Thoughtful ThursdayLast week we talked about some revelations about my family history of infertility.

One thing I learned was that my aunt, the child who came after 6 years of my grandparents’ secondary infertilty, carries a name that is a reminder of the family-building struggles. It seems that after many years of trying for #2, including going to doctors who told my grandmother that all it took to make a baby was a man and a woman in the same house, they decided to pursue adoption. In the middle of the adoption process, they finally got pregnant again (proving that untrue old wives’ tale).

The name they chose for the baby was the name of their adoption caseworker! They picked the name because they liked it, but I wonder how often the name itself reminded them of how hard they had to try to have that second baby.

In my own life, even if I wanted to forget my infertility — which I wouldn’t — I have a constant reminder: twins. I suppose that if I had one baby I might be able to go a day here or there without thinking about IF, but because I have twins, I think about how they were created every single day… and a stranger asks me about their origins almost as often.

My other constant reminder: the huge hole in our bank account.

Do you have any ever-present reminders of your family-building struggles?

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Thoughtful ThursdayI just had a chance to spend a few days with my grandmother. These few days were the most time I ever spent alone with her. I grew up halfway across the country from her, so I only saw her every couple of years. As an adult I’ve seen her even less often. I had a great time hanging out with her and the twins, and we did a lot of talking.

In one of the first ever Thoughtful Thursdays, I looked for clues about infertility in the family tree.

My father comes from a big family. Not big as in can’t-remember-everyone’s-name big like my mom’s family, but big enough. Four kids. Spread over almost 20 years (clue #3). With as much as 7 years separating siblings (clue #4). Infertility? Losses? Both? Very suspicious.

During this visit, I felt like if I ever wanted to find out the truth about infertility on that side of the family, it was now or never. I didn’t ask outright; instead, I left openings a few times. “What was it like to have kids who were 7 years apart?” “That’s a long time to be an only child.”

At first, she didn’t take the bait. And then she did. I learned more than I ever expected! Years of trying, ineffectual doctors, starting the adoption process… fascinating stuff. I am so glad that I asked (albeit without really asking).

What question do you wish that you could ask a relative? If they are still around, why haven’t you asked?

Thoughtful ThursdaySorry to be late posting Thoughtful Thursday this week. I spent Thursday on planes and in airports, then Friday I had limited computer access.

I’ve never been this late posting Thoughtful Thursday before, but a couple of times I’ve posted on Friday instead of Thursday. Whenever that happens, I receive a handful of comments and emails asking if I’m okay. While I appreciate the concern, it also amuses me. Personally I’m not quick to worry when anyone is late, whether with a blog post or an in-person appearance. Plenty of people in my life are quick to worry, though — my mother, my mother-in-law, and my other mother-in-law are at the top of the list.

I’m even less likely to worry when dealing with someone who has a tendency toward tardiness. One of my husband’s friends is so perpetually late that we’ve established a rule: take the time the guy says he will show up and add 90 minutes. It’s like he lives in his own time zone. We call it Edgar Time.

Though he’s no Edgar, my husband is not great at estimating time. If he says he’ll be there in 20 minutes, it will probably be 45. I don’t start to worry unless he’s more than an hour and a half late.

His mother, though, is quick to worry and slow to figure out lateness patterns. If we’re 10 minutes late she starts to freak out and calls all of our numbers. We usually arrive before she starts calling the hospitals and morgues. DH finally set her straight by having a talk with her about the odds. What are the odds that he’s lying in a ditch by the side of the road? Very small. What are the odds that he’s going to be late? Almost 100%. If a very punctual person is late there might be cause to worry, but with some people, worry would be better replaced with exasperation.

How quick are you to assume the worst when someone is late?

Reality

May 10, 2010

Mekate just wrote a post wondering when her pregnancy will truly feel real.

For me it was so incremental, or rather it happened in fits and starts. Every time I would see the fetuses on ultrasound it would become a little more real. It felt more real once strangers started noticing that I was pregnant (which didn’t happen until almost the time I went on bedrest, so I didn’t get much of it). It was decidedly more real once I reached viability. It was all too real when I was in an ambulance trying to stop preterm labor, and when I was drugged up attached to catheters and IVs.

But it wasn’t really real until the birth, the moment I heard Burrito cry.

I have moments of unreality still, when I wonder if they really are mine. I mean, I know they are, and Tamale looks just like me (and Burrito looks just like DH) so who else’s babies could they be, but in a cosmic sense I wonder how they ever got here, how my luck finally changed.

A few days ago I took them for a walk and an unfamiliar neighbor was in his yard gardening. For a moment I felt like I was playing house, as if I was babysitting someone else’s kids and he might see us and haha mistake me for their mother. Like when DH’s siblings were little and people would mistake them for our kids. “I hope that neighbor looks at us and thinks that these are my babies.”

What I don’t know is whether this unreality is exclusive to those who had trouble becoming parents, or whether everyone feels this way. “You may tell yourself this is not my beautiful house; You may tell yourself this is not my beautiful wife.” Maybe everyone feels like they’re playing house sometimes. Maybe everyone has a hard time assuming new identities: grown-up, single person, married person, TTC person, infertile person, pregnant person, parent person.

Or maybe it’s just us.

(And don’t get me started on Mother’s Day. All I will say, to those with and without children, with and without mothers: I hope your Mother’s Day didn’t suck.)

Thoughtful Thursday

Welcome to May’s Intelligentsia, the people who commented on every Thoughtful Thursday post for the month of April.

#16: Wiseguy from Woman Anyone?
#12: Photogrl from Not the Path I Chose
#10: Lost In Translation from We Say IVF, They Say FIV
#7: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#6: A from Are You Kidding Me?
#5: Stacie from Heeeeere Storkey, Storkey!

Thoughtful ThursdayA few days ago I spent time with a handful of people at the home of a new baby and her parents. At one point, the husband chastised his wife for having left the baby in the bathtub earlier in the week. She defended herself that it was only for a minute to run upstairs and get an article of clothing.

My husband and I, two of the least judgmental people around, both had the same internal reaction:

What the hell is wrong with you?

Before we could say anything, someone else in the group chastised her. “You really shouldn’t do that. You can’t leave her alone in the bath for even a second.” When she tried to explain herself, he reiterated, “You cannot ever leave a baby alone in the bathtub.” I think she got the message. I hope she got the message.

If that fellow hadn’t spoken up, I’m not sure what I would have done. People ask me for advice often, but unless I’m asked, I don’t like to give unsolicited advice. There was a clear safety issue in this case, but even so, I’m not in the habit of walking into someone’s house and telling them that they have done something horrible. The fact that the husband was calling her out in front of other people indicated that he knew she was wrong, and perhaps he was trying to garner support in an effort to convince her. In a way, he was soliciting advice on her behalf.

Part of the reason I don’t care for unsolicited advice is that it tends not to go over well. People are rarely receptive. It also creates a dynamic where the advice-giver seems to be acting superior, which is no fun for anyone. Furthermore, in many cases unsolicited advice isn’t even correct or helpful. The people who give the most advice seem to be the ones least qualified to do so.

The exception to my rule about not giving unsolicited advice is my mother. Although she often protests, she has also expressed appreciation that I “talk some sense into her.”

With DH, I have gotten less and less bossy over time. Sometimes I ask him to do something or I give him tips for optimizing efficiency or improving technique — how to put on a diaper to prevent leaks, or how to cut the core out of an apple without throwing away too much edible fruit. Recently he thanked me for the way that I gently offer constructive suggestions. It’s only taken me a decade and a half to perfect.

What is your stance on giving unsolicited advice? In what situations do you give advice that people haven’t asked for, and when do you keep your opinions to yourself?