Monday, April 12, 2010

It's (not) my party & I'll cry if I want to

My sister called me last night to discuss some of the details for the party we're hosting for our parents' 50th wedding anniversary this summer. My dad's family, in particular, is very big on celebrating every "milestone" anniversary & birthday, & so we've had parties for my parents' 25th & 40th wedding anniversaries (as well as my dad's 50th & 65th birthdays). The 40th anniversary party, 10 years ago, was a particularly big deal -- catered buffet dinner & dance at the community hall in my parents' town for about 100 people, including a speech from me & a photo slide show organized by my sister -- & we're planning something similar for this summer.

Ten years ago, I was 39 & had been married 15 years. Almost two years had passed since Katie's stillbirth, but I had just finished our first (unsuccessful) IUI using clomid & Puregon, and was looking forward to doing another in the fall. The clock was definitely ticking, but the hope of presenting my parents with a (living) grandchild was still alive & kicking. My sister is childfree by choice, so all my parents' hopes for a grandchild rested solely on dh & me.

But there won't be any adorably dressed grandchildren for the guests to fuss over, or any grandchild photos included in the slide show this time around either -- there never will be. (I suppose the one photo of Mom, dh & me holding Katie in the hospital -- or even one of Mom & me in front of Katie's niche at the cemetery -- would be considered far too morbid & sad for what's supposed to be a happy occasion.)

I had a foreshadowing that this might be difficult last summer, when my Mom attended her 50th high school class reunion. The organizers had everyone fill out a questionnaire about what they'd been doing for the past 50 years. Of course, 98% of her classmates wrote (some at great length) about their grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. That must have been an "ouch!" moment for my mom, although she rarely lets on about these things (at least to me).

If I just focus on the tasks at hand, focus on Mom & Dad, on giving them a great party, on enjoying the presence of the friends and family who will be there, I'm fine.

But whenever I let my mind wander into thoughts of what might have been, should have, could have been… I feel a wave of sadness (and guilt) come over me. The band-aid being ripped off an old wound. Again.

*** *** ***

Complicating my feelings about Mom & Dad's party, this summer is also our (dh & my) 25th wedding anniversary (less than three weeks before theirs). And to be fair to my sister, when we first started talking about this summer, she said, "OK, am I working on a 50th anniversary party, or a combined 50th-25th?" I said firmly, "Let's just keep it simple & focus on Mom & Dad." I still think that was the right decision. Fifty years is a pretty big deal. Mom & Dad deserve their moment in the spotlight, alone, unshared.

As do dh & I, I think. OK, I'll admit it. I feel a little sad (pissed off, even) that nobody is planning any kind of celebration for us. (The weekend after Mom & Dad's party is a major family reunion, so no, I don't think there will be any surprises in store -- two major events in two weekends is MORE than enough for one family to plan, lol.) (Plus, my sister already has tickets to a Bon Jovi concert the weekend we are planning to arrive. And I know where I rate next to Jon, lol.)

On dh's side (here, where we live), I honestly don't think anyone remembers, & even if they do, I'm not sure it would register that a party might be in order. Not many of his relatives have had big parties to celebrate significant wedding anniversaries. We went to 25th anniversary parties for one of his aunts and one of his uncles, and a party for stepMIL's parents 50th -- all in the early years of our marriage -- but none lately. Only two of his cousins have been married longer than we have, & there were no parties held to celebrate their 25ths. (Although we have most certainly been to umpteen engagement parties, bridal showers, stags, weddings, baby showers, first birthday parties (especially first birthday parties), first communions, confirmations, etc., for assorted relatives & their kids over the past 25 years.)

Plus, hosting an anniversary party is generally something that kids do for their parents -- even when the kids are barely in their teens & you know that Mom & Dad are footing the bill & doing most of the organizing (perhaps with a helping hand from some of the aunts & uncles). No kids, no party. (No soup for you!!)

I suppose we could plan our own party. Anything seems to go these days, although I'm sure Miss Manners would frown upon it and just thinking about it makes me feel uncomfortable. But even if it was etiquettely correct, I feel like I have enough on my plate at the moment -- & part of me thinks the money would be better spent on a nice anniversary trip/vacation for the two of us anyway.

No answers (what were the questions?? lol), but thank you for listening to/reading me vent (whine?). Stuff like this is the among the not-so-fun aspects of living childless/free after infertility & loss.


  1. Ugh. That's hard.

    I'm onboard with the idea of taking the potential party money and sending yourselves on a nice trip. Maui maybe?

  2. I agree that a trip somewhere special sounds like a good way to celebrate. But I also hear you that this is a hard thing to go through - that you are once again breaking with tradition or with the way you thought your life would turn out, completely not by choice.

    Just listening and abiding with you and holding you in my heart.

  3. Ouch. And ouch some more. You have so much to be celebrating. 25 years together, even in the 'perfect' world we all hope we might live in, is amazing. You and dh have navigated a shitstorm and then some, and you have created a beautiful life together, despite the losses that have broken so many.
    I wish someone would throw you both a party. You have spent 25 years together, you have created a child and lost a child, you have navigated the best and the very worst parts of parenting, you have taken the loss of your daughter and the pain of her absence to comfort other families.
    You have never stopped hoping for healing and for joy.
    And I doubt anyone will ever really appreciate just how much the two of you deserve a toast or two, for all that you have accomplished in the last 25 years.

    That being said, I think a trip for the two of you is so in order. A lavish one. Do it all., do it right and have the trip of a life time. And then do it again.

    And, maybe, even again.:)


  4. I guess it's a cultural thing. Over here we do plan our own [whatever] parties. In fact, expecting others to organise the whole thing for you would be downright rude. You could always do it yourself and say you are reconnecting with your European roots. :-)

    Then again, I'd rather go on a romantic anniversary getaway any day.

  5. Around here, anniversary parties are organized by either the children or parents; in fact the newspaper announcements almost always say "given by their children and grandchildren" (followed by a very lengthy list of their names and cities). So I know what you mean about the etiquette of the party. Midwesterners, whether American or Canadian, are either the giver or the recipient, but rarely both, wouldn't you agree?

    But there is something about such occasions that call attention to the generations. : (

    A big vacation is certainly in order. Your anniversary is a real milestone and accomplishment. Very pleased to hear about your possible PEI trip. : )

  6. Here is what I think you should do if you can. I think you should have an intimate dinner party with close friends and family...not a lot. Just dinner, wine, maybe a few things to add to the ambiance like candles and music. That is, if nobody really is planning a surprise. And then the next morning hop on a plane and take a great vacation.

    Guera from

  7. I could suggest a trip away, and I think that sounds great, but I think I also get the unfairness - perhaps a sense of another kick in the teeth by the lost baby/infertility world?

    I'm sorry Loribeth.

  8. I think a special trip is much need to celebrate such a huge accomplishment of being married for 25 years. You and your DH should be proud of yourself, since 50% of marriages in the US end in divorce. I am sorry for all the other nonsense.