If you'd like to use this space to tell stories/secrets/confessions of your dangerous maternal (or paternal!) mind, send me an e-mail and you too can enjoy the refuge of the Basement...
I had an unassisted birth. I know that is hard to understand for many people, I understand that it is not the right choice for everyone, etc, etc. But I did what I needed to do, what was right for me and my family, and I researched the hell out of it. I am a very careful person. I was willing to go to the hospital if something felt/went wrong. However, I did not need to go to the hospital and it was the most amazing experience of my life. Because of the birth of my son, my second child, I became a strong, confident woman.
This is not what I am upset about, this is simply background.
Here is what I am upset about, and I cannot seem to let it go, despite talking about it with my husband and my closest friends. I’m hoping that blogging this will help. I used to have my own blog, but family began reading it and I clammed up. I am extremely private, hence the unassisted birth. Blogging is different, because it is like a journal with the added release of knowing that someone out there (that you don’t need to have contact with if you don’t want to) may be reading it, may be hearing it, may be relating to it. And it’s easy to still feel private, especially when you have The Basement.
So, I have a cousin who is an asshole. Hardly a rarity, no doubt. He gives himself much leeway in his life; he allows himself to say whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and pity those who get offended. He does not offer the same courtesy to anyone else. He is right, you are wrong, the end. And he is willing to offer his opinion on anything and everything, and he is always right. Brilliant fellow, isn't he?
After my son was born, my children, my husband, and myself were attending another young cousin’s birthday. Asshole cousin was there, too. We began arguing about doctors. He was maintaining that all doctors are altruistic, and to say otherwise was sacrilege. I said that while I was sure some of them were, I was also sure that many of them were there for the money, or at least had stayed for the money. If only because doctors are human, like the rest of us. People do good things for bad reasons, and bad things for good reasons, and so on. He became deeply offended (I had no idea why, since he is an accountant, and as far as I know is not a personal friend of any sort of doctor). I usually enjoy a good argument, and thought this was just that, a normal, semi-intellectual argument. A day or two later I emailed him a link to an online book about how difficult it is to be a medical student and resident. (I just spent a while googling for it, but no luck as I can’t remember the author. A shame because it was fascinating and insightful.) What I got back was a terrible email that said, amongst other things, that my son should have died because maybe then I would understand how important/wonderful/useful doctors truly are. His email was filled with venom and vitriol. I was shocked. I had no idea he was so offended. Hell, I still don’t really know if he *was* offended, given how he likes to swing himself about. He may have just been messing with me. But either way, the message really scarred me. I could not believe that anyone, anywhere, least of all a relative, would wish my child dead to teach me a lesson. That moment was when I finally understood how terrorists and other purveyors of war think. Maybe that is a bit dramatic, but how else to explain the deep visceral reaction I had? I stopped talking to him that day. I spent months trying to come to terms with that email. Asshole cousin is not a parent, he doesn’t understand, he is an idiot, he did not really mean it, babe was young and I was hormonal, on and on. In the end I simply could not forgive him. I don’t know if he even realized I wasn’t talking to him, honestly. We were not close before that. I stopped showing up at family events, or if I did, I avoided him (and his wife; although I like her, I cannot fathom what she sees in him).
After a while I heard that he and his wife had been trying to get pregnant. There were difficulties. She had endometriosis. Eventually, after fertility drugs and other treatments, she did get pregnant. They were so happy, everyone was so happy (although asshole cousin has managed to alienate almost all the family at one point or another, no one wishes the pain of infertility on anyone). Even I was happy, if only because I figured he might deepen a bit. I also worried for the child, especially if parenthood did not magically transform him into a person who was not an asshole. I also learned via my mother that I and my children were no longer welcome in their home. Why? Because my children are not vaccinated (again, much research, just the conclusion my husband and I came to, you are welcome to your own opinion, I know that one is a hard call). He and his wife were afraid my diseased children might spread germs to her, and it was super important she stay healthy. Plus, I shit you not, their doctor recommended they not have contact with us as it could be risky. Correct me if I’m wrong, but if you are vaccinated against certain diseases, and vaccinations are so effective, why would you be worried about catching said diseases? At least now I had some reasons why he might have been so rabid during our argument; my children are very healthy, and I had no problems getting pregnant. In fact, my daughter was a surprise. Ok, I said to myself, if you are in such a rough spot it would be tough *not* to be jealous of someone that had an easy time getting pregnant and then did things that you deemed irresponsible. I don’t take my good fortune lightly. I know how lucky I am to have my healthy, wonderful children. And I don't make any major decisions without first doing tons of research.
Well, friends, this is when things take a turn for the worse. His son was stillborn. After years of trying and a joyful pregnancy, they had to face this tragedy. There was no cause of death discovered. It was terrible and difficult for everyone, especially since my Aunt, asshole cousin’s mom and my mother’s sister, had also lost her first child (a son who would have been asshole cousin's older brother) a day or two after birth. It was awful. I felt terrible. And yet, I am ashamed to say, I also felt like that was karma in action. I did my best to be empathetic, and I truly was to a large degree. No mother, no father, should have to face that. One of the worst pains for a parent is losing a child. They aren’t kidding when they say that having a child means agreeing to have your heart walk around outside your body. I sucked up my pain at the things he had said to me and wrote several letters (carefully, gently written) and even spoke on the phone a couple of times. Because, face it, you need all the help you can get in a situation like that. But please, internet, forgive me for having a small part of me begging to scream, “can you believe you wished this on me you stupid asshole?!?”
After they lost their son, they felt best attempting to get pregnant right away (I have no opinion on this, I know everyone finds their own path through grief). It took them only two months and she was pregnant again, this time with twin girls (and no fertility drugs this time, a wonderful miracle). She is pregnant right now, due in the fall. I have thought this through and I really am happy for them to have this joy and healing coming to them. I am excited to see the babies. We moved away several years ago, but we will be coming back to their town for my sister’s wedding next spring, when the twins will be 4-6 months old. I love babies, and I am sure they will be amazing little girls.
I thought I had finally worked through all my bad feelings. But then. Oh, but then. My mom told me of a recent conversation she had with asshole, that went something like:
Asshole Cousin: “Do you think anonymous blogger will come to our house when she comes to town again?”
Mom: “I’m not sure, that's between the two of you.” (I love my mom! she tries to stay out of the drama!)
Asshole Cousin: “Well, we hope she will, we would like her to. You can tell her we have forgiven her.”
Holy shit. I cannot believe the rage that flooded through me when my mom told me about that conversation. FORGIVEN ME FOR WHAT? Internet, I am pissed. I swear to you that I have gone over everything in my mind, thinking back carefully, asking questions of my other cousin who witnessed our doctor argument…the result is, what the hell would he need to forgive me for? For making my own birth choices? For saying that all doctors are not altruistic? For not vaccinating? I know that given his history with myself and other members of our family that he most likely does not even recall wishing my child dead (or he would never admit to remembering). I don’t want to hate this asshole cousin anymore. I want to be zen and calm and forgiving. I want to send his daughters little presents in the mail. I don’t want to avoid talking about him with my Aunt, who I love. But I also don’t want to suppress everything that I am in an effort to keep the peace. No one should have free rein to act like such an asshole. Plus I feel like I am wasting too much of my time and energy on this schmuck. ARRRRGGGGHHHH. I wish I did not have to see him ever again, but I’m tired of avoiding family functions because of him. And I am definitely NOT missing my sister’s wedding. She, for reasons unfathomable, manages to ignore his bludgeoning of everyone around him.
Hopefully this blog will help me release some of this. Suggestions are welcome. Thanks.