Yesterday should have been a very happy day. My sister-in-law gave birth to their fourth child. As I’ve blogged about many times before, this is their third child since we started trying to conceive.
I remember when my first nephew was born. It was so incredibly exciting. When we got the news that she was in labour, my husband and I, along with the grandparents-to-be, got together for a meal and anxiously awaited any news. We pondered the name and gender. We counted the minutes until we got to meet our newest little family member.
Fast forward five years later and I was filled with many more icky than nice feelings when I received word she was in labour. I felt fearful about how I would react, nervous and resentful to fulfil what was expected of me in the days ahead, and worst of all, insanely jealous. I felt like an absolute asshole. How can anticipating a new arrival turn me into such a jerk?
As I neared the end of the workday, I glanced at my phone to see a text from my brother-in-law. After having three boys, they welcomed my precious little niece into this world. And I promptly reacted by bursting into tears and having an ugly (both literally and figuratively) cry.
Throughout this pregnancy, I was plagued with the hope that this fourth little one would be a boy. I thought that maybe if we were finally placed, and it was a girl, our baby would some how be “special.” This is ridiculous because I truly don’t care what gender our child will be, nor did my in-laws have any control in determining the gender of their children. I just felt like since we will never have loads of children, maybe us adding something “new and different” would make the kid stand a chance at family get togethers. But hearing it was girl filled me with ugly jealously and resentment that they have it all and I continue to grieve our empty arms.
As suspected, we were invited to the hospital with everyone to meet her. In the spirit of wishing to show excitement, we stopped at a clothing store to pick up some infant sleepers from the girl section since all of their clothing is for boys. Even my husband acknowledged that being in that store was painful for him.
I really struggled going to the hospital for the birth of their third. Yesterday was even harder. We walked through a hallway lined with newborn photos to the maternity ward to cram in to her postpartum room with their three other children and two sets of grandparents. Everyone was so joyful and all I could do was hide in the corner. They offered for me to hold her, but I politely declined. It was just too much.
On the way out to the car, my little nephew asked, “Do you have a baby in your tummy?”
Can anyone out there speak to how they cope when family members are exceedingly great at multiplying? How do I choose joy when I am so conflicted by my own grief and jealousy?How are you able to compartmentalize these opposing feelings?
I love my nephews and my new niece with all of my being, but sometimes looking at them hurts my heart.