As I begin to write this completely unexpected blog entry, I am still in a state of utter shock. Many of you that read my blog have endured the difficult struggle of infertility. You best understand the ups and downs of this struggle. One of our most challenging struggles is opening up about our infertility to our family and friends. I am not sure about you, but for a long time, I was extremely ashamed of the difficulties my husband and I were having trying to conceive our first child. When I decided to finally open up to my friends and family about our struggles, they were extremely supportive. Was I surprised by their support? Absolutely not! I always knew in the back of my head that I had an amazing team behind me, I just needed to get over my own insecurities about our situation.
My family has always had their ups and downs. Growing up my parents had their differences with the grandparents and aunts and uncles. We went long periods of times without talking to some of our aunts and uncles. I was never able to meet my paternal grandfather because he and my father had a huge falling out before I was born. He ended up passing away in 1992, and my father was never able to reconcile with him. It was terrible not being able to have the opportunity to get to know my cousins. There were so many moments that my siblings and I have missed out on because of disagreements that were had among the adult family members. I swore to myself, no matter the differences I have with my family and my in laws, I would never remove them from our children’s lives. When looking at the full picture, I will always choose to have them with me in my life then to experience life without them.
My siblings and I have always got a long very well. Especially when we reached adult years. Any time that any of us needed help, the others were there. My sister and I can go long periods of time without talking, but I know without a doubt, she would be there for me. My brother and I were very close….we were in each others weddings. I always thought my siblings and I were the exception to our family…..that no matter what the issue is, we could make it through it. We are all in our 30’s now, and never once did we stop talking to one another.
One of the greatest moments of my life, was when my niece was born. I was so overjoyed for my brother and his wife. I never knew it was possible to love someone instantly until I held my niece for the first time. She was so tiny, so precious, so perfect. She was born into a family that had so much love for her. I enjoyed being a part of her life, watching her grow and become her own person.
For the first couple of years, I was a big part of her life. My husband and I would frequently watch her, for two years, I happily gave up my spring break to help them out by watching her. I enjoyed going with them to playgrounds, to watch my brother play hockey, to story time. I would even stop over their house to just hang out with their family.
As the years progressed, I noticed that they were becoming more and more distant. I’d call to see if my sister in law wanted to get lunch with my niece, and she would simply tell me that they were busy. She’d say “Well Shannon, A is a busy girl”. She was busy with my sister in laws friends and their children. In a way it hurt, because my sister in law was one of the top people that I confided in with our struggles with infertility. For a minute, and only a minute, I thought, well if I had a child, would I be able to see my niece more.
I began to notice a trend with my brother and sister in law. The only times that they texted or called me was if they needed me to babysit my niece. I love my niece, and I love spending time with her, so I frequently said yes. There were times that my husband and I had plans, but we changed them in order to watch my niece. I never minded babysitting, however, I only saw my niece, I didn’t get to see my brother and his wife. As this pattern continued, I began to notice a growing distance that was occurring between us.
Early on in my nieces life, I was a huge benefit for them. I bought my niece gifts, was available to babysit whenever they needed me. When I babysat, I came to their house, and stayed as late as they needed me. I would get text messages from them about gifts to buy my niece….they were always “Just Joking” texts though. Bottom line, they saw value in us because they saw value in what we could do for them.
Last year we began intense fertility treatment, merged high schools, rewrote and entire years worth of Biology curriculum, dealt with failed IVF, found out I had diminished ovarian reserve, husband broke his knee, and many more crazy things. This year, we began the donor process, worked extra hours to pay for donor egg ivf, I had four students and one coworker pass away……I had some pretty heart breaking year. I’ll admit, that I had difficulty coping with the heavy losses that occurred. There were times that I had to pull over while driving because the crying became too much.
I was able to make it through the difficult times with the support of my family and friends. Yes I went months without talking, but it wasnt just to my brother and his family, it was to everyone. I needed time to regroup. My students needed me, and if I wasn’t focused, I couldn’t do right by them. In the back of my head, I always thought that my friends and especially my family would understand. Apparently a storm was brewing that I was completely unaware of.
My sister in law, like most of America, is very active on facebook. There are always weekly posts of my niece that includes events or activities that she took part of. It was shortly after christmas that my family noticed that she wasn’t posting on facebook…..going weeks….maybe even a month without posting. My mom asked me if I thought it was a bit odd. She completely did a 180 in her social media activity. I told my mom “Well, she’s having bad morning sickness with her second pregnancy, and has a 3 year old to take care of. Maybe she doesn’t have the time.” I truly believed that! Why would I believe anything else. We had a good relationship with them…..nothing led us to believe that there was anything else going one.
My sister in law was scheduled for a C-section in early June. A couple of days before her surgery, they told us that they didn’t want anyone to come and visit them in the hospital. They said that this time around, her room was too small, and that she didn’t want a lot of people crammed in her small room. I will admit, that I thought it was a bit odd, however, she was the one having major surgery. I respected her choice, and figured, I would meet my nephew in the next few days. When they returned home from the hospital and we wanted to see our nephew for the first time we received the following reasons why we couldn’t come over:
Day 1: We are still getting settled in.
Day 2: It was a crazy night….still getting settled in as a family.
Day 3: My niece was having a temper tantrum about going down for a nap.
Day 4: They were going to Target.
They were not just keeping me away from meeting my nephew, they were also preventing my mother, the grandmother, from meeting her grandson. We were only sent a few pictures of my nephew. Every picture that they sent us, were also pictures posted immediately on their facebook page.
My sister in law requested to be friends with my mom’s sister on facebook. One day my aunt mentioned to my mom that there were a ton of pictures posted of the baby on facebook…..that my sister in laws family were seen in pictures at the hospital. What my family and I came to realize, is that they intentionally blocked us from seeing pictures of our niece and nephew on facebook. We were absolutely STUNNED, SHOCKED, BAFFLED! One would assume that a huge argument would have occurred in order for them to do this to us….but NOTHING!
I immediately said something to my brother about it….I tried to keep everything calm…but he came at me yelling! I think he started screaming as soon as I picked up the phone. He basically said that I was a horrible aunt….that I dont make time to call my niece…..my head is so far up my butt and I am so self absorbed in my own life.
I will totally admit that I wasn’t the best at communicating but neither are they! I tried to explain that the phone works both ways, and if he was that upset with me, why didn’t he call me. He kept saying that this wasn’t about him, it was about his 4 year old daughter. That I need to call her, that she doesn’t know how to use a phone and he is not going to put this on her. However, as a parent, why couldn’t he call me for her?
I tried to explain that I would love to do more things with her….like go to the park, go swimming, go to the zoo. His response was that those activities are just for him and his family. That my time with her was to be spent being at their house, playing with her, and baby sitting her. I don’t mind babysitting, I love spending time with my niece, but I also want a relationship with my brother.
During our conversation, I opened up with him about our donor egg journey that began in late December 2014. I tried to explain how stressed my husband and I were, and how we went through a lot of ups and downs with the process. When we finally found our final donor, everything happened really fast. I shared with him that I had a chemical pregnancy in late May, and how heart broken I was to have that much prayed for pregnancy taken away from me so quickly.
His response, “Donor eggs and IVF mean nothing to my four year old daughter”.
I know it means nothing to a four year old, but it should mean something to my BROTHER! A person that knew how much this meant to my husband and me. I don’t know why I am surprised by their lack of empathy for our situation. When my first IVF failed, I shared with them that we were looking into adoption. Now keep in mind, adoption may be our only hope to become parents….. My sister in laws response was “well a lot of the kids at my school are adopted and look at all the problems that they have. Also, look at my aunts three little girls, they have so many issues. I should have known then……..
After our conversation, I began to realize that something has happened. These two do not want a relationship with me and my husband. They don’t love us….they don’t care for us…..they don’t even like us. He made it perfectly clear that he only wanted to maintain a relationship with me and my niece.
It breaks my heart to pieces……for two people to have such venom towards their family. I was more than willing to get over things and let time heal the wounds. But the hateful things that my sister in law said about our family, I am not sure if you can undo that. She went as far as to post on her facebook that my family is playing games and refuse to see my nephew?!? She even told my sister that they are going to tell my niece that my sister and possibly me are dead.
I never shared my blog with my friends and family…..so the people that read this are people that do not know my brother and his wife. I am not at all for putting people on blast to our mutual friends and family members on facebook. My purpose of writing this is for an outlet, and I figured maybe other women that are struggling with infertility can offer advice. It breaks my heart to be going through this situation, especially since I didn’t see it coming.
Thank you for reading!