I have mentioned my sister is pregnant. Leah is 2 years older than me and we’ve always been close. This is her first child, the first grandchild in our family in 12 years, and everyone is very excited. Everyone except me.
I was at a family gathering this last weekend, Leah and her husband were there, and all anyone wanted to talk about was her baby. Her pregnancy has been harder for me to face than I expected, and I’m ashamed and annoyed that it bothers me as much as it does. I’ve had one frank, tearful conversation with Leah; the moral being Infertility Sucks. It sucks for Leah, since this joyous occasion for her is tainted by my pain. It sucks I can’t genuinely be happy for her; I try to, and I make an effort to inquire about her health, the baby, and I say “that’s so exciting!” even though it’s all out of obligation. I want to do what I can to make this as un-awkward as possible for all parties involved, and that means sticking a smile on my face and faking it. It sucks that this lifelong bond with my sister is suffering at a time when she least deserves it. It sucks that my mom and my other sister, Alexis, are also roped into this dual role of celebration with Leah and sympathy for me. It sucks that Leah knows they are showing restrained enthusiasm because of me, and that Leah doesn’t get to be the recipient of unbridled family excitement.
And it sucks for me. It’s been easier for me to dig deep and find sincere happiness and joy for friends’ and coworkers’ pregnancies. It’s different with Leah, I suppose because I feel some possession over the family’s reaction and everyone’s interest in her growing stomach. Those well wishes and inquiring questions were supposed to be for me. It sucks that I had hurt feelings from the beginning, when Leah announced her pregnancy to me in front of other people, and I had to bite back the emotion for hours until everyone left. That week no one reached out to see if I was ok with the news; even when I called my mom and we talked about “Leah’s pregnant! So exciting!” she didn’t even mention ANYTHING about how this might be hard for me. I don’t need my aunts or uncles or friends or coworkers to walk on eggshells around me, but I do need my mom and my sisters to proactively support me in my grief the same way they support Leah in her joy. And it sucks that they didn’t offer this freely, and in my bewilderment I thought maybe I was being selfish, and it took my husband calling my mom and admonishing her that she finally picked up the phone and asked “how are you doing with this?”
Even though we talked it out, it sucks those wounds still hurt, and that I’m jealous and I’m sad; I know it’s not a good look. It just sucks.
We are doing IVF at the beginning of August and the timing is precarious. We aren’t even sure if Ryan’s sperm will make viable embryos or if they will implant. We are hopeful, but the month of August will be one hurdle after the next through an egg retrieval, embryo transfer, 2WW and beta counts. My mom has declared August to also be the month of Leah’s baby shower, and is already group texting us about plans and details. She went as far as to offer my house for the location, which will happen on a cold day in hell. I think it comes from a good place; my new house and lovely reno being the one bright spot in our lives, and my mom maybe thinks I’d feel pride at showing it off? But a house hardly makes up for the inability to have a baby.
When Leah’s baby is born, late September, I will either be newly pregnant or perhaps grieving a loss or failed cycle.
There is no way around any of this but through it. My emotions and well-being are at stake, and so are my sister Leah’s. Our mental health and need for family’s support is not mutually exclusive, and we will be competing needs. I truly hope I have reason to celebrate in the next few months, but I know I have to go in with eyes wide open. Hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst, and knowing that August and September might be the best month’s of Leah’s entire life, and some of the worst for me.