A couple of years ago, when the baby-making journey had just started to become an out-and-out, tooth and nail struggle, I spotted a bunch of boxes in my in-laws’ guest room closet.  These boxes were labeled on the outside with marker, and appeared to be full of hand crocheted baby blankets, booties, and bonnets, stacked away gathering dust.  Seeing those carefully labeled and stowed boxes not surprisingly brought up a ton of complicated emotions at the time.  It felt wonderful to know that J’s family was waiting with so much love for the children we would someday have.  I was incredibly sad, of course, that we still didn’t have a baby to wrap in those blankets (ok, “sad” doesn’t begin to touch it, but you all know firsthand what I mean).  I was also thankful that J’s parents respected our privacy enough not to say anything about our continual childlessness (Other than J’s mother wanting us to drink holy water that one time.  That was interesting.  We declined, but looking back, maybe we should have given it a shot.  It probably would have been as effective as the 2 IUIs and 4 IVS…and a lot cheaper and less painful).  The months and years of failed attempts went on, and every once in a while I’d think of those items carefully, silently, and patiently laid away for us.

Then we arrive at his family’s house for this Christmas visit.  As I set my suitcase down I see a cardboard box made into a dog bed – with a baby-sized afghan wadded up inside to pad it.  I think I brought it to J’s attention in a sarcastic, joking kind of way.  I’m sure he didn’t realize quite how much it bothered me.  I’m not sure I did at first.  It rankled, though, and my discomfort about it grew in intensity as the days passed.  Every time I looked at it, I felt angry that someone used that blanket – the one meant for our baby – for the dog.  It felt like they gave up on us.  Like they wadded up our hope and trashed it.

J’s family (like most families) has a black sheep – his younger brother.  He’s an unemployed, sulky, self-involved guy who mopes around and mooches off of everyone.  As long as I’ve known him, he’s refused to contribute to anything (cooking or cleaning or any adult conversation).  He just shows up to eat the food other people prepare and then skulks off afterwards, leaving his mess behind.  This black sheep had recently installed himself into the room that contained those future-baby boxes.  I knew he had moved a bunch of things out of there when he made that room his unemployment base of operation.  I decided (not with any real proof, of course) that he was also the one who desecrated my baby’s blanket.  Now, that’s one DAMN good way to piss off an infertile!

There were other things that put the Black Sheep in my bad books this visit.  His shameless refusal to contribute to the family in any small way was particularly blatant this year.  And then he “accidentally” took and used my cell phone to call his girlfriend.  I’d have leant him my phone if he’d asked, but he just took it and then lied about it.  It made me feel really vulnerable and violated because of all the IF-related tweets, voicemails, and contacts on my phone (and then there’s the fact that he told me such bold-faced, unbelievable lie).  Despite all that, I don’t think my fury would have had the heat and laser-like focus it developed if I hadn’t thought he also did away with my baby “hope chest”.  I relished the glares I shot across the room at him, and I wouldn’t let him eat ANY of our best gingerbread men.  Take that, you Black Sheep Baby Blanket Desecrator!

Later on, J and I were actually able to take a look in the closet.  My love for my husband grew exponentially because he didn’t once try to tell me I was overreacting about the baby blanket.  Luckily, stacked up high behind the Black Sheep’s piles of junk were those same, familiar, precious dusty boxes – intact.  We peaked in them and saw the sweetest, most delicate white baby blankets and tiny bonnets, carefully folded in tissue.  It seemed that our hope chest was still safe, so I didn’t mind letting the dog use that one little blanket.  And I decided to spare the Black Sheep my most scathing wrath (which can be pretty formidable).  I downgraded him from “Mortal Enemy” status to “Seriously Annoying Loser Brother-in-Law” status.

It’s been a pretty emotional and exhausting several days.  I got to spend a lot of time with my little niece, which was great.  We baked cookies, drew pictures, and made Christmas decorations.  I kept myself together when she asked me and J if we wanted to have kids.  J very deftly started joking about something to keep the mood light.  She (who is 8) offered to babysit.

I also got to be with J while he visited his very old and ailing grandmother in the hospital.  He’s her favorite, so even though she’s not always conscious now and isn’t recognizing people, her face lit up when she saw him.  He spent a lot of time sitting with her and talking to her, very gently stroking her cheek with his finger.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude to have a husband who knows how to love so generously and so well.

Today I’ve been super weepy.  I was chalking it up to exhaustion and then I remembered I took my last BCP two nights ago.  Cycle day one is likely to be tomorrow.   And here we go…

– Patience