Friday, February 1, 2008

We Are Family (Or Not)

I am having a very difficult time with my family.

They do not understand what I am going through. Or they do not care. Since they do not communicate with me about our struggle, I have no idea which applies.

My dad tells me to relax. Still, after all these treatments. I explain again and again that I have a medial condition. He refuses to believe it.

My sister has three children and knows that we've been trying for 2 years. My brother has two children and knows that we've been trying for 2 years. But both my brother and sister have acted like I have leprosy. They will not talk to me about our treatments, or ask how I am, or simply say "I'm thinking of you."

When we had our IVF cycle, no one from my family called to wish me luck before the retrieval. No one called to see how things were going. We were alone.

Then, after it failed, no one called. Well, my sister called and never mentioned the IVF. My brother never called. When he finally did - after the new year - I told him that I was very angry with him and asked how he could not even call or mention our situation. He said "I just don't know what to say."

My mom, bless her heart, is the only one who tries to understand. But she has not always understood and I think possibly does not truly understand the depths of our pain.

If I had cancer or some other medical problem, I assume (maybe I'm wrong on this one too) that my family would be here for me. They would be so very sorry and say "what can we do" and "we're thinking of you and we love you." Damn, they might even travel to see me.

But not with infertility. I guess we are supposed to go this one alone.

The thing is, all I really, really want from them is for them to tell me they are thinking of me. Or read up on our procedures. Give us a kind word, or a small gesture. Is that too much to ask?

Apparently it is.


Denise said...

I'm so sorry your family isn't being supportive. It took awhile for mine to get on board and I found the more I talked to them about it, the more they realized it was okay to talk to me about it. I think they are sometimes afraid to bring it up because they know it is painful. Maybe it would be helpful to be totally up front and honest and tell them exactly what you need from them?

This worked with my family, but not so much with one of my best friends. She still says she "doesn't know what to say to me" and calls me only to talk about her problems (even on the morning of our transfer while we were on the way to the clinic!). I think the best you can do is be honest with people, ask them for the kind of support you want, and if they can't provide the support you need, try to find it elsewhere (i.e. from us). You don't have to go through this alone.

Tracy said...

I don't suppose this will make you feel better, but I think this is very, very normal. It's an uncomfortable subject for many people. My family and my husband's family as well. They just don't know what to say, so they say nothing. It's unfortunate, and painful.

And I agree with everything that Denise said...we're hear if you need an ear or a cyber-shoulder.

lifefromhere said...

angela, I'm sorry you haven't been more supported. especially since you've opened up and tried to let them in, which to me is always an opportunity or request for support. my brothers are pretty much the same way. one will totally avoid the situation. the other should know better (SIL#1 was i/f and they did IVF and tried to adopt before divorcing...). but even he will only ask very very rarely and then ruins it by injecting his own values instead of just being there.

we always expect more from the people we love. but expectations have usually let me down. no doubt about it, this is an isolating, alienating experience.

(hmmm, now you've got me thinking about why I don't really tell anyone and I think maybe it's because I'm tired of not being supported yet having the expectation for ore. interesting...)

I agree with denise, you can only be honest with people and hope they get what you need from them. keep calling your brother out like you did before. you can't change people, but at least you can be clear. ~luna

Ally said...

I am so sorry you are feeling unsupported and uncared-for by your family. It's heartbreaking when you need their support the most and it seems as if they are unable or unwilling to give it.

Along with what Tracy and Denise said, I do think this is pretty common. People will oftentimes not say anything when they don't know what to say. They think it will be for the best because that way they won't run the risk of hurting your feelings. Little do they know that we crave and need their verbal support so very much.

Do try and tell them what kind of support you need. Be specific. Model it for them. And breathe through the moments when you want to throttle them because they don't just "get it." I have great hope that they will learn how to do this better for you. You deserve it. And, to echo your previous commenters, if your family can't give you the support you need, I am here for you. We all are.

Shelli said...

I could have written this word for word. I am sorry you are feeling that you are not getting the suport you need. I know it hurts.

I think people generally feel uncomfortable around someone experiencing infertility because they often do not know how we want them to treat us.

It does get annoying, feeling like you are always on the wrong side and the outcast. The hard lesson I've learned over the last (almost 3 years) has been if I don't tell people I feel alienated by them, they will never be able to change their behavior, and I am left feeling resentful.

It's hard, hon. I know it.

Eva said...

I'm so sorry. My mom never got it, or understood about other things, either. It's very frustrating. But it's not some reflection on you. As you can see from the other comments, unfortunately many people can't seem to be compassionate about this issue.

Melanie said...

I also have to, unfortunately, agree with what everyone else has written. Both of our families were supportive, but totally at arms length. Granted, no one really knew what was going on in great detail because we have a lot of trust issues (to put it mildly), and we chose not to share everything. It sucks to have to edit yourself depending on who you are talking to!
I guess I am fortunate in kind of a wierd, twisted way, because my sister also did IVF. At least we have each other and we understand what the other has gone through. Our families? Not so much...
I know we are all just getting to know each other, but we are here for you! Keep talking and writing, and we will listen and support...

Lisa said...

It stinks when someone you'd like support from, need support from, just can't get over his or her feelings of discomfort to actually reach out and offer it -- even just a little bit. I'm so sorry your family isn't stepping up to the plate.