Trampled into the primeval swamp by mastodons

So I called my mother this evening. I’d already had a protracted wrestle with the gas suppliers, who have designed their website to be anything but elegantly useable, an odd quirk considering they wish to part one from considerable quantities of cash. Having sworn myself into a frenzy anyway, and caught myself bellowing ‘I should know how to spell my own damn’ cat’s name, you arse‘ at the screen of my beloved lap-top, I had clearly paid my dues to the Gods of Fucking Irritating. Calling my mother should be a doddle.

And there was all that good karma I built up by being the smarmy daughter who remembered Mothering Sunday.

So, dial on, oh brave and noble soldier!

Hmph. Matters started well enough. A sensible discussion about plans for a family wedding we all have to somehow shuttle ourselves to and back from next month. Some thoughts on wedding outfits, my birthday, did I want a wedding outfit for my birthday, etc. How various members of the family&friends continuum are doing (various shades of ‘badly’, alas, and There Was Gloom).

I asked about the scan for her scary lady-parts incident. Diagnosis – burst ovarian cyst, ithangyew. Also, she has seen a specialist and had some bloodwork done, and I harrassled her to harrassle them to offer up the results, sharpish. And bit my last remaining shredlet of fingernail off, as you do. But allegedly the specialist was quite satisfied nothing horrible and dramatic was going on, with which I shall attempt to pacify myself and stop bloody fluttering on about it all like a wounded bird.

Anyway, it gives me more energy to be totally fucking livid with the poor woman.

The next Big Topic of Conversation, was the cousin who had baby Edna about seven or eight weeks ago now. Cousin is down in the dumps, you see. Having a baby to look after is awfully hard. Just awful. And Cousin is having trouble breastfeeding and Edna was enormous so her poor undercarriage took a right hammering and Cousin hasn’t many friends with babies living near her and Aunt is being wound up by many unhappy little phone-calls and poor, poor Cousin. Up until this point, you know, I was perfectly in agreement with my mother. Poor Cousin indeed, newborn, rebellious bazongas, minced Parts healing slowly, hormones, etc. Sounded hellish. I mean, obviously, I am sick with envy, but yes, it did all sound miserable unfun.

And then my mother told me we, the family, should rally round Cousin, and we should all call her and support her in her time of need.

‘Mm-hmm,’ said I, as noncommittally as possible.

‘I feel so awful for Cousin,’ continued my mother, chirpily. ‘She’s having such a miserable time. It’s so sad. So we really must be there for her. Her mother and I are asking all the aunts and cousins to get in touch with her.’


‘You’ll call her, won’t you? We should all call her every day and make sure she knows she’s not alone. You really should call her and, you know, comfort her. Cheer her up. She needs us. I mean, this is all so dreadful for her. It makes me so sad to think of her, suffering through this all alone.’

I’m afraid I lost my temper. I said, sardonically, ‘Yes, I could cheer her up by pointing out Edna is alive and well, unlike all my babies.’

And my mother said, actually said, ‘well, I suppose you could, as long as you put it very tactfully and gently.’

I am now of course violently afflicted with Esprit d’Escalier.

But mostly, I want to say, and where in Buttfuck Ohio were all the Aunts and Cousins and comforting phone-calls during my miscarriages? OK, not the chemicals, but the two where I was hospitalised? The one where H and I trekked back and forth to hospital through the snow for two whole weeks in a state of terror, then hope, then finally heart-break after all?

The clan has a tendency to ignore me…

ETA, after reading the first few comments, I should point out that I also told my Mum quite strenuously that if cousin is feeling that miserable she needs to talk to her GP/midwife/health visitor, in case it’s PPD, which won’t magically go away when ‘comforted’ by a dozen or so relations via telephone (rather than by, say, two or three relations via hoovering and casseroles). And that she should be seeing midwife/lactation consultant re: breastfeeding problems. And then my mother pulled the ‘rally round’ stunt and my head went spang.


13 responses to “Trampled into the primeval swamp by mastodons

  • a

    I can sympathize – having been in a similar sort of situation. “Oh let’s all feel sorry for X and support her!” Wait, what about me?!? To which, in my family, the answer would be “Well, you’re stronger than X.” Although, I must say, your mother takes it to new heights with the idea that the ‘remind her that at least she has a LIVING child’ comment was a good one.

    However, Edna’s mother may be suffering from PPD, so a rash of supportive phone calls from cousins might be…the opposite of what she needs? Maybe she needs someone to tell her to talk to her doctor? Maybe she needs one of her cousins to come over and give her a break (not you, though). The last thing I’d want if I were depressed and had a newborn was a bunch of people annoying me with phone calls. (I hate the phone though, so my view may be skewed.)

  • Anonymous

    I agree with A.

    You don’t owe cousin anything and you’re the last person who should be asked to comfort her. Dare I say – like a tramp, consoling a double roll-over Lotto winner on the woes of their win. And yes, she needs to see a doctor. Hormoans, shmormoans. She has her baby. She lives in the western world. I take it baby is well? Umm.. Maybe I am too cynical at times. But I say to her – grow a pear! Yes, I said ‘pear’.

    Regards (forgot how to sigh in on my phone) Me (Previously known as ‘piss boileth over’)

  • Bionic Baby Mama

    bah. cousin probably is miserable, regardless of the happy myth that babies are only wonderful. lord knows i was pretty bad for a bit there. BUT that certainly does NOT mean that you are obligated to be the one to comfort her, and i will go so far as to say that your mother’s suggestion that mentioning how lucky cousin is to have edna at all is not the best comforting advice i’ve ever heard.

    ‘course, that’s not much of a surprise, given how the lousy comfort you have received.

    i say that if you like cousin, find some nice place doing a 2-for-1 special on bouquets or chocolates or chocolate bouquets or ponies or whatever and have them send one to her and one to you. and if you don’t especially like her, have them send both to you. the lord helps those who help themselves, no?

  • Amy P

    *eyes transcript of conversation*

    Are you absolutely certain that you’re not Tom’s not-known-of-until-now-long-lost sister?

  • Hairy Farmer Family

    Ehhh, ye gods. There’s nothing quite like one’s mother for planting a delicately besandalled mastodon foot right into the splattery cowpat of tactlessness. She… still doesn’t seem to get it, does she? I’m so sorry, May; being exhorted to twist the knife in one’s own wounds by one’s own mother is a Tough Gig of a phone call, right enough.

    If cousin is in throes of PPD, then unless you are close buddies already, I feel you two can have absolutely nothing helpful to say to one another at this stage. Resist coercion with all your might.

    I usually get a little further than the staircase. I’m usually in the car!

  • korechronicles

    I am fully aware that I very often open my mouth before engaging my brain fully, but ye gods and little fishes, your mother takes the biscuit. And the cake should there be one of HFF’s in the vicinity.

    I’m sorry she can’t be the kind of mum who gets it and can provide you with the support you not only need, but deserve. In spades. And my experience is such that I have come to recognise that those most in need of sensitivity training are the ones that are most totally, unconciously usually, resistant to it. A glazed look and a wander off into the garden have been the only way I cope with these walking time bombs.

    And yes, poor cousin, but if it is PDD and not just newborn overwhelm and the reality of total dependence 24/7 setting in, then the last thing you want is a whole bunch of back patters trying to buck you up.

  • wombattwo

    I am utterly lost for words now. I am sat on my sofa, mouth open, frowning and all I can think of is “What the…?”
    Wow, that’s… Well. I’m glad your mother’s ovaries seem to be OK anyway… Hmmm…
    Agree with the above: if she is merely “Oh God I’m tired and I want some sleep and a shower and why doesn’t this baby stop crying for 2 seconds?” I see no need for you to phone her on a daily basis. If she does have/is developing post-natal depression, well I still see no need for you to phone her on a daily basis, as 1) depressed, answering phone to lots of relatives? Not helpful for her, or probably at all pleasant for her. 2) Really, what help can you give anyway? She needs someone to march her down to the GPs and get some anti-depressants prescribed (i.e. her mum) and 3) I realise this may be off the mark considering the somewhat unhelpful reactions of your family to your miscarriages, but if she *is* depressed, she might just be feeling bad about your miscarriages anyway, and probably won’t want to whinge to you as she will know, underneath, that she is lucky to have a healthy baby.
    Although I will say that someone should get her some painkillers at least. Ouch.
    Hugs, anyway.

  • Womb For Improvement

    Mothers! My step mother did something that also left me agog this weekend.

    She sent my sister, you know the one who just failed IVF, an email commiserating but also forwarding one of those long “15 things you need to do before you are ready to have Children” emails (including put a t-shirt on an octopus you are now ready to dress a toddler). What the fuck? Seriously. I mean intentions are good but i think empathy must peak in ones thirties and then deteriorate faster than ones eggs as they go through the menopause …

  • Solnushka

    There’s that barrier again. The difference between the perfectly ‘normal’ bad thing to happen (PPD following the arrival of a healthy baby), which people can be openly and aggressively sympathetic about, and the taboo subject of dead children, which everyone, especially you, is supposed to brush under the carpet and ignore. It is disappointing that your nearest and dearest haven’t quite grasped the point about that yet, to the extent that you are asked to actively participate in it. *hugs*

  • twangy

    “I suppose you could, as long as you put it very tactfully and gently.” – SPLUTTER!

    Oh dear. It’s even more frustrating that they don’t get it, when they partially seem to. Sigh.

  • Dramatically, I add to the clan of fellow-sufferers « Nuts in May

    […] clearly the expert on all the things that can go wrong with lady-parts, she called me for advice? She was originally diagnosed with a burst ovarian cyst, but she had a couple of appointments with a specialist (I nagged. I am a good nagger), and it […]

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