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Old 10-28-2008, 07:54 AM   #1
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Why do they do it?

Dearest friends...
Well, the same aunt I wrote about last time is causing trouble again. After the last call 6 or 7 weeks ago, she called again to my uncle this morning, threatening to call the courts, if she didnt get to see her mother. Of course last time, nothing came of it, but she loves, and I mean "loves" to stir up trouble.
The morning today started off fine, with "fine" meaning that uncle and grandma actually got some sleep last night. Mom came over to watch my son, and they were playing....all was about as good as it can be these days. Then Aunt calls, starts this rubbish again. Screaming that she has the right to see her mother......
Ladies I am so tired of this. I tried to call Aunt and give her a piece of my mind, but of course she is not answering the phone. My mom worries about me getting upset in my condition.....but you know what? Nothing my aunt will say will upset me. The last time we had a blow up, the conversation and the harsh words with her haunted me.....but that was because I'd never had that type of conversation with her before. This time is different, that was 2 years ago, and we're all far from the same people we were when all this started. She cant hurt me now personally because I have no longer have any feelings or love for her.
I know I should stay out of it and let mom and uncle deal with it, but it is hard, hard to watch Uncle become a shadow of himself trying to care for grandma, hard to watch mom fret herself every single day, only to be kicked when they're down by this woman. It is hard to sit by and watch all their efforts be rewarded with a kick in the teeth.
What my aunt wants is nice little short visits with grandma on her terms. Not to help in her caring of "their" mother. Not to give Uncle some time to himself to maybe do something other than get "groceries". She doesnt understand that when she leaves, grandma feels abandoned all over again, and Uncle has to pick up the pieces. She blames everything on Uncle, clearly displaying that her hatred for Uncle is stronger than her love for her mother.
When I talk to her, I plan to tell her to knock off these calls, and that she needs to stop acting like a child, grow up, put aside her anger, and roll up her sleeves and start caring for her mother, and give her some peace before she dies. If she cant do that, then leave them alone to go on dealing with this hideous illness until grandma can hold on no longer.
It's awful how the caregivers, no matter how stressed out....still hold on.....hold on for the days when things are not as "rough" as yesterday......but all it takes is one ignorant voice to upset the apple cart. It is difficult, I think actually impossible to just write it off as the way Aunt deals with things, and to just ignore it. Ignorance is one thing, but intentionally making things worse, needs to be dealt with.
Oh ladies, I am fed up with my family.......if they dont want to help, why oh why can they not just stop making things worse? This illness is horrible enough and needs no help to cause heartache......
Big sighs today....thanks for listening.
Love, Caroline xo

Last edited by mary09; 10-28-2008 at 07:56 AM.

 
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Old 10-28-2008, 09:32 AM   #2
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Re: Why do they do it?

This is a behavior pattern with all now. Uncle is determined to do it all and Aunt doesn't help. Aunt wants to see Mother (her request) but doesn't do what uncle thinks she should be doing. Grandmother reacts to everything in her own way... not in the reality of the situation. Everybody feeds off Grandmother's reactions and Grandmother's reactions feed off the STRESS.

I do have questions. Is the Aunt allowed to see her mother and if so are there restrictions placed on her visit? Does Grandmonther truly know who these people are at this point?

It is obvious from this and many post you have made that your Uncle has taken on the burden of caring for your Grandmother. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. It can be an obcessive desire that excludes other or it can be a responsible duty. It can be controlling or caring. If the Aunt wants to visit, even for a short time, is it right for the Uncle to deny her seeing her Mother?.... even if he feels that she is not doing what he thinks she should? Would a few short visits lead to more visits and perhaps more help for Uncle? Is Grandmother responding to the here and now or is she responding to being abandoned by her babies which she sees in her head and not the family in the present? Is she truly capable of knowing who is in her here and now and what they are doing or is she railing against a disease that has clouded her thoughts and ability to connect to the here and now? Is the Aunt creating drama by asking to visit and being denied? Is the Uncle creating drama by denying the visits because he doesn't get what he wants?

Yes, I am playing devils advocate here on both sides because at some point you have to break the cycle of drama to eliminate the drama. You have to do the unexpected. Your Aunt expects to be denied access to her mother. That is her hook. Your Uncle doesn't expect to get what he wants and needs from your Aunt. That is his hook. With both hooks in tack they stay entangled. The unexpected would be to just allow the Aunt to see her Mother. Then what does she have to rail about? Your grandmother's reaction is not to whether your Aunt is there or not.... it is more than likely to the stress and tention between your Uncle and your Aunt.

Railing at your Aunt is not going to help. It only feeds into her hook.... that she is uninvited and unworthy of visiting her Mother. Denying her visitation rights is the same. So why not just say.... "Sure you can come visit and I will go to the grocery store." That will do more than all the railing anybody can do. Uncle can go out and stay an hour or so. It would be a break, however short, but if might lead to something more. If it doesn't then you are right back where you were with an hour break. I would give your Aunt nothing to rail about.

I see some of what you are describing in my situation and I am the AUNT! Because of distance (not desire) I can't do what Sister 3 and 4 do. I truly look for opportunities to help them and my parents, but every time I try there is chaos created by my other sisters. Yes, they do the majority of the interaction with Mom and Dad. They declare that I cannot understand their plight. No matter what I try to do it is met with their resentment rather than appreciation. They belittle my attempts and frequently tell me how horrible I am. They have told me to just NOT COME AT ALL..... or that they are just going to stop including me in the communication..... or any number of other threats. Then if I say anything.... I am being cruel to them that do so much. See the similarity?

I am not saying that the Aunt is right. I am saying that there is enough guilt in your situation for them all to share in the blame. At this point if Uncle does the unexpected it might just turn the situation a little in his favor. If you entrench yourself in a persistent negative situation without looking for positive ways to change the cycles of chaos then you can only expect the cycle to continue. Doing the unexpected can turn the world around a little.

I just did that with my sisters. My plans to facilitate Mom's trip this weekend was met with the expected exclamation of how much she had done, how little I had done, and how burdended she is. I made an attempt to explain and that was met with more barbs, drama, and chaos. She truly expected me to continue the tirade but instead I just said.... "So be it"! I am still going but without the drama. Drama can only exist if both sides feed it.

Take what I have said as food for thought.... not what you should or should not do. Actually you can do nothing to fix this... it is up to the parties involved. Just understand that every coin has two sides and it's not always black and white.

Love, deb

 
Old 10-28-2008, 11:17 AM   #3
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Re: Why do they do it?

Dearest Deb....
I hope I didnt upset you by talking about my aunt that way, but I'm not sure why you feel a similarity in that story to yourself. For the first time I have to disagree with you my friend. You are NOTHING like my Aunt. If anything you are like my MOM. Okay, without the fretting as much because maybe you've learned how to coexist with your sisters and not let them get to you as much. But you are the same in that you are both long distance, and whatever you can do for your parents, you DO, wholeheartedly! My uncle tells my mom, who is 3,000 miles away that he would have lost his mind if it werent for her, giving him someone to talk to all this time.
Everything you say is true Deb, with regards to the "unexpected".....that might work with some people, but not this Aunt. Deb, you have overcome obstacles with your sisters, but have they ever stopped you from seeing your mom and dad? Do you think that you could just cut off ties with your mom and dad because your sisters upset you? From what I know of you, I'm willing to bet that would be a NO. Whatever your issues are with your sister, you would never abandon your parents and use them as an excuse. But that's what she's done.
I know my Uncle is determined to look after my grandma.......but he does so because he has been backed into a corner. Before all the resentment started, he has pleaded with them to come and stay the night, because he cannot get any sleep. They wont!! They will only visit here and there for a few minutes at a time. For the longest time Deb, he allowed this to go on, he cleaned up after my grandmother, washed her laundry, went 3, 4 nights with no sleep....day after day, with them just coming in and out and saying they could only stay 5 minutes. Time went on, and he was basically "grovelling" to them for the time they would give, because the visits started getting fewer and farther between. After awhile Deb, grovelling takes its toll and starts to hack away at your self esteem. So yes, he has become bitter, in my mind, I cannot blame him. Day after day, making them coffee, watching them go after 15 minutes knowing he has the whole night ahead of him of hallucinations and sobbing. Hard pill to swallow.
This is the same aunt who dont forget wanted to admit my Grandma to a nursing home, but had a flight booked the next day for her vacation. This is the same Aunt, that when my Uncle took my grandmother to her house, and said, "Here, please look after her for a few days".....she said "NO"....because she had "no heat on in her house".
She and the other Aunts had the ability all along to visit with grandma. When Uncle got exhausted and needed help, they all started backing off. He has tried before reaching out to them, and nothing has worked.
This is the same woman Deb, who "I" reached out to when I was worried sick about my mom's test results, and she went to her son and twisted my words and said I yelled at her. God up above knows her lies and they have since destroyed my relationship with my cousin. I have experienced her lies and coldness firsthand.
So to answer your question, yes, her calls are met with coldness now.....but that comes from months after months of begging and pleading for help and getting nothing in return. A person can only take so much before they say "forget it". My uncle has begged as much as he can, he has nothing left. If you could hear him talk, he is so low, so depressed. To hear him talk, about how he cannot have a conversation with another adult anymore.....how he cant understand why his sisters have left him and my grandmother in this situation....it would break your heart. At this point, yes, he is the sole caregiver....but he fought long and hard for help, and I think now he's just done fighting. The only thing left in him, I guess, is that he wont let them come into his home, treat him rudely and spend 10 minutes with my grandma and then take off, leaving him to manage all alone again.
I could never do what he does.....so however he manages to get through the day.....I leave that to him.
As for my aunt......Deb, again you are nothing like her, nothing. Dont forget there is no distance for my aunt, she lives 5 minutes from her mother. I'm sorry your sisters give you such a hard time......they should thank their lucky stars that you are there, and that are involved in your parents care.
I hope I havent said anything upsetting Deb....I value your advice and friendship dearly.......I just wanted to explain how things are......I know it may seem like my Uncle is refusing help, but it's far from that. He's broken.....and they have made him the way he is today.
I am not going to yell at her.....but she has no business calling and getting upset. She's not a child, and if she wants to see her mother, all she needs is a civil tone and to say that she wants to come and help care for her.......it's pretty simple...but not in her makeup. Why she doesnt see that my uncle would kill for his family to help him, I dont know. Can they honestly believe he is enjoying this? He's just done begging......and I understand that.
Thanks for listening Deb....
Love, Caroline xo

Last edited by mary09; 10-28-2008 at 11:18 AM.

 
Old 10-28-2008, 11:38 AM   #4
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Re: Why do they do it?

Dear Caroline,

Your Uncle and your Aunt are in such a pattern of behavior, long time and so 'set in stone' that there is little chance it can be changed.

Your Mother can choose to distance herself from the two of them. When your Aunt calls her to complain and make wild accusations, your Mom has two or three choices. She can say "I am sorry, but there is nothing I can do about it. Let's talk about something else." If your Aunt cannot leave that subject, your Mom has to say, "bye for now." and hang up.

Your Mom can get Caller ID and not pick up the phone when it's your Aunt. Auntie can leave a message if it's anything important. If it is just a rant, erase it. Don't even listen to all of it.

Your Mom can continue being involved, suffering from not being able to change anything, worrying herself sick over Grandma, Uncle and Aunt, and feeling helpless and incapaple and dumped on.

You have a choice too .. you can start listening to your Mom's lamentation and say, "Mom, I just don't have the time or the energy to listen to this right now, let's talk about it another time."

Keep your emotional distance. Concentrate on your husband and child and pregnancy. If you can't change your Mother's reaction to these calls, and if she won't stop accepting them and listening and getting riled up, you can change your reaction to her.

I remember a silly sit-com many years ago where a young woman used to routinely lay the phone down, go away, do her nails, drink coffee, and every few minutes picked up and said, "yes, Ma." Her mother in the story did not need feedback, just somewhere to vent her annoyance. Try doing that!

We need to stop trying to change the things that cannot be changed ...

Love, and take care or yourself and your precious bundle ...

Martha

Last edited by Martha H; 10-28-2008 at 11:40 AM.

 
Old 10-28-2008, 12:54 PM   #5
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Re: Why do they do it?

Hi Martha,
Thanks for your message......
I want to make sure my posts are not coming across as though I am constantly fretting about this.....I know my priorities are my husband and son, not to worry. It's just that every once in a while things will act up, and they stir up emotions.....that's usually when I come here to vent with my friends. If I was to wait awhile, I'd probably be over it, and wouldnt post anything.....
My aunt actually doesnt call my mom, they dont speak. She called my Uncle this morning. My mom is all my Uncle has....the only person who will listen to him and offer him support. The rest of his siblings can not stand him anymore. It would be beneficial for her not to listen to it all of the time, but then is she not turning a blind eye to his pain? I know it's an ugly situation, but do we just not listen anymore because it interferes with our day and because we cant change it? When I hear those I love in pain, I listen. What I'm learning, is to let it go. I come here, vent about it.....and then I feel better. (thanks to my friends here). My idea in posting here today was just to say that I dont understand why people have to make a bad situation worse. As far as my aunt goes, she can say all she wants.....she lives 5 minutes away and can "walk" to the house if she chooses. In the past, Uncle has even offered to not be there, to leave the house, if they would come over and they refused. Now she is playing games, and saying she wants to see grandma, and wants him no where around when she does so. What right does she have to make stipulations when she has seen her "once" this entire year? Well, what little comfort my grandma has comes from the son who is with her 24/7, who holds her hand when she is frightened, who makes her yet another dinner when she throws the first one across the room. If Aunt had any sense, or could think of anyone but herself, she'd realize that if she truly wanted to see her mom, she would reach out to Uncle, minus her threats and attitude, and maybe she'd be a little more welcome.
I am not consumed by this, but when the incidents come up.....it's only human to be frustrated and annoyed by them.....I hope you guys understand. It's not that I'm trying to continue the negativity......but the bottom line is that people who walk away and leave others to handle this alone, need to answer for that, or at the very least, accept their responsibility for not showing any sort of compassion. She does not need to be there 24/7 to help grandma, just some time here and there to give Uncle a break, and to hold her hand when she is scared. Not too much to ask from a daughter in my book. My mom lives 3000 miles away from grandma, and visits 3 or 4 times a year...not alot of time, but she does everything she can. Plus she calls all the time to check in. My mom's love reaches further from across the ocean than her sisters from down the street......sad.....
Love, Caroline xo

 
Old 10-28-2008, 01:52 PM   #6
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Re: Why do they do it?

Dear Caroline,
Big hugs to your uncle! He deserves a medal, not only for caring for grandma, but for putting up with all this nonsense!

This sounds very familiar. My MIL, who I am now caring for as she deteriorates, tells about her experience caring for HER mother in law. This isn't a new, confused story. I've heard it for the last 25 years. It's true. Her husband's three sisters, who lived in the same town, refused to help take care of their mom. But they wanted to drop in to visit and "check up" on how it was going whenever it suited them. My MIL and FIL got sick of that, but they tolerated it for years. The final straw finally came when they insisted on seeing their mom yet again at a very inconvenient time --- FIL had cancer, MIL was working and caring for both her husband and his mom,etc. etc. The sisters said they'd take it to court. And they did! Guess what? The judge listened and said from now on they had to call ahead and make sure it was a convenient time for them to visit, or they could not visit at all ever again!

Document, document, document. Keep a journal (or encourage uncle to) of what goes on, when, and details. If she threatens to take it to court, call her bluff! And let her know you're aware of similar cases where family members who have not actively participated in caring for the person in question have been denied access! Ask her if that's what she really wants, but assure her you're ready to show up in court if it is.

This is hard enough for uncle without having to deal with all of this, too! I'm glad your mom is there for him!

Hang in there!
Emily

 
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Old 10-28-2008, 01:57 PM   #7
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Re: Why do they do it?

I don't have half the wisdom or experience of Deb and Martha, but my way of dealing with the drama folks is just to remain calm and reasonable. "I'm calling the court" Answer..ok, I hope something good come out of that. "I'm coming by and you'd better not be there." Answer, I'll leave once your here, I need a few hours to run errands. This approach has the added benefit of driving the drama folk crazy. The real elephant in the room, not that you or your mom can fix it, is your grandma's sense of abandonment when the infrequent visit ends. Of course it's possible that she would feel that even if Drama Aunt visited every day.
Praying for you

 
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Old 10-28-2008, 02:15 PM   #8
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Re: Why do they do it?

Caroline dear,

I understand what you are saying and why. We were just worried that you were being sucking into the horrors of the bitterness of the sister. I see what you wish to accomplish hon, but I don't think that your aunt will listen to your words. She will hear them, but she won't listen to what you are truly saying. You will only be wasting your breath and your patience. And, truth be told, it will be just be one more thing that she will be able to twist and spread as another half truth about you and your branch of the family. Your best bet is to not engage in trying to ask her to change at all. have the wisdom to know the difference in this case, my dear.

As difficult as it is to see and to bear witness to, you cannot step between your uncle and his sister in this case. THis is their war, not yours. You cannot drag this one into your generation. This war will end when your grandmother dies and then the waring factions will split with bitterness that will continue until the two of them die I am afraid-horrid as it may seem. PLease don't let it seep into yours also. I do applaud you for trying to defend your uncle and grandmother, it's admirable, but your aunt won't listen to you any more than she does her brother or your mother.

be strong and safe....

 
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Old 10-28-2008, 02:19 PM   #9
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Re: Why do they do it?

In NO way am I upset with what you said Caroline. Just playing the devils advocate and you spilled a lot of frustration on these pages. I think what you did see is exactly what Martha said.... their behavior has continued for so long that it is set in stone. The rational that was behind it has long since been lost in what is. You said yourself that you have distanced yourself as much as you can from the situation and you said earlier that your Mom was getting better about becoming upset about it. I just wanted you to realize the cycles that they are stuck in and that you can't fix it. Worry about what you can fix Your family is locked in an impossible situation....

No, your Aunt should not be able to demand the conditions of her visit. If she wants to see her Mother then show up while Uncle is there. If she doesn't want him around then volunteer to stay while he takes some time off. But I wanted you to see that was not what was going to happen. Honestly, I was getting more into your Aunt's head so you would see what her throught processes might be. You did ask why

Why people do the things they do? I am sure, in some way, they justify their own actions it in their own minds. That does't excuse their behavior but brings you a little closer to understanding. In many ways I am not like your aunt and the main one is because I am willing and truly want to do everything possible. But in one way I am like her. Where as her mind set prevents her from doing what she should, distance prevents me from doing what I would like to do. Even though the reasons are different the results are the same. The response that your Uncle has had and my sister has had are similary except for that fact there is a rational reason behind your Uncles response. Yet my family is also locked in an impossible situation... just like mine. So I do understand. Again.... be assured that in no way am I angry or upset by anything you said. I am glad you disagreed with me on some points, I expected you too, and I understand what you are saying. Sometimes it helps to step back and look at the other side to understand how you got where you are.

You are doing so much better handling this situation. I am glad you vented here. Keep doing it. I do understand the frustration because I have been ther recently as well. Each time, as you lift yourself above the drama, you get better at it You and I are working through this together!!! So know I am proud of you!!!

Love, deb

PS. Excellent advice Quetzal. I have following that line more so lately as well. (thanks to IBake and her glare) Smile and nod.....

Last edited by Gabriel; 10-28-2008 at 02:25 PM.

 
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Old 10-28-2008, 04:55 PM   #10
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Re: Why do they do it?

Oh ladies...
How I love you all!!!!!! You have no idea. I wish I could really know you all in life.....I'd be extending coffee invitations by the dozen!!!

Emily - thank you for understanding. What you are saying is exactly what I think my uncle is going through, he's had enough of "tolerating" their behaviour.....and is through grovelling for scraps.

QMom - you're so right about Grandma's feeling of abandonment. No matter what her illness, she still pines for them. Actually she fluctuates between missing them desperately and cursing them for leaving her. For 5 minutes here and there....that will give her a sense of having them around, only to lose them all over again. I know she's in late stages, but she knows. She tells us, when she's able.

Ibake - dearest Ibake.....you are right. Anything I say would be a waste of words and energy. I did give it some thought and decided not to call her. Mom also did not want me to call, and didnt want me to get upset. In my mind, I guess I knew even this morning that it would achieve nothing other than as you say to give her more things to twist and turn on me.......my emotions just get the better of me when I see people who give so much of themselves being hurt even more, you know?

Deb.....you are good, you are very good! Really you should be a therapist....you got me going on some good points eh? I'm so relieved I didnt say anything to upset you.....I would never want to do that. Thank you for making me really think and write out my thoughts. In doing so, it made me calm down. I understand exactly Deb what you're saying about the distance, that is what my mom says all the time. I know she'd be physically there so much if she was able to be. But there is a huge difference in not being "able" to be there because you cant, versus being 5 minutes away and not making an effort. Whether you live 3000 miles away or 5 minutes away, as long as you do your best in your situation, you should be proud. I have aunts that live in New Zealand and England, have not seen grandma in years, and never once even pick up the phone to ask how she is. It's all about whats in each persons heart.....my mom knows what's in hers.......you know whats in yours.......and I dont care what anyone says, no matter what, I have to believe in my heart that our loved ones know in their minds who loves them....and who cares for them. I know even far away my grandma has never ever cried for my mother. Because she knows she has not abandoned her.......the others, all 5 minutes away.....well, different situation obviously.
Thank you for saying I am getting better at this, that means alot!!! And if that's the case, it's because of all of you......

Thank you thank you thank you.........from the bottom of my heart.
Love, Caroline xo
P.S. Am feeling baby move now......there is still lots to smile about!

 
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Old 10-28-2008, 11:31 PM   #11
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Re: Why do they do it?

OH OH how exciting. Feeling the baby move makes it all the more real. You know it will not be long now before you feel that lovely bundle moving in your arms. So enjoy the miracle of life. Let the old fuddy duddy's take care of their own war and you bring in the beginning of a new era in your family history. Life is good You are doing great!!!

Love, deb

 
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