Family Reactions

Infertility is such a complicated topic, with medical, emotional, financial, and geneaological implications, that everybody reacts to it differently. It's very touching to see my parents trying to help me, especially since nobody really has any control over whether the treatments end up working.  They do what they can, and that varies.  My father, who has retired and can't afford to give away money outright, offered to lend us the $20,000 from his retirement savings for IVF, at zero interest, so at least we wouldn't be beholden to the "criminal" credit card companies, who would take advantage of our desperate situation and trap us in perpetual debt.  When I told him that we thought we could handle it on our own, and that borrowing money from family members is too emotionally complicated, he suggested that we pay him interest -- more than zero, but less than the credit card companies.  That way we would both win: I wouldn't feel like I was getting charity, and he'd make money!  In spite of that "improvement" to the offer, we still turned him down.  I do really appreciate his generosity, though.  I'm really glad he wants to help us.  It was very thoughtful of him to reach out to us. My mom had a different idea that is also really sweet.  I think she came up with this idea after I sent her CarrieAnn's list of what she wishes everyone knew about infertility.  It must have made Mom really sad, so she set up an infertility play-date.  My step-dad worked with a woman who suffered from infertility for many years.  Eventually she had a child naturally -- with no intervention!  Mom and my step-father invited her over to dinner, and then invited me and James to come meet her and talk to her about her experience.  That dinner is going to happen tomorrow evening.  The woman is bringing her 10-year-old daughter, who is planning to bring her own entertainment (Harry Potter book) and who we have been warned eats nothing with nutritional value.  I can't wait to be the veteran mother fighting the daily battles at mealtime!  I look forward to meeting both mother and child. In the meantime, my brother and sister-in-law are trying to conceive now.  They must be in their third month.  She has both Lupus and a brain tumor, poor thing.  After her brain surgery (!) and radiation treatment last fall, this spring she has a short window of time when they're sure that her pituitary (hormone-controlling) gland will be functioning, and she has a more assured chance of getting pregnant naturally.  So this is it, and they've started trying.   Nobody deserves to have an easy conception more than them.  They've been through so many things in the last year.  They absolutely do NOT need any more unfairness from the universe.  But you know, they've got this sister-in-law who has been having fertility problems (me).  They have been very sensitive to me, too, in the last year, even though my medical procedures seem so frivolous compared to hers.  Erin took me out for shopping and ice cream the day I was waiting for my first beta results last fall.  I could NOT have gotten through that day without her. So I figured that I should be the one instigating the kindness when it came to them.  We went out to dinner with them a few months ago.  I told them that even though infertility made me sad, and I didn't know how I would react in the moment they'd have to tell me their happy news, I wanted to let them know that I loved them and would love their children, and would be really happy to have their kids in our lives.  I got misty, as is my wont, and they thanked me.  Now I just hope they don't make me have to hear that news before I have some cousins waiting for their kids! My in-laws are the most loving, sweetest people, and have welcomed me into their hearts and lives with open arms.  I couldn't have a better set of kind-of-parents.  But procreation-wise, they're silent.  Infertility is a little personal to be discussing with my father-in-law.  Yeah, too uncomfortable.  Meanwhile, my mother-in-law is pathologically cheery!  She will knock you on the head to make you look on the bright side.  It's endearing, usually.   Before my husband was born, his parents had their first child, who died during birth.  It must have devastated them.  It became such a guarded secret that James didn't find out about it until he was an adult, looking at the family tree in the family Bible.  "Um, who's Amanda?"  My MIL told me (when I forced the subject, in a pre-TTC conversation about family reproductive history) that it was only when they moved to a town with a really high-tech medical center, that they felt they could try again.  They did not want to repeat the experience in another small-town hospital without the appropriate staff and technology.  In New Haven they relented and had James.  Thank God. So to say that my MIL doesn't like talking about unpleasant things is an understatement.  She does not like people to even have unpleasant thoughts or worries.  She thinks we should just keep trying and we'll see that we never had to worry; we were just being silly to make a big deal out of this.  So even having a conversation about infertility is a very rare thing, indeed.  Whenever I have said anything about infertility, except for once, she has changed the subject.  The one time I mentioned it and she acknowledged that I had spoken, she assured me that I'd have my baby; not to worry.  And then we were off the subject.  I was stunned that she broke through her silence! I don't exactly know why my MIL tries to avoid sadness and frustration so fervently.  Partly, I think she doesn't like people complaining, especially when what we're going through is nothing compared to what she went through.  She might also be terrified that we won't get pregnant; she is such a devoted mother to her only child that I can't imagine her not getting a grandchild.  I wonder if the desire for grandchildren is as strong as the desire for children.  Evolutionarily you'd think it might be.  Or maybe the thought that her beloved son and DIL are in pain hurts her too much to even think about. Whatever it is, the fact is that we're not going to get "talk therapy" from my in-laws.  But they are very devout Catholics, and I am sure we have been in their prayers, every night, for years.   So they are doing everything they can, everything they know how, to help us out.  And that means a lot to me. When we get pregnant, these families are going to explode with happiness.  Mom will get started making baby costumes.  Dad will start making homemade baby toys.  My father-in-law will troll the Internet for anything that he thinks would be fun and entertaining for us and the new kid(s).  And my mother-in-law, well, words cannot express how many packages full of baby paraphernalia and clothes she will be sending us.  I'll just leave it at that.