So, we survived our first family vacation.
No, not really. (Well, I mean, we survived. But it went better than I feared, actually.) We took our girl on the Baby Victory Tour, which is what it feels like when you go visit a whole bunch o' family members who have not yet met the child. The kind of vacation where, when you walk into a room, everyone immediately looks right past you and says, "Where's the baby?" Which is okay with me.
We had a few challenges to face: we were visiting my husband's family, several of whom I had never met, and staying with his brother, which is kind of like staying with a brown-haired version of Glen.n Bec.k. And given that I am a staunch NP.R listener, you can imagine what that's like for me. We just tiptoe around anything involving religion and politics, and hope for the best. Good thing we live hundreds of miles apart.
It all started with a spectacular Fail by one of our nation's lovely airlines, which kept us at the airport for a three-hour delay during our first attempt at Flight With Baby. Which meant that we were trapped there during bedtime, and didn't get to our destination until nearly 1:00am, at which point we discovered that our luggage must have been kept outside for the whole duration of the delay, since the pack-and-play was soaking wet. AWESOME. I was pretty irritated by this, until we realized the next day that we were delayed because our original plane was busy ripping its roof open, and then the idea of a few hours' delay wasn't so bad.
A few years ago, this same brother and sister-in-law came to visit us over Christmas holidays. We had been trying to get pregnant for three years. I had just had a laparoscopy a few months earlier. We had done two failed IUI cycles and were getting ready for our first IVF. I was, to put it mildly, not in the mood to hear anything at all about pregnancy. At. All. And my sister-in-law could do nothing but talk about "when we get pregnant," "when we have a baby," "when the baby comes," as if people can just, you know, have sex and then magically get pregnant which of course they can and probably THEY WILL DO IT ON THE FIRST CYCLE AND THEN I WILL HAVE TO JUMP OFF A BRIDGE. We went wine tasting. I did a lot of tasting. Hangover not so tasty.
Flash forward to this past week. We come into town with adorable Baby Girl. They have been trying to get pregnant for about a year. (I'm sure sister-in-law wanted to start earlier, but I swear to you, my brother-in-law is the cheapest person alive and probably had to be convinced that the expense of children was worthwhile.) (Let me pause to say, I don't hate this guy, in spite of the stuff I've been writing here. But we have nothing in common. And he's hard to be around.)
All I could think was, what if they had come to visit us with a baby while we were trying to get pregnant? Wouldn't it have felt like salt in the wound? Should I acknowledge this? Even though my sister-in-law is terribly shy and might not want to talk? But if I ignore it, won't that feel heartless? And be heartless, even worse? What to do?
She and I and Baby Girl went shopping on Wednesday. It was not the easiest experience, but gradually, she opened up. It turns out that she had a miscarriage last month. The truth is, of all the people who got pregnant while we were trying, the idea that they would have a baby before we would was the hardest for me. It felt as if (and I know I am a terrible horrible no good very bad person for this, but I'm sure I'll have good company in hell) their having a baby would somehow validate their beliefs about God, with which I vehemently disagree. As if their pregnancy would prove that their "we're right, everyone else is hellbound" theology was more effective than mine. And I know, I get it, it's terrible. But I suspect most infertile women feel this way about someone, that someplace deep down, you think to yourself, "as long as I get pregnant before she does, it will be okay."
That's long gone, of course. Not an ounce of it left, and all I want for her is to have a child in whatever way possible. I feel guilty about it, though. I mean, I realize that my prayer to "please, please let me get pregnant first" was undoubtedly met by God with a big, "wow, is she screwed up if she thinks that's how this works," but there was a small piece of me, that Christmas weekend in 2008, that wished they would have a little trouble getting pregnant so they would understand how hard it was. That's the part that makes me feel guilty. And all I can do now is pray for them and trust that God is a million times more merciful than I am.
The rest of the trip was fine. Topped off by yet another (non-roof-ripping-off) three-hour delay on the way home, which makes me want to never travel with a baby again. She did wonderfully, though, for which I thank all the moms who told me to nurse her during takeoff. Hats off to you, ladies: you're brilliant.
Bedtime tonight was a screamfest, certainly brought on by a week of schedule-free living for which we will now be paying the price. It's good to be home.