Dirty fighting sucks.
S and I built some solid communication skills over the 12 years we have been together. These skills and our faith in each other were our rocks as we navigated TTC hell, but I have not experienced the likes of the fight we had last night since the early days in our relationship.
We resorted to some really low blows. The kind you never say out loud. I don’t even know where to start explaining what it was about…her mother, Smarty’s birth, our less than ideal financial situation coupled with unclear roles about who gets to stay home and why.
It was Ugly with a bold, italicized, capitalized U.
Lets start with her mother. Her mother was relatively normal while S was growing up. She’s an artist, very educated. But she suddenly turned in to an alcoholic at age 50. Like, hid wine in her trunk and under her bed. Showed up drunk to my wedding dress fitting. After finally getting that under control, and when I say under control I mean switching to prescription shit people can’t smell on your breath, it was right about when I got pregnant.
Let’s try to put this into a few sentences, lest I ramble on for paragraphs.
1. She called Smarty, in utero, Uncle D’s kid. When we told her not to, she told us we were being unrealistic. When we told her please not to use the word “father”, she basically implied that it was a semantic issue, and proceeded to use words like Uncle D’s “sire” or my personal favorite… “of his loins”.
2. She really wanted to be there for Smarty’s birth. I was really just a baby cooker to her.
Okay, maybe I need to tell you the whole effing deal. Sorry, this is going to be long.
MIL explicitly asked a few times about being there for the birth and we told her that I needed to feel really comfortable, we thought maybe only my mom would be there, maybe not even my mom. A normal person would have taken the hint. She didn’t. She soooooo didn’t.
She continued to ask, and said shit like this with a very bewildered look on her face: “But I have always wanted to be at a birth, my entire life.” And? Go be a doula then. Yes?
Anyway, when I was in early labor Uncle D was over fixing our outdoor stairs so we wouldn’t slip on the way down with our new baby, and she calls and hears his voice and says “who’s that?”. When we told her she said, “Oh, I see. He gets to be there and I don’t?”
Are you an infant? We told her we would call her and tell her when to come to the hospital…not to come before we called. She came anyway. At the time I was very protective about who could be there, in large part because I had to defend myself against insane MIL. But after 30 hours I got an epidural and the bloody, painful, screaming labor turned into me napping with S in the hospital bed. Some friends came by, Uncle D and Aunt NoMoreSpermForYou were there (back before things went to hell with them), and they were all sitting in the little private garden patio outside my labor room. It felt so good to have them there, close but not in the room. We were going to have them all come in when Smarty was going to come out. Unexpected, but lovely.
Cue evil queen music.
In walks MIL, uninvited mind you, and says, “oh I see that other people ARE here.”
She proceded to vibe everyone with her narcissistic pouty attitude and I couldn’t hang. I was in fucking labor, epidural or no, and I didn’t know what to do to get her out of there, so we asked everyone to leave, to spare her feelings.
After Smarty was born, I told my one friend who was there for the birth to go get Uncle D Aunt NMSFY and a good friend. She had to walk past and give an explanation to MIL, I found out later, who was steaming that she was not immediately allowed into the room.
There are more details, but I’ll leave it at that. I wanted my friends and family there and had to kick them out because of her. Granted, I could have made another choice, but I had not slept in 30 hours…not the circumstance to stand up to your MIL. I was angry with her for a year. She was unforgivably pushy, rude, and consistently overemphasized the genetic relationship between Smarty and Uncle D, making S feel disconnected from her own son. I don’t know if I am properly conveying how selfish, blind, rude and narcissistic she was, but holy fuck people, she was.
In the years since his birth I have made my own personal peace with MIL. She is much more mellow, and her inappropriate donor comments are of a milder variety (except that I never ever want her to meet Rocket Man) – more like commenting “oh, what a nice maaaaan your donor is…sticking with you through all of this [this being the miscarriage], can I buy him a gift?” Hells no lady! But my point is that I came to my own peace with her and we see each other regularly. I’m not a walking pile of resentment. We are fine.
I feel like hell will fucking freeze over before I can see her face at the birth of our next child. It makes my blood boil. Or curdle. It brings me to tears.
But S wants her there, partly because of an unexplainable desire to have your mom there (I get that) and partly because she doesn’t want to hurt her mom’s feelings and she knows it will be crushing for MIL to be told she can’t come. We are going to have many other people there, like 3 that I know of for sure (WTF, S’s best friend from high school and a close friend of mine who is one of the people who got kicked out the 1st time). MIL really will be crushed when she is not one of them, and then both of us have to deal with the aftermath. That sounds shitty to me too, mind you, but fear of her sadness and guilt is not a motivating reason to have her present at the birth of our child.
But ultimately, MIL is S’s mom, and S wants her there.
Hence the impasse.
I should be the bigger person and say ‘hey, even though it is our baby this is your birth and if you need your mom, I’ll deal.’ But I can’t.
She should be the bigger person and tell her fucking mom that she can’t come.
We tossed around the ‘if I were you I wouldn’t ask you not to have your mom there,’ and the ‘you wouldn’t have to ask me because I would never allow her to be there knowing how dreadful she was last time and how deeply upset it would make you’.
If I were you. If you were me. If MIL was different. If I was more forgiving. If you had balls. How the hell? What the fuck? How dare you? No, how dare YOU!
I won’t get into the specifics, but trust me it got way ugly. Saying regrettable things that you can never take back. UGLY. Uglier than any fight I can remember in a decade. And this is the 19th time we have tried to resolve this topic. The fight then morphed into who gets to be with Smarty when, how I only get 3 weeks off with the new baby when she had a year working form home, how she’s going to have to go back after 3 months…we were trying to win in a yelling crying snotty game of who has it worse. NEVER a good plan. Never ever. Ever.
Instead of feeling happy about the hospital tour, which was super fucking exciting, we are distant and shitty.
Obviously, this whole post is from my perspective, I know S would write it very differently. She might talk about how much she loves her mom, how hard her mom is trying to change, how she is a different person than she was 3 years ago, that she is distant from her mom in part because she is trying to protect me. She might write about how she presented compromises like having her there only for the actual birth and not the labor, and how she will tell her mom what we need from her (then I say but your mom will still feel left out and shitty anyway because this is all about her and not about you or me or the baby). S might forget to note that her mom will vibe and pout and feel left out if she is not allowed to be a part of all of it. S doesn’t understand how intolerable it is for me to have her there for ANY of it. I don’t understand how or why she wants her there so badly. But S must want it pretty bad because she loves me, and is a very nice, accommodating person. I don’t know what it feels like to have to choose between your parent and your spouse. I don’t want to put S in that position. I think MIL put her there, not me, but see? On and on it goes. Deeper and deeper into an unsolvable mess.
We have never ever had a problem we couldn’t solve. One of us always gives in, or compromises. Someone is more right. Someone feels stronger. We give in. We press our wrist tattoos together and say gooo team.
Instead we are both bummed and in tears.
We have considered lying to MIL like saying ‘oops we tried to call you’, but can’t come up with a really good plausible lie and that doesn’t solve the part that S wants her there. We have each given in at some point and then both of us feel miserable when we think about the birth. We have considered having my mom and MIL both on duty to take care of Smarty, but I know that MIL will ultimately leave Smarty with my mom and come to the hospital anyway, unless we tell her not to come, in which case she will be all butt hurt anyway.
So please tell me there is some obvious solution we are missing. That this is not an impossible impasse. Please tell me that one of us is wrong. I would even settle for me being totally wrong, like if there was a vote and everyone said, Charlotte you are being weak and immature and you need to buck up for your wife. I certainly don’t think that is true, but maybe it is? I called some therapists, and we will go spend 90 an hour to fix this because we can’t fix it ourselves…but I really don’t want to.