I'm always an emotional person. What I feel is written on my face most of the time. If something touches me, I cry easily and often copiously. I still remember dissolving into uncontrollable sobs during a performance of Romeo and Juliet at the RSC when I was about 19 - it was something about the hollowness with which the Capulets and Montagues delivered the lines that vow that these deaths have changed the way they feel about each other that meant I was beyond comforting. My mother was rather embarassed, as I recall. I did the same thing at a performance of Billy Elliot 18 months ago, although of course at that point I was mourning the negative IVF cycle we'd just had as well as being empathetic with Billy's lost relationship with his mother. There are too many incidents to count. And it happened again last night.
I'm not entirely sure what set me off. In one sense, I'd had a good and productive day. My mother wanted to take me shopping for the baby, and the day our diaries meshed was yesterday. I arrived at Peter Jones and immediately felt very ambivalent about being there. My mother suggested we take a basket and start filling it, but I struggled to pick one up. "Ill just look around first," I said. This took a while and eventually she started to get impatient. I resigned myself to picking up at least a few things. I bought nipple pads and cream, barrier cream for the baby, a pack of muslins, 2 nightdresses (apparently easier to change nappies in the middle of the night), a pack of vests, a hooded towel. Stuff we need, stuff that isn't too personal, doesn't cost much. We looked at moses baskets, cribs and other furniture but nothing was terribly exciting. After a poor lunch we headed down the road to a shop that I knew carried some furniture a friend had recommended. It was totally worth it - fantastic service and great looking furniture. The choices were hard. We liked things from different ranges, and I couldn't decide on what kind of colouring I wanted. It took maybe 2 hours to decide and to buy some serious stuff, including a few more bits and pieces, like swaddling blankets and a baby healthcare kit with thermometer, nail scissors etc.. Mum kindly paid for the 2 big pieces of furniture, a crib and a wall storage unit including a wardrobe. I bought a glider that I had not known I wanted until I sat on one in the shop and immediately felt better, relaxed and comfortable.
I spent most of the time in that shop on the verge of tears. I didn't cry, but I kept wanting to. I tried to get H to come down as I was really struggling to make a decision. H wouldn't come, he was suffering from a hangover and probably couldn't face leaving the house. It felt like a big deal. It's not, I know it's not, but it felt like one.
Part of the problem was that three years ago, before any of the drama, I had come across some hand-made children's furniture while surfing the web, and set my heart on it. It costs a small fortune, and it seemed we would never need it so I put it out of my mind. Recently a friend whose baby is now a year old had recommended another brand and actually it looks remarkably similar to the hand-made stuff but at a fraction of the cost. So I'd had this image all through the journey of how the eventual nursery would look, and now perhaps I could create that look. But when I saw the stuff in the flesh it was quite big and chunky, and looked best in a very dark wood that I worry will overwhelm the room. So I dithered and paced and wished someone would just tell me what the right answer was. After much thought I decided to go with the dark colouring, but kept fretting about it. I still am. I may change my mind, who knows.
We capped off the day by visiting a third shop to comparison shop the furniture, desparately trying to find something to eat and failing, and then going back to Peter Jones to try and find curtain fabric and fabric for the chair. We were knackered by then and I was starting to feel a bit feeble I was so hungry. I tried to get mum into a taxi home but she wanted to come back with me. We walked in the door at 1900, to find H feeling a bit sheepish and worried about me. I downed a bit of cheese and a huge glass of water and started to recover slightly. We made mum a cup of tea and I started to really really wish she'd go home, I wanted to collapse on the sofa but didn't feel I could. I also felt emotionally tense. It was a huge deal, suddenly having all this baby stuff in the house, and I felt both stressed and ridiculous about being stressed that I'd bought the wrong furniture.
Eventually while mum was encouraging me to show her other bits of furniture on line, I snapped and said something along the lines of "I just can't make any more decisions about anything this evening, I've just had enough." At which point she stood up and said "well, I'll just go and wait outside for a taxi, then." So then I felt terrible and asked her to please stay, and she started telling me how awful I'd made her feel, and I just lost it. Started sobbing and couldn't stop. I tried to articulate why but I'm sure all that came out were snippets of stuff along the lines of "still don't know if we'll have a baby" and "don't have the right stuff" and "if you get upset by this, how are you going to be helpful after I give birth and am even more emotional and tired." (mum has promised to come and stay after the baby is born to help, and swore blind that she was the right person for us because I could be horrible to her with impunity and she wouldn't mind).
Mum left after I calmed down somewhat, but she was clearly upset and I spent the whole of the rest of the evening on the verge of tears despite H's attempts to cheer me up. I don't entirely understand why I found the whole thing so stressful. Yes, buying stuff for the baby is hard, but it's also wonderful. It's exciting to be choosing curtains for a nursery, isn't it? Shouldn't I be excited and happy rather than stressed and freaked-out?
I wonder if my tension is because the nursery is a signifier of what we've gone through to get here. That I finally get the furniture I've always wanted but it's not really the right furniture - is that about my worries about being a mother? Some of the stress is undoubtedly because my relationship with my mother is always stressful, but most of the day was actually ok. I feel bad for ruining it. I feel stressed about whether it's really right for Mum to come and help after the baby is born. And most of all I wish I knew how to make it all better.
This was going to be a post about the emotions of infertility and how they've changed, but I think that will have to come in a follow-on post, this is enough already.