Thursday, September 20, 2012

Infertility, you thief

This month's PAIL theme post is about the loss that the infertility experience brings.  I've been mulling for weeks about it because it's a really emotional and fraught topic.

I decided that the thing I miss most about life before infertility and diagnosis is my sister in law.  This takes a little back story, so bear with me.

I think that the spouse's sibling and his wife are probably not going to have children at all.  I'm not sure why not, but it seems to be because they can't agree on whether or not or when to have them.  If I can guess accurately from watching them interact, it started with him being freaked about babies for whatever reason, continued with watching a few friends get divorced with small children in the balance, and has certainly included close observation of a family friend who got married because they were pregnant only to rapidly have a terrible split.

In this light, about 5 years ago, my sister in law was pretty excited first that we were going to start trying and then that we were pregnant.  I haven't asked, but I think she often thinks she'd like a child or two of her own but it's a complicated deal and after so many years of the debate, I imagine it's gotten old and it's easier to let it go.  I get that.  That's where we were about more biological children before the surprise pregnancy.  You can only hang onto heartache so long before you have to let it go.

We were about as close as we've ever been during the first chunk of my pregnancy with the kid.  We emailed, we joked, all that.  Then I had my appendix out and got the "very likely PCOS, probably it will be hard for you to get pregnant again" news (at the same time, while I was pretty drugged and still very sore and in the hospital, thanks great timing fairy!) along with the "and now you're a moderate risk pregnancy, so don't take anything for granted" message...  It was also midterms and my uncle was dying and I totally shut out everything but the next thing in front of me.  I shut out just about everyone too.  Yeah, I still occasionally had something to say to my sister in law, but it wasn't much.  I hardly had anything to say to myself.

And the kid arrived, later than expected but relatively healthy at first.  When she was a week old, she choked while nursing and got to spend a night in the hospital for observation to make sure there was no apnea going on.  Somehow it totally slipped our minds to tell our families about what was up, and I know it really upset my sister in law.  I think she felt slighted or something.  Honestly, we hadn't slept in a week and with the kid in the capable hands of nurses for the night, we were way too busy sleeping to do anything else.  Then it was back to the grind and a lot of trying to figure out what on earth we were doing.

Enter the post-kid phase where we started thinking about kid 2.  All that trusting, things will go really well and be perfect naivete had gone out the window when I had my appendix (well, actually an intestinal adhesion caused by scarring from ovarian cysts AND my sneaky appendix for good measure) out.  I was scared things wouldn't work out.  And then they didn't! Three times in a row!  It was a pretty disheartening thing, and we decided we'd keep it quiet.  We decided we'd not involve everyone in what could be so unpleasant and painful.

I don't know all of why my sister in law and her husband have decided on no children.  For all I know, it's because they've secretly and quietly had miscarriages too.  But my decision to be so secretive with all of my pain has put more distance between us, and I'm not sure how we can possibly bridge that gap now.  I lost a relationship to all the grief and stress and worry, and I suppose I could get about rebuilding it but it would be a long road and I just don't know if I have it in me to try.


  1. Of course I don't know everything, but I found myself in a similar situation. Try starting with "I feel bad that we don't seem to be as close as we once were. I recognize I may be at fault. I hope we can find a way to work past whatever is causing the distance between us." You'll be amazed at how far that can take you.

  2. I lost a best friend because of IF. It sucked 15 years of friendship...gone....And now she's pregnant with her second and I want to send a gift or something, but since we haven't talked in years now, I just don't know what to do...

    IF really does steal things from us....and relationships with important people is definitely one of the many things stolen...

  3. This is something that I can relate to, despite the circumstances be very different. I lost my SIL to IF too, in epic, irreparable fashion. And that sucks, because I think we could have been tremendous allies to each other, and extremely close lifelong friends. It is not something I have any interest in fixing now, and I am working on the guilt and grief from *that*. BAH! It just never ends, does it?

    I am sorry that keeping your struggles close to your hearts has caused you heartache in your relationships - truly. That is a difficult burden to bear. But I am thankful that you have a place to share it. ((hugs))

  4. I can really relate to this. I also lost a sister-in-law to this, though for different reasons. I tried to share my pain with her and open up to her, while she was pregnant with her second child and I was failing at getting and staying pregnant with my first, and she constantly made the conversation about her pain and how it wasn't easy for her, and ... it was just an enormous mess.

    I'm sorry that you lost a relationship, I know it's hard. It's impossible to erase that time lost, things that were said or not said. I have some guilt with how i handled things, too, and our relationship will never be what it was. I hope that with time you feel peace over it or can mend the relationship if that's what you want to do. hugs

  5. It is so sad to lose relationships, sometimes most particularly in this slow way. There are quite a few people in my life who I miss simply because we drifted apart for whatever reason. Perhaps Missy is on to something should you want to try to repair the relationship.