Friday, February 26, 2016

Things to not say to your infertile sister

As most who have read this blog for any length of time knows, I have three sisters.  I'm the oldest and have a no bullshit type of personality.  I've been described as mature beyond my years and as an "old soul" and I think that both of these descriptors are accurate.  The next sister is 356 days younger than I am (no fertility problems for my parents!).  This is the sister that had the baby a few weeks ago.  She's very sentimental, feels things very deeply (but only from her perspective), and generally sees the world through rose colored glasses.  I call her my big middle sister.  The next sister is four years younger than I am.  This is the sister that had the baby in February 2015.  This sister is dramatic and wears her feelings on her sleeve.  I call her my little middle sister.  My youngest sister is just over nine years younger than me.  She's the one who had the baby in June 2015.  This sister I'd classify as a follower (possibly leading to some of her questionable life choices) and has one of the funniest, most sarcastic personalities of anyone that you'll ever meet. 

For the little middle sister, pregnancy was a time to shine.  A time to be the center of attention.  Both she and asshole brother-in-law were both pretty unbearable during her pregnancy.  Her unbearableness may also be attributed to the fact that she found out she was pregnant less than three months after we received my devastating infertility diagnosis and I avoided her like the plague for the vast majority of her pregnancy.  But when she gave birth she was so understanding of my need to keep my distance for a bit, even though I never explicitly told her that it's what I was going to do or why I was going to do it.  My youngest turns into a mean bitch when she is pregnant.  It happened with all three of her (unplanned) pregnancies.  She also seemed to intuitively understand my absence and was not offended by it.  My big middle sister was amazing during her pregnancy.  She very rarely mentioned it and when she did, it was very thoughtful and within the natural flow of conversations.  She started to get a bit annoying towards the end, but nothing close to the other two.  I expected her to transition into parenthood much in the same way that she handled her pregnancy.  Boy was I wrong!

My two youngest sisters, even though they knew the least about my infertility journey, seemed to intuitively understand that I could be simultaneously elated for them and devastated for myself.  The words were never spoken, but there was an unspoken understanding that I would come to visit whenever I was ready and able and that my delay in visiting and meeting the baby was due to nothing but the fact that I needed to take care of myself.  With the birth of my nephew, I think that my sister lost any capacity to see things from another's perspective that she may have possessed. 

So without further ado, I present to you some of the gems that have come out of my big middle sister's mouth in the past few weeks.

When are you coming to visit?/I want you to come visit!/The baby misses you.
What I said: I'm really busy right now.  We'll make a trip in a few weeks.
What I wanted to say: When I get damn good and ready to./You don't always get what you want./He's like six days old and he hasn't met me so he can't possibly miss me.

You don't even understand how hard breastfeeding is!
What I said: You know damn well that I don't and I'm not a good person to complain to about this topic.
What I wanted to say: No fucking shit Sherlock.  But you can bet that I would have given just about anything to have the ability to try to breastfeed my own baby.

Detailed complaining about her lady parts hurting
What I said: Maybe you should talk to your doctor and not me about this......
What I wanted to say: Do you find this surprising?  You just pushed a human being out of your crotch.  It seems unreasonable to expect that this region of your body would snap back to normal after three days. 

I never got to have maternity pictures taken.
What I said: I'm really sorry to hear that.
What I wanted to say: It's not like the end of your pregnancy was a surprise.  You've had a due date for, oh, approximately eight months.  Had you bothered to plan ahead a little bit you could have prevented this problem.

I'm not sure about the safety of vaccines.
What I said: Are you fucking kidding me?  How many people around your age do you know that had Polio?  Smallpox?  Mumps?  Diphtheria?  Rubella? That's right.  None.  Because vaccines.  Go take a walk through an old cemetery and look at all of tiny grave markers for children.  If they'd been born a century later they probably wouldn't have died.  Because vaccines work and they are safe.  If you chose not to vaccinate your child you are a threat to public health and should be ashamed of yourself.
What I wanted to say: See above.

I don't want any pictures of my son on social media.
What I said: Ok......
What I wanted to say: Good luck with that.

There are a few others, I'm sure, but this is all that I can think of at the moment.  The part that I'm impressed with is that, with the exception of the breastfeeding one, none of these statements hurt me, and the breastfeeding one was just a little zinger.  Had any of these statements been made a year ago it would have been really hard for me.  But I was able to brush these comments off, laugh about them (because, really, who in their right mind would say these things to her sister that she knows can't have children), and go on with my day.  Time does heal.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

One week later

One week ago today I found out that my sister was in labor.  I also started my period that day, a whole five days earlier than I expected.  It was also Valentine's Day weekend.  We're not a cutesy romantic couple that make a big deal out of Valentine's Day, but we usually try to do something romantic around the day.  My period threw a wrench in that .  Then my sister going into labor threw a bigger wrench into any plans that we had. 

We didn't go out, but instead stayed in.  We ordered takeout.  We binged on Netflix.  It ended up being the perfect evening and it was exactly what I needed, considering the events of the day.

And my husband, after years of telling him that sometimes when I cry it's not exactly logical and I don't need him to solve my problems, I just need him to hold me and tell me he loves me and that everything is going to be ok, he did just that.  I think this is what I needed more than anything else.

Honestly, I'm dealing pretty well with the birth of my nephew.  This is not to say that I haven't had a big ugly cry (or three), but I seem to be bouncing back faster compared to the other two babies. 

The last two years have been two of the most challenging that I've experienced.  I found out that my ovaries crapped out a few decades ahead of schedule.  I found out that all three of my sisters were pregnant, and endured my own sadness in the midst of their happiness as all three babies were born.  I mean, 22 consecutive months of at least one sister being pregnant would be hard on anyone, infertility notwithstanding.

 The past two years have also led to immense personal growth, and the last week has shown me how far I've come.  I cried when I needed to, but mostly I just carried on with my life.  I allowed myself to feel all of the feelings and not feel bad about it.  This is what I think is different this time.

And it's odd.....I'm actually looking forward to meeting him.

I'm so thankful for all of you and for all of the kind words and love that you've shown me over the last week as well as in the 18 months or so since I started this blog.  All of you are why I'm doing as well as I am. 

Since I know that grief tends to ebb and flow and rouge waves hit out of nowhere every now and again, I reserve the right to crash later.  But right now I feel good, so I'm going to enjoy it.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

I (almost) have a new nephew

As I sit here writing this my sister is about 200 miles away, in a hospital, and in labor.  In all likelihood I will have a nephew by morning, or maybe even tonight before I go to bed.  Three sisters.  Three babies.  Three hundred sixty four days.  Twenty two consecutive months of at least one sister being pregnant.

I am so incredibly happy for my sister and brother-in-law.  This is a much wanted and much longed for baby.  Finally, at the end of a long struggle they will get their baby.  I really am happy for them.

But I am so sad for us.  Sad because a baby will never be our happy ending.  I know it will get better but right now it hurts and right now I want this to not be our life.

Tomorrow will be a new day.

Friday, February 5, 2016

A few simple requests

My sister has reached what I like to call the "batshit crazy" phase of her pregnancy.  Maybe it's just me, but I find women in late pregnancy to be pretty much unbearable.  She's at that point.

I talked to her this morning.  I've sort of put her due date out of my mind, but I realized how close she is based on how unbearable she was on the phone.  She cried because her hairdresser can't fit her in before her due date and she's going to have grey hairs in all of the pictures when the baby is born.  I bit my tongue so I didn't suggest that maybe this particular problem was a result of her failure to plan ahead.  I mean, she's known this was going to happen for a bit.  Then she launched into how overwhelmed she was with picking out a breast pump.  Again, I bit my tongue and didn't remind her that I do not have (nor will I ever have) experience with this particular device. 

Since she felt so comfortable talking about her pregnancy, I used it as a segue into "when the baby is born."  Specifically, I made a few requests that I didn't think were unreasonable.  When my niece was born last year I didn't have to foresight (or confidence) to set boundaries and make requests and as a result I ended up being bombarded with texts and calls and tagged in I don't even know how many pictures on Facebook.  The state it left me in wasn't pretty and it took me quite a while to claw myself out of it.  When my other niece was born a few months later I still wasn't in a great state of mind, but thankfully hubs' ran interference and protected me from a lot. It still hurt but at least I wasn't reduced to a sobbing mess on the floor.

This time I'm at a good place so I felt comfortable making a few requests.  I fully understand that this day (whenever it comes) isn't about me and that my sister deserves this day to be about her.  That being said I need to protect myself.  So I told her that I wouldn't be coming to visit until the baby was a few weeks old.  I requested that I not be tagged in any pictures on Facebook.  And I asked that I be informed of the birth by text instead of a phone call.

On some level I think that she understood why, even though I didn't explain my reasons.  There were tears but she agreed to my requests and said that she'd love to introduce us to her son whenever we we are ready to meet him.

I'm doing ok with all of this, though I reserve my right to lose it later if that's what I need to do.  At least I'm doing a lot better when compared to the birth of my nieces because anyone who's been reading this blog for any length of time knows that I didn't handle those two .  But I'm also a year removed from that.  I'm angry that infertility stole from me the ability to celebrate with my sister(s) on one of the happiest days of their life, but I'm being gentle with myself and allowing for the space that I need to get through this, and I think that I took big step this morning by advocating for myself and making a few simple requests.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Maybe someday I'll figure it all out

I'm having a bit of a crisis.  It's ridiculous.  Really ridiculous.  I hesitate to say it's a midlife crisis (since I hope to live longer than 70), but that's sort of what it feels like.  I'm turning 35 this year.  35 is the age where I thought I'd have all of my shit figured out.  Yet I don't have my shit figured out, not even close, and I'm feeling the itch to do something different and impulsive, but I don't know what.  The thing is, I'm genuinely happy with my life right now, so I don't even know what's gotten into me.  Tell me that I'm not the only one who gets like this sometimes.