had been at Torquay yesterday. He had seen his mother yesterday.

I started to panic. That text was too blunt, too shocking. Why would I never want to speak to my mother-in-law again? Our cordial relationship, even if it was mostly for show, had been completely shattered. How could I pretend I wasn’t perplexed by her behaviour, now that she had said such things to me? How could I see her again, and smile and hug her and pretend like nothing was the matter? Clearly, something was the matter. And it was definitely a stress I didn’t need to deal with mid-IVF cycle.

With shaking hands, I dialed Doug’s number, hoping desperately that he would answer.

It connected on the fourth ring.

“Hello darling.”

“Doug!” I shrieked. “What the hell have you said to your mother about me!”

“Why?” he asked, clearly confused.

“She has just texted me something bizarre and shocking!” I said, still the opposite of calm. “She is sorry for upsetting me and understands if I’ll never speak to her again??”

There was silence for a long time on the other end of the phone.

Then came Doug’s angry voice. “FOR FUCK’S SAKE! I’m going to kill her.”

(to be continued………………..)

 

 

Spilling the beans

We made the decision today to tell Doug’s mother Kate and step-father John about our IVF journey. They live about 90 minutes away so we only see them once or twice a month (if that). We all get along well, but we’re not close. The distance kills off any chance at closeness I think. We go and stay with them every few months, they live by the beach and it’s nice to be able to relax there especially in the summer time. But they rarely make the journey in the opposite direction to visit us which bugs my husband a little I think.

Doug has never been very close to his mother, but he has relied on her in the past to help and guide him when he’s been down (particularly before we got married) so it made sense that he wanted to tell her. He can see how much easier my life has been since letting my own mother in on the secret, so I guess he wanted the same for himself.

Telling my mother was simple and painless. We’re very close, talk every day, see each other several times a week (my parents only live 10 minutes down the road from us) and she knows me inside and out. So I didn’t have to put on any pretenses, I just told her straight. She was ecstatic that we’re trying to have a family, and also understanding. But because she is so close to me she feels free to say whatever she wants and never holds back. I’m constantly bombarded with “my friend’s sister’s daughter’s hairdresser has gone through 11 rounds of IVF and now she has triplets!” or “I’ve knitted you a baby blanket for when your baby comes!” and sometimes I get sick and tired of listening to it all.

Kate is very different to my mother. She is trained in psychology and works in education. She is measured where my mother is emotional, rational where my mother is irrational and much more likely to do proper research into our treatments, rather than just gain a shonky understanding through gossip with friends.

I was super nervous telling her, so I practiced my speech beforehand (lame I know!) and gathered heaps of pamphlets on our treatment from the clinic to give to her so that she could study them. Then we invited them down to our place for lunch (something I think we’ve only done once in the 3 years we’ve been living here) so I’m sure they thought something was up.

We were all sitting around the table, having had our lunch, when I started with “we have something to tell you guys” and I could see their faces light up so I quickly followed it with “and no I’m not about to tell you we’re pregnant.” I thought it was best to just nip that in the bud haha.

All in all I think it went really well. They were supportive, not flummoxed, and very collected about the whole thing. Kate said she was looking forward to going home and doing research on how to best maximise our chances to get pregnant. She said all the right things, was sorry for the ordeal we’ve been going through but not melodramatic like my mother sometimes can be.

I know I’ll be able to rely on Kate for support as well as Mum now and that makes me feel better. I know it was a weight off Doug’s shoulders to let her in on our secret and he definitely thinks we’ve made the right decision.

In other news, I’ve been off the ralovera for 24 hours now. Hopefully my period will start tomorrow! Maybe by mid-week we’ll be in the full swing of IVF! So exciting!