All the Sun For You

A mom, two boys, a husband, and a whole lot of adventure!

The Realities Around Us

21 Comments

So I’m kind of struggling right now.  Things with Hottie, the boys, and me are fine, but the things around us are quite sad and they’re consuming me.

*****

Hottie’s sister is getting a divorce.  I may have mentioned it in a private post a while back, I’m not sure, but it’s getting rough and no one seems to know how to help her.  She did not ask for the divorce, her husband did, and it was hard for me to feel very sympathetic because I really don’t like Hottie’s sister and I really DO like her husband.  His sister is… different… antisocial… rude… angry… controlling… set in her ways… bitter.  We’ve never been “friends” and honestly, she’s a very selfish person who always plays the victim.  No matter the situation, she’s the victim.  She has been taught this by Hottie’s mom, so it’s not entirely her fault, but by the age of 40, I expect a person to grow up and take responsibility for who she is.  She is incapable of doing that.  The problem is, they have a kid.  A daughter… and now this 6-year-old girl is going through all the things that made her mom the bitter, angry, rude, selfish person that she is, and like her mom, she’ll go through the bulk of her life without a father figure.  It’s sad.

Hottie has been asked by his sister to attend the mediation meetings with her because she’s frustrated with her dad (technically her step-dad (Hottie’s dad), because she refuses to have anything to do with her biological dad no matter how hard the man tries) who’s been attending with her.  She is at her whit’s end with their mom and at first, we figured their mom was being her normal, “I hate your husband, kick him to the curb” self.  But she’s not.  She’s trying to get her daughter to see the light, make preparations, plan for the future, and hold her chin up a bit.  Hottie’s sister called last week in a panic asking him to meet her for coffee and they met for over 2 hours and he was brutally honest with her when he heard the things his mom is telling her.  He agrees with his mom (and that NEVER happens) and so do I: figure out a job, get an apartment, sort out your finances, meet with a lawyer.  All the normal advice a woman on the brink of divorce would receive… but she does NOT want to hear it.  She does NOT want a divorce.  I feel for her because that’s got to be just awful, but I also understand why her mom wants her to start making some plans.  If she’s not going to do anything to actively try to save the marriage, then she needs to plan her way out of it since he has already filed.  But I understand that it’s tough.

I’m rambling, I know.   This gets me down because it’s becoming more and more of a topic of conversation in our house because she’s asking Hottie for so much help.  I love that he’s supportive of his siblings, I think it’s great, but she’s asking him to be in a position that he doesn’t want to be in (going to mediations and telling his dad he’s no longer welcome).  Hottie is very non-confrontational – he is a very peaceful person.  Getting in the middle of this divorce is not where he wants to be, and it’s not where I want him to be.  I know he doesn’t like the situation he’s now in, but he does want to help his sister (and why wouldn’t he want to?), so he just tries to not look like he’s in agreement with his parents when he really is, while making his sister feel like he understands her frustrations with them.  It’s really tough.

*****

Our trip with my parents was not good.  They treated each of us sisters (and one of the husbands) with such disrespect that we were all in tears at some point during the trip.  My kids didn’t want to sit through long, fancy dinners (90 minutes, minimum) so of the 7 nights eating with my family, we were coerced (and sometimes told) to leave with the kids 4 of those nights.  That’s not fun.  My dad can give a look that is infuriating, and I saw him use it with each and every one of the grandkids several times.

My big run-in with my dad, and then my mom when she attacked me afterwards, was witnessed by Hottie, my two sisters, and their two husbands and although it was absolutely HORRIBLE, I was glad that I had 5 witnesses to my dad’s attack and 1 to my mom’s brutal, frosty attack of me afterwards demanding that I apologize to my dad.  Let’s just say, every last person who was there told me I was not going to apologize for anything.  Hottie approached my dad and basically told him to take a hike, and my little sister confronted my mom and told it like it was.  I’ve never felt so supported in my life, and although it was truly horrible, I’m so glad that everyone got to see EXACTLY what I’ve been saying has been going on for years and years.

Because of all of the drama and bad feelings leading up to, and then on, the trip, I JUST got around to sending a thank you gift to my parents today (the trip was over more than 3 weeks ago) and I had to force myself to do it.  I had a reminder going off on my phone every 4 hours for a damn week and I finally bit the bullet and sent the gift card today (something I wasn’t planning on doing until my little sister told me that they sent a $350+ gift to them BEFORE the trip even started, kicking off the thank-you-timer and the wild expectation to spend a lot of money thanking them for an awful time).  It still feels so bad to even think about that damn trip.

*****

Hottie and I have some decisions to make in the next couple of years about our remaining embryos.  We know that we are done building our family, but we hold onto them in case something bad happens to one of our boys someday.  Those embryos are our only hope to having more children if we need or want to in the future, but I am turning 40 in March (what the?).  So this has been on my mind lately, and on Saturday morning, I brought up the topic with Hottie, not because I want a decision, but because I want him to know that I’m thinking about it… I’m thinking about them.

I asked him to think about donating them to another couple.  We wouldn’t do this locally, and honestly, I’d want them to not even be in the same country, but it’s something I think we need to at least consider.  I told him that I want to talk about this in a year or two’s time, before I turn 42.  I think once I’m 42, we have to figure out a feasible long-term plan.  I don’t want them sitting on ice indefinitely, but I also don’t want to make a hasty decision.

By mid-Saturday, I had myself convinced that I could donate them overseas – that they are our genetic material that someone else may give life to.  I actually felt good about the idea of donating them.  And then Saturday afternoon happened.

*****

My friend’s 13-year old nephew died of leukemia on Saturday.  I never met him, but I’ve met his older sister a few times and his mom kept the most amazing Caring Bridge site going that you felt like you knew him.  His mom posted updates at every turn for 18 months so when they went silent early last week, I knew something wasn’t good.  Sam had tried tons of experimental treatments and was on his final attempt.  Because he gained access to all the drugs, all the treatments, all the “hail Mary’s” out there, I just believed he was going to live.  There were moments when I thought, “he may not make it, but statistically he should, but he may not.”  However, for the most part, I stayed hopeful.

That’s the thing about hope though… it makes you forget about, or sometimes ignore, reality.  I forgot about reality.  I forgot that Sam was as sick as a kid could be without being dead.  I had all the hope in the world that one of these magical treatments would cure him., but they couldn’t.

His mom posted the most amazing, heartfelt, and honest account of his last week.  I read it Sunday night and could not get ahold of myself.  She talked about my friend, Sam’s aunt, being there with him and it killed me to know that she had to go through that and that she has to coach her daughters through the loss of their close cousin.  She talked about his siblings coming in to say goodbye, the sweet teenage girl who I’d met and crafted with a few times who was still just 15 years old – forever changed though.  She shared his very final moment as he took his last breath, and she shared her peace in knowing that he was no longer suffering.

I cannot stop thinking about Sam’s family, his aunt, his cousins, his life, his death.  It has consumed me and it makes me think about my own boys.  We have two boys, two children.  What would I do if something like this happened to one of them?  How would we go on?  How would we survive it?  Sam was 13 years old – there’s no “safe zone” with parenting – your kids can get sick or die at any moment, any time, for the rest of our lives.  It’s very frightening if you think about it.

(All of this has made me stop even thinking about donating our embryos for now.  I think we’ll hold onto them for a long time… just in case.  They’re all we have…)

*****

We’re so fortunate (and lucky, really) that our little bubble remains safe and sound, but I’m saddened by the things around us.  I’m saddened by the things that are some people’s realities, and I know too well that those things could become our reality some day as well.  No matter how hard we try to protect ourselves and our kids from the bad things in life, we really have no control over them (not even our poor relationships with our parents).  Hottie always says to focus on the things we can control, which is good advice, but I also think it’s wise to always be prepared, to always be checking to make sure things are OK and to be ready for them to change on a dime.  It’s knowing that things can change suddenly that’s keeping me up at night.

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Author: Courtney

Hi, there, I’m Courtney. I never planned to stay home with my kids, but I got sucked into motherhood when my first baby came into our lives after years of infertility and multiple rounds of IVF. His brother followed closely behind, something we didn’t plan on after having such a rough road with achieving parenthood the first time around. My boys are IVF cycle twins, conceived on the same day but born two years and one day apart (they were both transferred on the same day in October, but with two years between them). My boys are the best of friends and my husband is a terrific husband, father, and most importantly… friend. He fully supported my desire to stay home (“I just wanted it to be your idea and not mine, I totally want you to stay home and raise our kids!”) and encourages me in everything I do. I am a lover of projects, spreadsheets, fitness, healthy cooking and eating, crafts, selling my stuff on FB (HA!), and the outdoors. If I’m active, I’m pretty darn happy!

21 thoughts on “The Realities Around Us

  1. I’m so sorry for every one of these things. I also have quite a bit of family turmoil that is not easy to deal with. I most identify with your fear about something happening to your kiddos-since Charlie has burst into my life i often find myself plagued with anxiety that something unpreventable, like cancer will happen. I was talking with a good friend about it and she said she worries about things like that happening to her twin sister and then she reminds herself that unpreventable is unpreventable, and dwelling on it won’t change anything. Easier said than done, but I’ve been trying to remember that when I’m struggling. Much love to you friend.

  2. You have a lot going on right now. That is all stuff that can really weigh a person down. I hope can find some time to take care of yourself, to give yourself some TLC so that you can process all this hardship and grief. I know how rough watching the tragedy of others can be, especially when you feel like it shouldn’t make you feel so bad because it’s not your tragedy.

    Abiding with you.

    • YES! I feel like their tragedy shouldn’t be making me feel so bad, and I wonder if there is something wrong with me. It’s weird.

      I did attend the visitation for 1.5 hours the other night (I thought I’d be there 30 minutes) and spoke with his parents and spent most of the time with his aunt (my friend). It was nice to be there with them. It just felt like the right thing to do, and I hated leaving when I did but it was time.

  3. I’m sorry you are going through such a rough time. I’m sorry about your sister’s struggle, your husband’s role in that struggle and friend’s loss. I think the loss of a child is the most devastating of all losses, as there is nothing natural about it. I am always amazed at how families and parents continue on with life after such a loss, particularly if they manage to stay together as a family. Honestly, I’m always in awe of my Dad for being able to lead a normal life after one of his children died. He isn’t perfect (far from it) but he will always have my respect and admiration for not becoming an alcoholic and continuing to try to do his best with his other children (even though his best may not have been what I really needed). And so, I am so sorry for your friend’s loss.
    I don’t know how to say this without coming off wrong. Please know I mean this with the utmost respect and love, but I feel like I need to say it. and please disregard it if I’m way off base or just speaking out of turn. It sounds like you want to keep your embryo’s in case something happens to one of your boys. And I just want to vocalize that if something happens to one of your boys those embryo’s wont replace your current son. Nothing ever will. Your son’s are unique individuals with unique personalities, laughs and smiles. There is nothing in the world that will ever replace them. Yes, you may choose to have another child if something happened to one of them, this is your right. But it wouldn’t be fair to the child you lost, you other living son or the new child you birth to expect them to replace the lost one. And it wouldn’t be fair to you or your husband either. All of this said, I hope more then anything that you NEVER experience the loss of on of your boys. I hope you get to snuggle and love them for the rest of your days!

    • Thank you for your honesty.

      The reason I hold onto them is that we would have another child, if I’m young enough, if one of our kids needed a donor or something. We didn’t make the decision to be done, my health did, so we do wonder if some day we may change our minds and risk it. After 42, I don’t think I would. But I can see us changing our minds again, and we definitely would be happy to welcome another baby if we needed to to help one of our boys because that trumps my health.

      Most families can decide to grow their families whenever they want. We don’t have that option, those embryos are it. There will be no others, and because of that, I’m not ready to let them go. I would never replace a child with them, but I would provide my living child another sibling, absolutely. Not replacement, but additions to the family. My kids aren’t replaceable, but I never felt done in the first place.

      Sent from my Windows Phone ________________________________

  4. That is a lot for someone to deal with, and I’m sorry it’s been put onto your plate in one way or the other. When my friend’s daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia, it really hit me hard too, and we weren’t all that close at the time. She’s been feeling great the last month and we’ve spent quite a bit of time with her, but last week started her next phase of treatment and it quickly was brought back how sick she really is and that it’s not fair at all. Through her, we’ve learned of other local kids with cancer and every story breaks my heart, especially two who have recently lost their battle. Hopefully Hottie can stay supportive to some degree, but not get pulled in so deep that he (or you) are uncomfortable with the situation. I haven’t dealt with divorce that closely to me before, but I imagine it can be quite messy at times.

    • I’ve been wondering how your friend’s daughter is doing. It is amazing how we forget how sick these kids are until their next treatment knocks them down again. It’s a rough cycle. While at the visitation on Friday, I ran into a preschool mom friend whose oldest son had leukemia for THREE YEARS starting at the age of 5. They battled for 3 years and he won – he’s a healthy 12 year old now, but man alive. They did have their third son during that battle, which would be so hard. People are so strong, and mothers of sick kids are incredible people!

  5. I’m so sorry, C. I don’t comment often but I do keep up with you here, and I absolutely had to reach out on this post…one of my dear friends lost her 17 year old son in April. Her grief is as complicated as possible, in every sense of the definition. She has been incredibly honest that if she did not have two younger children still here on Earth to care for, she might not be sticking around either…having her two younger kids does not make living her life without her oldest son any easier, but it does make it at least possible. It’s a horrible way to have to evaluate these kinds of questions, and I have tried (but failed) to not let it creep into my own decision making process. My son is already three, and if this had not happened to someone so close to me I might more easily convince myself that I’d be okay being one-and-done. I have some selfish reasons on both sides of the equation (I don’t want to be pregnant when I’m in Italy in May, finances, age, etc.), but I do not for one moment believe that it’s any kind of safeguard – should the worst happen to my child, to any child, the option of having another does not ease a parent’s grief or make life one bit easier to live for a bereaved parent, or one caring for a critically ill child – it only allows a counterpoint of hope (I think the rainbow baby definition has been laser etched into my brain) and light…it would never erase the storm, the pain, the grief that preceded, and that will continue. This is not to say that I think the decision you’ve made for your embryos is the only “right” one (whatever is right for you is right for you), but only that the conversation around these kinds of issues gets so heated so fast that people seem to often forget that we are capable of having so many different strong feelings at once – in the midst of the deepest grief, great joy can still exist, without diminishing the grief at all. Much love to you and yours as you wade through these sad times.

    • Thank you for this, REALLY! You totally understand where I’m at with this. ” it only allows a counterpoint of hope.” I would want either of my kids to have a sibling for life, I think that’s important when you’ve had one. It’s so tough.

      I also wonder if stem cell research will be much more advanced in the future and if my kids needed some, we could see if there was a match in the freezer. It just seems wrong to get rid of existing genetic material that could help our kids out in some way in the future if needed.

      I’m sorry for your friend. That is awful. I don’t know how you survive it.

  6. Oh my goodness. That is so many difficult things; no wonder you’re feeling overwhelmed! Firstly – I’m so sorry about Sam. That is tragic. I don’t know what else to say apart from life just doesn’t seem fair at times.

    And secondly, I’m sorry that you’re having such difficulty with your family. It is such a kind of tinder box when family get together I think. We all have our own ways of being, in our own families, and then when multiple sub families get together it all sort of gets imbalanced. I don’t know what the answer is there. I find it easiest to have briefer 1:1 interactions with my family – not because I don’t love them (I really do!) but because it can sometimes get difficult with all the different dynamics. Also: $350?! Is that normal in the U.S.? I’d be bankrupt! Crikey I hope that you don’t always have to do that!

    Anyway what I’m saying overall is… Try to be calm and take a step back. That is a lot to process in one go! You know you always try your hardest and that’s all you can do. X

    • You nailed it with the family getting tricky when it’s not 1:1. My sisters and I have said that so many times. My parents revert back to how they parented us as teenagers when all three of us are “home” or together, and the way they parented was very authoritarian. They don’t understand why we get pissed now when they tell us how to act, be, live, etc. and I’m thinking, “are you KIDDING ME?” One on one is better, but with my mom, I just cannot be alone with her. She is… not a nice person. We spent $250 (my little sister was nuts for sending what she did) and no, that is not normal. My parents are very hoity toity and materialistic and they would be offended if something small was spent. My mom told me on the trip how much the trip cost… which is so freaking tacky. They don’t “expect” a big thank you, but they do. You know what I mean?

      • That sounds absolutely nuts! I can’t imagine being expected to spend that much. That’s crazy. I definitely like being older and financially dependent so I can treat my parents but that’s entirely optional. They’re just as pleased if we can make something for them or even just spend some time going for a visit. They’re usually plying me with food and wine so it’s not up to me to pay them for it, but that’s a bit unfair as I probably should! 🙂
        I’m sorry that your mum is so difficult like that and that they don’t make your kids feel welcome. That sucks. Hopefully you don’t have to spend too much time with them!

  7. Tough stuff. The biggest thing I keep trying to remind myself when it comes to difficult family relationships is that I can only control myself, my actions and my feelings. Nothing and no one else. It sucks, but knowing that relationships with family aren’t going to change and that I can either accept and have shallow relationships with those members, or cut them out of my life completely (something I’m not ready to do yet) are my only choices. I can relate so much to the things you wrote about with family and I think it was crucial that you had so many witnesses to your parents behavior and even more awesome is that you had so much support!!

    The embryo situation is tricky and I think you are wise to wait a few more years before making any official decisions. You just never know what can happen or what might change. I have been adamant that I want more kids, however over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about that more and more. Is having #3 really what I want to do or am I “addicted” to the having babies, fertility treatments, pregnancy, birth thing? It’s hard for me to explain. I can’t imagine feeling “done” having kids, but at the same time I am kinda exhausted lately and the thought of a newborn again wears me out. It’s a hard decision. You are in a different situation with your health, but the desire to add to your family may hit again, you never know. 🙂

    Hugs girl. You are handling everything great and I hope life settles down for you soon.

    • I think your question about being addicted to having babies is very applicable to me as well. I LOVE being pregnant, meeting that new baby, being in the hospital for a few days in a happy little bubble, nursing and snuggling, ALL OF IT… but do I want to do the toddler thing, the big kid thing all over again? I don’t get to make that decision and sometimes I think I’m lucky, because I don’t really know what’s right or what we want. I sometimes think we want a third because we have embryos, not necessarily because we WANT a third… basically, if we didn’t have embryos, would we even consider a third? I don’t know. So I’m lucky that it’s not really up to me.

  8. Wow, that is a lot of heavy stuff.

    I resonated with the first issue as I’m going through a divorce unexpectedly and not that I wanted. I have been a mess for 3.5 mos since he told me. It’s been an absolute nightmare, and sometimes a horror movie. I know your sis in law has to have a plan, but through the help of family she will get there. I was in shock for the first two months at least, and there would be no way I could think about getting a job with all there is going on. She will when she’s settled, but support should cover her new meager life. I am humbled and would live with someone if I could be cause I am that dibilitated emotionally. All my efforts go towards being strong for my babies. Her 6 year old is going to have it very rough too.

    like you said, your husband should not be attending mediation with her. It is just a private matter, and yes, an attorney is the way to go even with mediation for sound advice and advocacy. She can consult an attorney and do the meetings herself. If this is anything like us (I did not want the divorce and was shocked) mediation didn’t work. i needed legal representation so I wasn’t a financial victim in top of everything else.

    Make meals, offer to babysit her daughter, tell her it’s okay to feel all her feelings. Offer financial assistance if you can. Bring flowers, tell her she is lovable. She will change and maybe become a better person for this, and see what he is seeing. If you do want to give advice, carefully tell her that if she hopes to reconcile, don’t do any of the behaviors that her husband is divorcing her for. Tell her to not do anything she would regret, take the high road, and be kind. He may realize the threat of divorce was helpful in him being heard.

    Sounds like she’s still in shock.

    • Thank you for this… I am going to share it with my husband.

      I told my MIL all of these things the other night, that if Hottie left me and I wanted to stay together, that looking at apartments would not be on my list. The big problem is that he wants her out so badly, that he offered way more money than she wanted for spousal support and put the house up for sale (shes not listed as an owner of the house). It is so hard because I understand her shock and sadness, but she really does need a place to live. It’s unreal. Their mom is so thrilled to see him gone that she’s pushing too hard. Its a tough balance.

      Im sorry for what you’re going through. I cannot even imagine. Hugs.

      • Ah! Yes, then she does need a place to live. 🙂 I hold some cards, and have been holding up the sale of our house, but I’m sure my husband would have wheeled me out with the trash by now if he could. i need to take things slow and make sure I’m protected. It sucks because I want him as far frome as possible after all the hurt, but I don’t want to rush planning for my future.

        Divorce is brutal! I’m sorry you have to watch her and your husband go through this, it’s terrible for everyone involved.

  9. Ugh, so much tough stuff going on. The way your family treats you is just so awful; it breaks my heart. I’m sorry that’s the way that trip ended up going. ;(

    I feel bad for your sister – going through divorce is tough, no matter what preceded it or whose “fault” it was. Those major life changes are tough to wrap your mind around, especially when you’re not wanting that change to happen.

    Embryos.. we never ended up having to do IVF, but theoretically (which I know is not the same!), we always said we would donate to research (controversial for some people, I know) or donate to another couple struggling with IF. I wonder logistically if you can even donate overseas? One of my friends just had embryos donated to her, and she lives in NY and the doner lived in TX, and it has been a nightmare of red tape for the past 9 months to get the embryos to “cross state lines” so they could be delivered to her RE in New York. I’d guess that’s even more difficult with the overseas aspect thrown in. What an awesome gift to give to someone if you ultimately decide you can do that though. ❤

    Finally, how awful about Sam. It's so difficult to process when such terrible things happen to children especially. His family is in my thoughts and prayers…

    • Yeah, I’ve never looked into donating across state lines or national borders because until last week, I just didn’t think about donating them. It’s been a very recent thought. I sure hope your friend has success with her embryos! WOW!

      I know you know all about processing horrible things happening to children. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. They are very faithful people and I’m sure they feel your love!

  10. Hey there. I admit I haven’t read your website in months… 😦 been so preoccupied with my own life, I’m sorry. I’m reading it now because I can’t sleep thinking about Sam. I was just telling Angie how we can’t really talk to anyone about how we feel because does it really make sense that we should feel so badly when he wasn’t our son? Reading how YOU felt about it made me think maybe we aren’t so crazy, if you were touched by it like that maybe Angie and I aren’t going overboard.

    I can’t even express how good it was to see you that night. I really needed that, thank you. I will never ever forget that.

    Holy crap about your family! They have no idea what they are missing about you xoxox.

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