This is going to be an incredibly and brutally honest post because I don't know how else to say it. There are feelings that will be shared that I feel shame for, and that I feel should be hidden, but they're raw and honest and so very real. If you're the friend or family member of someone who struggles with infertility, I feel they're something you should read, because whether you like it or not, no matter how happy your infertile friend is to your face, they're struggling with something. Maybe not all of what I'm struggling with, but some of it. A lot of it is contradictory, and I'll get into that. And if my family finds this, I'm sorry. You all know I advocate, and that means sharing tough stuff to make others aware so we can all be more loving. This isn't meant to hurt you, ever, and I love you. My goal is and always will be to help others feel less alone. Your compassion and love are appreciated.
A little background on my relationship with my sister: we're 3.5 years apart, and the only siblings in our family. We fought a lot growing up. A lot. Sometimes violently - hitting kicking, punching. I was NOT a nice big sister. And yet, M, my now 29-year-old sister, is an incredible person. We didn't have the typical birth order roles you think of, where the oldest (me) has all the restrictions and curfews and is the overachieving Type A. I had it pretty easy, and M was the "normal" first born type. She's always been the best at everything. She was the better athlete, the better student. She never gave our parents a scare by dropping out of college (don't worry, I went back and then earned a master's degree). She knew her major from day 1 and followed in our mother's footsteps. She married the man with more earning potential, is smarter with money, has the bigger house. There's plenty to envy, so yes, there's some jealousy. And now, she's having the first grandkid, which will only be followed by other grandchildren that are hers. She's got it all.
She also struggles. When we were little, she was heavier. I had our mom's skinny-legged, lanky build, and she was more like Dad's side of the family. I wasn't nice about that with her, either, and it's my biggest life's regret. Her first or second year in college, she went away to be a camp counselor and was so homesick, she couldn't eat or sleep or function. She came home - I don't even know how many pounds, but a lot - much skinnier after about 3 or 4 weeks, and she's stayed that way, or even slimmer, for over 8 years. Because of my teasing, weight and health is not an easy topic for us. I'm now the fat one, and she's the skinny one, though there's worry and evidence that her weight is not always achieved by healthy means. Like I said, my biggest regret, truly. It's been hard and heartbreaking, and I have tremendous guilt for how our relationship has played out.
Like I said, she's now pregnant. She told me on November 18th, via email, as I'd asked, as I knew it would be easiest for me. If she'd called an told me, she would have heard an awful sob followed by my phone hitting the entertainment center. Email allowed me to have my (one and a half hour) moment before I responded that I was happy for her. It was a good five minutes of crying before I could even tell my husband. It was not my proudest moment. And it's also where the conflicting emotions began. She found out she was pregnant on the 14th, at her first appointment with an RE to discuss PCOS. It was the weekend Buddy and I were having our Friendsgiving. Somehow, it was decided that the info should be withheld from me until after the party so as not to ruin my weekend. Thoughtful. And yet, it made me feel like I was a landmine. On the one hand, I want to be treated like a normal person, since I am. And on the other, I do require "kid gloves" at times. And in this case, my family erred on the side of kid gloves. I get it. I appreciate it, but it makes me feel like things are hidden from me. It makes the elephant in the room feel bigger and grayer and elephantier. It's "damned if you do, damned if you dont," because if they told me before my party, I would have been upset. It makes me feel like there's no easy way to deal with me, and that sucks.
Since being told of my sister's pregnancy, there has been almost no mention of it, aside from a couple of questions I feel I have to ask so as not to be completely disengaged, disinterested, and heartless. She struggled with morning sickness, and I inquired as to how she was doing, after being shamed by my mom ("she's been sick. You should care."). She asked me who to go to for an OB/GYN (which had me VERY upset). Other than that, nothing. I figured out today that she's about 17 weeks along, which means she'll be finding out the sex by the end of February. And again, I'm conflicted - Buddy and I wanted a girl. What if it's a girl? Will that make me happy or jealous? What if the name they pick sucks? Or, alternatively, what if it was on our list, and I feel angry that she got to use it and we didn't? Will I feel more connected if I know the sex as opposed to it being an unidentified fetus?
I have so many emotions, honestly. I'm happy for her - she wanted and is having a baby. I'm sad - I'm not having one. I'm jealous - she gets to give my grandparents a grandchild and I don't. Add onto all of this, she's just moved back from Washington State - we've never lived in the same city as adults. As I told my therapist, I'm just not ready. Her moving here would be a shift in our relationship; her having a baby would be a shift in our relationship. I felt I could handle one, but both seems like so much. When I tell people that she's moving here and that she's expecting, the common response is "you must be so excited." But I'm not. I'm terrified, angry. I'm mourning our space, quite honestly.
Buddy and I have had this city mostly to ourselves for 6 years. We live 10 minutes from his parents and see them probably 2-3 times a month. We see mine (2 hours away) every 4-6 weeks. We enjoy a lot of freedom. My sister being here will change that, understandably. She is closer with my parents than I am (I think - I assume) and I imagine she'll want to see them every 2-3 weeks. And if she sees them, I feel the assumption id that I should make the effort, too. It's not that I don't want to see them, but it puts extra pressure on us. She and my BIL are looking at homes anywhere from 40-60 minutes, one way, from us. That's big if we're going to be expected to join in every time my sister has my parents up. And we'd be driving an hour each way to do what? Hang out? With my pregnant sister?
There it is. The first thing I think with all of this is "my pregnant sister." And the thought of just hanging out with her and her growing belly is what gets me anxious. If she'd stayed in Seattle, I wouldn't have to see all this. It would be an abstract idea, and I would see her at her baby shower (I can handle that, I did it with my best friend and survived) and then she'd have a baby and at some point, she'd fly here with it and I'd meet it. But she's here now, for the foreseeable future. And it's all not very far away in comparison, and there's no nice way to say to your sister, "nope, thanks for the brunch invite, but I have no desire to see Mom and Dad fawn all over your fetus and hear you talk about registry shopping and about how the half a million dollar home you saw yesterday isn't just perfect for your child-rearing vision." Nope. It makes my pulse quicken just thinking about it.
I'm worried about how everyone will perceive me - from the people I tell that I'm going to be an aunt, to my parents, to my husband, to my sister. I'm worried people will think I'm heartless and selfish. I'm worried my parents - namely my mom - will think I'm not being sisterly and will shame my for my feelings. I'm worried my husband will tire of my reaction to pregnancies and stop being my rock. I'm worried that my chance to build a good adult relationship with my sister will be ruined by my feelings in the next 5 months. Or that it's already been ruined, considering we've had exactly .38 conversations about her pregnancy since November.
There is just so much. All of it feels shitty. It's all constantly in my head. I'm regularly trying to figure out how I'm going to deal with it, how I'll avoid it, how I'll face it. My therapist has been wonderful. After graduating after 6 months of twice-monthly therapy, I saw her only once when my best friend from high school told me she was pregnant, just about a year ago. And now I'm back to biweekly appointments to keep my thoughts and feelings from boiling over. This is a crisis for me, and it's awful and I hate it. I don't hate that M is pregnant. I hate that it's a crisis. We're all being robbed - M of getting to enjoy every bit of pregnancy with her whole family, my mom and dad of getting to share their impending grandparethood with the world, and me of being an excited expectant aunt. No one wins.