Monday, June 8, 2009

The step family

Sometimes, my family really annoys me. And most of the time they're really great! Well, at least my close family (parents, siblings, in-laws) are excellent and supportive, it's just some of the extended family I could strangle....

My step-father's family tends to be very competitive and always compares the children / cousins, which is very petty and annoying. I am a few years older than my female step-cousin, and my younger brother is a few years younger than the male step-cousin. Every question is a combination of some concern, but mostly information gathering so they can compare it with their own children. Who got better SAT scores, who went to better colleges, who has the better jobs, better houses, etc. It's really not fun. But in case you're wondering, my brother "won" the in the SAT score category (perfect score, way to go, bro!), I "won" in the best job category, and the two cousins both "won" in the better colleges category. But my female cousin, well, she married "very well", has a ridiculously expensive house and two lovely daughters they had absolutely no problem conceiving. She no longer works, despite her ivy-league education, has a nanny, a decorator, a maid, and who knows what else. So I guess ultimately, in their eyes, she is "the winner". However, her husband travels to Europe every week, so he's never home, and is completely uninvolved in his daughters' lives (or even my cousin's, it seems to me, but I'm not around them all that much). Not something I envy in the least, but I guess everyone has a different dream...

So, when I started having problems conceiving (score for their side!), you can bet I didn't tell my step-family. I really just told the close friends and family that I trusted and knew would be pulling for me. Well, when my brother's wife died unexpectedly, her funeral fell on the day of my second IVF's egg retrieval. I hated it, but I couldn't go to her funeral (of course my brother and family understood, but I felt terrible). It was such a tragedy and so difficult for everyone, so I didn't want to add to the stress and ask my mom to lie when people asked her why I wasn't there. So I told her she could tell people if they asked, which they obviously did.

My step-aunt right away wanted all the details. Then she asked if she could call me in a few weeks to see how I was doing (now - we've never had a phone relationship - purely family get-togethers). I told her that I would really appreciate it if she does NOT call to ask if the IVF was successful. If it wasn't, I would be devastated and would not want to talk to people about it. If it was positive, she would hear about it in due time.

Well, of course she called a week or so later, AND ASKED. It was a day or two before my beta, so I told her we didn't know yet. I reminded her that I really didn't want people asking me how it went. But then, she calls again about a week later! I had already gotten the BFN, but I had no intention of discussing it with her. We made small talk for a long time and I simply didn't bring it up. It was such a phony conversation. I think she chickened out because she didn't ask me, but then promptly got on the phone with my mom/step-dad who told her the bad news. I haven't heard from her since. The whole thing really irritated me.

Fast forward, when I found out I was pregnant, I asked my parents not to tell them (and other extended family) until I get past the first tri. So she keeps asking my mom how we are, etc. Mom just says we're doing great and then changes the subject, even though she wants more. Well, they are going to visit my aunt this week, and so my mom asked what I want her to say because she knows there will be a lot more in-depth probing: are they trying again? when? what are they trying?, IVF, egg donor, etc. etc. etc. It's a lot easier to dodge all the questions on the phone - more difficult when you're their house guest for a week!

So I told her just to look straight at her and say "I appreciate your concern, but [my name] prefers not to discuss this" and leave it at that. If more questions come up, just keep repeating that phrase. My mom is fine with that, but I hate that my reproductive status has become a part of this competitive family's gossip, and that it puts my mom in an awkward situation.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, you KNOW I sympathize with you about people butting into your private reproductive business! What a nosy, gossipy, info-greedy step aunt! I HATE when people are so sickenly-sweetly-phony as though they are SOOOOOO concerned for you. Yeah, right. You have been so polite with her! I wish your Mom could say, "You know, Aunt Martha, I'm sure you can understand that this is a private and personal issue for my daughter Conceiving Life and her husband, and that your repeatedly asking about it has become a bit annoying, rather like a nosy neighbor trying to peek through the curatins. So if you don't mind, we'd all really prefer that you not mention the subject again. But I will have another piece of that lovely strawberry shortcake you made."

    Good luck. I guess you just have to keep doing what you are doing...try to ignore her. I bet her "Winner" daughter with the nice house and no job is not as happy as her mother thinks. It can't be fun to be alone so much. You can't have a very meaningful conversation with a Mercedes, you know? The two lovely daughters are great, but still, a little adult interaction is necessary too.

    Have I ranted enough on your behalf? ;)