Revisiting The Past
What feels like a long time ago, I wrote about my nephews. (You may want to go back and read that post if you missed it, it sets the stage for today’s thoughts).
Part of me has always hated that I shared these thoughts. A large part of me in fact.
On some levels I have felt shameful for having had these feelings towards my youngest nephew. As I said then, and I will say again, the fact that we found out about his existence the same night we found out our third baby would die and he was born a few weeks after our fourth pregnancy began (and ultimately lost) is in no way his fault. The fact that his first year of life was a reminder of what we didn’t have, again is in no way his fault. Yet, I struggled to separate him from our losses. The timing, it was just too much of a reminder.
I hated knowing that one day my brother, his wife, or either of their children could read this. I love them so very much, the last thing I would ever want to do is hurt them.
In fact, I’ve hated this post so much that on more then one occasion I’ve talked to Mr. MPB about deleting it. Every time I bring it up, he says something like don’t do it. People read your blog because you are honest with these hard emotions. You don’t typically censor, so don’t start now. People relate to this stuff, and it matters. So, as the post is still there, I clearly have listened to him.
So, here’s the thing and the reason I am bringing this up again now. Our lives have drastically changed since I wrote that post – we’ve had more losses and we’ve moved to adoption. And, our nephews have obviously grown since I wrote this post was written over a year ago. The oldest one is now well into his 5th year of life. And the young one, the one that I so desperately struggled to be around, is now about 18 months old.
When he was an infant we didn’t visit as much as we should have, out of necessity to protect ourselves. But, with time, we started to show our faces a bit more. We started to force ourselves to spend time with the entire family a bit more.
We started to see him as an individual, with his own cute little quarks and mannerisms. These unique little things about him, turned my view of him upside down. I started to see him for him, not him as a representation of what we didn’t have.
With time, I started to look forward to visits with them. The fear that I’d break down in tears started to lesson. The worry that I wouldn’t treat him fairly has vanished. The hurt over our losses will never go away, but he no longer is a reminder of them.
Instead, today, I see a family who has weathered their own storm of losing one twin and today has so much love and happiness. Today, I look at that little boy and I see a world of happiness and smiles. I see a little man exploring the world for the first time. I see an older brother learning to share with his younger brother. I see love.
Yes, there are moments when I look at the little guy and I silently remember what could have been and what isn’t. But, that’s no longer my focus. The moments are fleeting, and I suspect I may have those moments from time to time for the rest of my life. But, I must say, I am beyond thankful that I’m no longer worried about holding myself together around him and inadvertently favouring his brother over him. Instead, I am thankful that today, I am at a place where I just enjoy time with both boys and always look forward to our next visit and their wonderful hugs.
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Thank you so much for this. My sister in law is pregnant with a child that is due a month before the one that I lost would have been born. They would have been cousins growing up together. I’ve worried about how I’ll cope with this baby/child/constant reminder. This post has helped so much x x x
Oh my, I just realized I missed responding to your comment!
Thank you so much for sharing your similar experience. You know, we also have another baby joining our family in a few weeks and even knowing how my opinions and feels have changes as our nephew grew up, I’m still nervous about my reaction. I’m not sure that it will ever go away.
You have come so far since you wrote that post and I am just so proud of you. I’m so happy that you are now able to look forward to your visits with your nephews and that you can enjoy them for who they are. I know it’s still hard sometimes and you still have your reminders of what could have been but your strength and the way that you live your life is so inspiring to me and to many others. Mr. MPB is right…you have never backed down from sharing the hard stuff/the real stuff with us and that is a very refreshing thing.
Thank you so much my friend. I too am happy that I can look forward to visiting with our nephews now, because really they are just amazing little boys!
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This is really nice to read, and well-timed for me too. Next week I’m going to meet the little girl who was born just five days after my due date, the daughter of some of my best friends in the world who are just about to make a cross-country move closer to us. Even though she’s almost six months old, I haven’t managed to make it out to visit them (and obviously they haven’t been in visiting mode either!) so our only interactions have been over skype. I have a lot of trepidation about meeting her in the flesh next week — it helps that I’m pregnant again (although this morning I broke down in tears, convinced for no reason that the baby’s dead — emotional roller coaster much?), but even that can never erase the pain of this living reminder of what our daughter might have been like if she had lived. I’m glad that you’ve been able to come to terms with being around your nephew, and seeing him as the unique little person he is instead of a reminder of the babies you’ve lost. I hope I can be as strong as you. 🙂
Lyra, thank you for such a heartfelt comment and sharing your understanding. As an aside, I also took 6 months to meet our friend’s baby – we actually did this to 2 of our closest friends. They both seemed to understand and gave us the space and time that we needed. I will forever be thankful for their understanding.
I haven’t experienced pregnancy loss. But if I were in a similar situation of having lost my babies while a close family member came into the world, I think I would feel much the same way that you did. And I would feel terrible about feeling that way.
You sharing these hard things is tremendously helpful for others who are on either side of similar situations. It lets people know that loss can create some obvious, and some unexpected ripple effects, and for someone in the midst of a similar situation it helps them feel that what they’re feeling is normal.
We have a friend who lost her pregnancy just after we announced ours; reading this gives me more perspective, and being aware of some of the feelings she may or may not have will make me more empathetic.
Thank you for your honest and thought-provoking posts.
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I just realized I didn’t respond to your comment – I’m so sorry!
I do want to say thank you for sharing your understanding and I do hope your friend is healing well and if she needs space you can give it to her with grace. We took months to meet our friends baby, and honestly the fact that they gave us time and space means the world to us. They are some of the most amazing people we know and will forever be grateful.
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It’s perfectly understandable that you had those feelings in the early days of his life. You were going through so much yourself, and it’s no wonder that seeing him brought out sadness and maybe even resentment. It’s wonderful, though, how things have changed since you wrote that post. You’ve been through so much more since then, and you’ve changed so much. It’s great to see that you’ve been able to work past those feelings, at least for the most part. I’m sure he’s adorable, and of course you love him with all your heart. ❤
I’m catching up on a few missed comments….sorry. 🙂
Thank you so much for your encouragement. I am beyond thankful that I have come to a healthier place around this little guy since he was born – he’s just such a wonderful kid and I am excited that I want to spend time with him as he grows up.
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My niece was the same type of reminder – the entire family knew my sister was pregnant for 3 months and didn’t tell me because we were doing IF treatments, and the day of my first transfer, she told me she was pregnant (I said, “I may actually be pregnant this time,” and she said, “well, I am pregnant!”). I was devastated. She lapped me twice in the time it took me to get successfully pregnant – my nephew born the month we first started trying, and my niece born a few days after our third IVF (the one that worked). I didn’t talk to my sister for 3 months – I just couldn’t. And it’s OK. I felt terrible, but I don’t now. And my niece is such a joy and so much fun, I’ve been able to separate her from the events that surrounded the announcements of her existence and birth.
Healing is an amazing thing. You expect it to happen over time, and you expect to FEEL it happening… but for me, it just happened. One day, I was angry and mad and yes, bitter, and next thing I knew, I wasn’t anymore.
My sister is newly pregnant again and aside from being annoyed at them for accidentally getting pregnant for a second time (and her husband’s third) because they use “pulling out” as birth control (good God, I would have thought he’d have figured this one out when he knocked up his girlfriend in college), I was fine with their announcement. I am annoyed and upset for a slew of reasons (he’s a raging alcoholic who has left his 6 year old in charge of his 2 and 4 year old so he could get more beer, then came home drunk and forgot he’d left the kids at home at all and passed out as my sister was working at her shop, not knowing that he was drinking himself into a stooper and driving for more beer and leaving her kids alone for 3 hours), but none of them are jealousy, or bitterness, or rage over our own inability to naturally procreate, and that was a huge win for me!
How do you think you’d handle it if they announced tomorrow that they’re having another baby?
First, I’m so sorry about the extreme delay in responding. Ops!
Second, thank you so much for sharing your similar experience. I cannot believe your family didn’t tell you she was pregnant for so long – I think that’s worse then hearing that she is only because then you feel like people were keeping a secrete and that they didn’t think you could handle it. Or at least that’s how I’d feel.
If they announced tomorrow they were having another baby I wouldn’t be surprised and i probably wouldn’t be too upset. My brother is a few years older then me so I just expected that they would have kids before. That said, we are expecting Mr. MPB’s brother’s baby to be born in a few weeks and I’m already rather anxious about it – they are the ones who hurt us so deeply with their announcement. I’m not sure how I’ll react, but I’m wise enough to know that the day that baby is born will likely not be a good day for me, as selfish as that may seem.
So happy for you and your determination to keep it going… those boys are sure lucky to have you and I’m sure they will be there to teach your coming little one the ways of their little worlds!
I just realized I missed responding to your comment, but I do want to say thank you so much for your support and encouragement! I am excited to see these little boys interact with our one day baby. 🙂
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This really resonates with me, although I’m fortunate not to have had the losses you had with those timings. First of all I would say that I think your reaction initially was very natural. At least if mine to my nephew was anything to go by. I *knew* that my reaction when he was born was unreasonable and founded on my experiences, both of long years of infertility, my marriage breakdown and sorrow over that, and the fact of having been adopted and feeling suddenly that *everything* in my parents’ eyes now revolved around this new baby. The hardest time was when I was in the process of splitting up and I went for the family visit and I felt like they were dismissive and ignored me and only focused on the baby. I felt both that I had failed to be a parent (as the oldest child and first married) and also that the old feelings of jealousy and inadequacy were coming back. Also that nobody acknowledged my pain and loss. (I never spoke about infertility so they weren’t to know. But they knew about the marital problems.)
Over time I’ve come to know my nephew and the relationship with his parents has improved… I’m still not as close as I’d like, but it’s mainly circumstantial (they live a while away and both sibling and I have long hour jobs) rather than me avoiding them. Like you I’ve developed a lot of affection for the baby. The feelings came back when they announced baby #2, but I tried to push them aside as we knew we were doing IVF. Then I got pregnant and I was looking forward to bonding with SIL and even having some overlaps in mat leave. But it wasn’t to be. I miscarried before we could even give them the news, and she’s going to have their second child very soon.
In terms of disclosure, your blog is so thoughtful and honest and that’s why you have so many fans! I try and keep mine anon-ish so I wouldn’t want my family reading it… I feel like I can be more honest this way without fear of someone I know reacting badly. I can see why you might want to delete the post sometimes, but equally I think it could increase your family’s empathy and compassion towards you if they understood your thought processes and reasons for acting in certain ways. I think it has for me.
I couldn’t face telling my siblings about our loss but my parents did, and what moved me more than anything was their telling me that my brother had cried when they told him. All three of them sent messages and flowers/gifts, and even my usually thoughtless brother (soon to be father of 2) sent me a really lovely, untypically demonstrative message.
For my experience, telling them about our struggles (rather than just assuming they should be sensitive enough to realise) has helped us to heal a bit. I am still dreading seeing them with the little one and the bump and I have to see them in a few days for a family do. I don’t know how I will cope. But I know that in the years since my nephew was born that I have healed and we have bonded… It’s a work in progress. It is great that you can reflect on how far you have come and how much you love your nephew now. You are in a different place. We all need to be kind to ourselves and others, and understand that at any time we’re a product of our experiences.
So, I didn’t respond to comments on this post either apparently. Ops.
Once again, thank you so much for sharing your understanding about all the emotions surrounding the new baby in your family. And thank you for getting it. And thank you for being so supportive. And just thank you for being you. I am beyond fortunate to have “met” you and to be surrounded by your compassion.
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I am so glad that you had a perspective shift on this — you must have done so much healing to get to this place. And that is pretty dang amazing.
Thank you so much for your encouragement. Some days I am actually pretty amazed at how far we have come in the last year, and just how much our perspective has started to shift.
Thank you for your honesty, I can relate so much to this. My sister in law was pregnant at the same time as me, the first baby I lost. I met my niece for the first time recently (they live away), I was dreading it and will be honest I had so far managed to avoid most photos and news about her. She is a year old now and yes a reminder to us of what could of been. Everyone seemed to be trying to get me to hold her and to be honest this was worse than just being around her. She is adorable and it was easier than I expected but I could not help thinking what could of been. It is so good to read such honest posts, because I know I for one question if my feelings are ‘normal’.
I realized that I missed responding to your comment. But, please know that I am ever so grateful for everything you shared and that I do believe our reactions are ‘normal’ for such an atypical situation. Like you, I do my best to avoid photos that will just hurt and remind me of what we do not have and cannot have. It’s hard to see constant reminders. And I totally hear you about holding the baby – I just couldn’t do it. And no-one seemed to understand that I couldn’t do it, or at least they didn’t want to try to understand.
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I think they can’t understand and yes think you might be right maybe they do not want to try. It does help knowing we are not alone feeling this way, infertility can feel very lonely. I hope you are okay, I need to catch up on everyone’s updates!
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An extremely brave post.
Thank you my friend.
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