I scanned myself that morning to make sure we were still good to go. Their flight arrived in the early afternoon. Traffic delayed the drive home and my parents had just settled in with a glass of wine when I came home from work. I started opening the Christmas cards we received in the post that day, while on cue, my mother mentioned that she didn't receive one from us. "Oh, we decided to save the postage" Husband explained, as I presented them with their Christmas card. Tucked inside the card was a recent ultrasound photo with the announcement "Baby Allen, due July 2015" as well as the blastocyst picture. My mother burst into tears and revealed that for years she has been saying that all she wants for Christmas is an ultrasound photo. "Well, we've been trying for years to give you one..." these words began to explain our experience with infertility and repeat pregnancy loss. As I anticipated, my mother was upset that I didn't confide in her. She brought it up a few times during her visit. I reiterated my reasons multiple times, but I think it still bothers her. My father was much more understanding.
As we were clearing the table at Thanksgiving, I talked to my aunt about her chemotherapy treatment, so I could have some suggestions to help my friend who was about to start that process, and I felt badly that she was hosting both Thanksgiving and Christmas. I made what I considered to be a non-offer, and suggested that we could have Christmas at my house. She replied with the anticipated response, "oh, that's sweet! but no thank you, I was planning to have everyone here for Christmas." A few days later she reconsidered, and sent me a text, "Actually having Christmas at yours would be great". I didn't think that (A) my 76 year old aunt was texting and (B) that she would ever accept my offer. I had to break the news to Husband, who of course thought of all the practical considerations that I neglected. "Where are we going to fit 10 people?" and "Do we have enough matching plates and flatware for 10 people?" Fortunately, my parents are expert entertainers and worked this dinner as if they were our catering staff. We put our breakfast table next to the dinning room table and found it would seat 8 adults and 2 kids. I did an alternating plate pattern, which I thought I could pull off as being trendy. The only hitch in the day was that we asked my aunt to bring a chair for my cousin's older son, and we asked my cousin to bring her travel high chair. They both forgot, so we had to use our office chairs, which meant I had to re-arrange my entire table configuration. Grrrr.
We deferred to my Dad to lead a toast before dinner commenced, as he wanted to acknowledge his sister's triumph over her cancer. It was extremely touching to hear him recall his initial fear and anger after learning of her diagnosis to allowing himself to be inspired by her recovery. My father and his sister may only have one common parent, but they are full siblings in every way possible. He described how they made their decision to make the trip to the Bay Area this year, but then he added that they'll be back next year. "Only, I'll have a new title. I'll be called 'Morfar'" My aunt was the only one who recognised the Swedish word for grandfather and shrieked before hugging me and Husband, which clued in everyone else. I was able to disclose to my relatives that I've been pregnant for the past three Thanksgivings, but this was the first time I was still pregnant by Christmas. Husband quickly recapped our infertility stats. "Oh, we know all about going through that" my cousin responded.
There was so much venom that I wanted to spew. I wanted to express that as a fellow infertile I felt betrayed by the way they displayed amnesia toward their own experience. I wanted to express how shocked I was by their lack of sensitivity. I wanted to express my anger at they way they fueled the ignorance by proclaiming their spontaneous conception was the result of 'being so relaxed...' Yet, I knew it wasn't the time nor the place. Especially as my cousin offered to let us use the bassinet used by her sons and my other cousin's children, I retracted my claws. As infertility has made us chavs, we will accept any item offered to us, but I liked the idea that something used by other infants in our family, would be passed along to me. My cousin's husband was quick to say "Well, now you can forget all about that [our infertility experience]" NO WE WON'T. Husband and I responded in unison. He also warned that we might conceive spontaneously on our next trip to Hawaii. "No, I'm familiar with this stuff called birth control" I retorted with a snappy tone.
Trying to contain my parents' excitement was an impossible task. They were able to attend my nuchal translucency ultrasound, but following Husband's lead, they were watching my reaction as well as the screen. I'm not trained in performing NT scans, but I've seen enough images to recognise a normal versus an abnormal scan. Our baby looked textbook. My mother expressed that after knitting sweaters and hats for so many other babies, she was delighted to have the opportunity to work her knitting needles for her own grandchild. She mentioned that she recently donated two knit onesies to a charity event. "Well a knit onesie may be a little warm where we live" I informed her as I noted that we would love any hats, sweaters and blankets. Meanwhile, my father causally mentioned they visited a furniture consignment shop that was owned by an English couple. He later described that they had some nice leather chairs. The next day, my mother showed me a picture from her phone of my dad sitting in one of the chairs. Two days later, my dad described that the arms of the chairs were perfectly positioned for holding a baby in one's arms. Okay, I know they're excited about their future grandchild, but does that mean they get to redecorate our living room? Before I could address that, my mother pulled up a picture of the onesies she donated. They were actually more of a complete pajama with closed feet. I'm not an expert, but I thought you wanted something soft like cotton against baby's delicate skin. It didn't seem too practical. "I still think it might be too hot..." I suggested. "Fine!" my mother snapped as she closed the cover to her mini iPad. "I won't do anything for you!" Sigh. First lesson in parenting: learn to pick your battles with the grandparents.