This past March, my Grandfather passed away. He had lived a long life, filled with lots of mischief and memories. He had also survived lung cancer, kidney failure and multiple hospitalizations, so it wasn't a great surprise when he finally passed. I miss him, though. We were close and I learned a lot about life from the old man.
The day before I was to fly back to the midwest for the funeral, my younger sister, Marie, called me. Grey was out of town on business and I needed to purchase a few items before the trip (tampons being one of them). The conversation started benignly, then she became quiet. Marie was well aware that Grey and I had been trying for over a year at that point and that I was hurting. She told me she had something to tell me, began to cry and told me she was pregnant. Apparently the birth control had failed and all of the sudden she found herself in a situation that was less than ideal. Somehow, I found the words to comfort her and assure her that, in that moment, everything would be alright. At the same time, I felt like my world was crumbling around me.
It still amazes me that infertility can turn one's world completely upside-down and inside out. Only a few years before, I would have been incredibly sympathetic and comforting. Even excited for the arrival of a new niece or nephew. But infertility colors everything. Instead of being excited, all of I could think of was why. Why is it someone on BIRTH CONTROL can get knock-up and I can't? Where is the father in this situation and why is he so lucky when he's only been in the picture for such a short time? Why her? Why not me? This inner dialogue is quickly followed by quilt and blame. I'm a bad sister, because I'm not being more supportive. I deserve this; I waited too long. Etc, etc.
I've been reflecting on that conversation a lot this past week. Part of the reason is that two days ago my sister gave birth. The other reason is because in a very short time, I start IVF meds. In a way, I get a fresh start from these recent events. All the pressure to produce my parent's first grandchild is gone. In addition, all the responsibility of being "the first" is also lifted. But, like death, there is pain that comes with all of this. I'm still scared that IVF isn't going to work and that we'll find ourselves at Christmas with a BFN. But I'm also grieving the loss of the way I saw life.
Like most midwestern girls, I attended a college that wasn't terribly close to home. Unlike my peers, instead of moving home and settling down, I relocated to another coast. I think everyone in my family secretly believed that it would simply be a matter of time before I moved home, taking on my role as the caregiver. Marrying Grey through the first wrench into those plans. Graduate school added another. Yet it was still believed that one day, I would see the light and start having babies. And it would be easy!
Infertility has ripped that life from me. What once was a given is now gone. My children won't be the first and, if I am so lucky to become pregnant, it will be viewed in a negative light by them. Never-mind adoption. But also the need to rush home is gone too. In a weird way, it's like the shackles have been unlocked, freeing me from a supposed life. All the issues are now wide out in the open and for the first time, I have some decisions to make.
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