Being the Big Sister.

April 1, 2010 at 6:29 am | Posted in Infertility, My life | 12 Comments

I wasn’t what you would call an empathetic big sister. I mean, when I was a kid, I loved my little brother and sister, but I was one of those I-can-do-whatever-I-want-to-them-but-if-you-even-LOOK-at-them-sideways-I’ll-kick-your-ass sort of siblings.

But when it came to making sure to making sure they were set up for real life, I was all over it. I was the one who told my sister about puberty and what to expect. I was the one she told when she got her first AF. I was also the one who spent a couple hours on a park bench with a bag of M&Ms and told her what to expect with sex.

We were on the phone last night, talking about all of this. She recounted the time how I locked her in a bathroom and told her that she wasn’t coming out until she learned how to properly insert a tampon.

(I really only have vague memories of that.)

And then we started talking about IF. About how now that she’s doing IUIs, it’s even more disappointing when it doesn’t work. How she didn’t expect that. And how she wanted to give blood at her school’s drive after the last failed one but let her very well meaning but clueless coworkers tell her it was a bad idea if she was trying to get pregnant. How she cried when she got home, without having given blood.

And she said “I just wanted to feel NORMAL.”

I tried to say the right thing, I really did.

I told her that my experience with IF is that it’s sometimes a good thing to take a cycle or two off, to just refocus on what she HAS in her life, not what she doesn’t. I told her how EMOTIONALLY draining the trying was for me, and how the few times we took a break helped refill those emotional reserves. I told her I wished I had a crystal ball to tell her where, when, and how she will be a parent.

But I don’t KNOW what the right thing is.

I don’t know how to help her.

I wish it was as easy as locking her in the bathroom and telling her not to come out until she’s pregnant.



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  1. Awww sweetie, I don’t have a sister, but I am glad that it sounds like you were an amazing one. I think what you said was 100% right. I pray that she will get there to, and I think it is amazing to have a sister to hold your hand through the whole thing.

    Big Hugs,

  2. Locking her in the bathroom, eh? Sounds like something I’d do… but of course it won’t work this time.

    I think you’re doing well. The main thing is to listen and help her bounce her thoughts around, without platitudes or assvice – I mean, it’s tricky, but it’s a lot, and you shouldn’t underestimate it. Any practical help, of course.

    You just wish there was more, right?


  3. What you did is helping and it’s truly the best kind of help. To let someone know that you’re in their shoes and you know how it feels is the best kind of help you can offer.

  4. I am having similar issues with my brother. He and my SIL are trying. They have had 3 IUIs, and one cycle of IVF so far. And its so hard to see your sibling go through something so familar, yet different. I think all we can do is be there for them.

  5. just keep being there for her. I hope that she gets her BFP soon

  6. The unfortunate thing, of course, is that *she* probably doesn’t even really know what she needs along the way…other than to become pregnant. Makes an already difficult situation even harder.

    Hugs to both of you! I hope her time is soon.

  7. Just the fact that she has someone in real life to talk to about these things, someone who gets it – that is HUGE. I wish I had that.

    You don’t have to have all the right answers. You just have to be there for her – and you are doing that.

  8. I can imagine how tough it would be to not be able to fix this, especially when you know first hand how much it hurts.

    I hope your sister has success soon.

  9. I’m a big sister too, and I KNOW how hard it is to see someone you love so completely in pain and distress. I always feel so completely inadequate when my sis calls me in the midst of yet another life crisis or hard time and there’s literally nothing I can do but listen and love her. But she always tells me it’s enough – more than that, it’s something very few other people in her life can give her – that unconditional compassionate love, abiding with her in her pain. And in that context, the well-chosen and thoughtful little word of advice or suggestion comes not as insensitive “assvice” but can actually be a powerful word of wisdom, especially if you’ve been there yourself – a hint towards something that will actually help pull her out of the place she’s in.

    I just feel you on this one.

  10. That sucks. It’s too bad that bathroom trick doesn’t still work, man we would spend a lot of time in the bathroom!

    I miss my sister so much. I too was the one who told her about menstrual cycles and sex and heart ache and how to get back at guys who were clueless or disrespectful…..

    I am so glad your sister has you through all of this. I am glad you have her too.

  11. I think just being there, so she knows you’ve gone through it and she can talk to you, is huge. Most of us, I think, would agree that we are a lot more forgiving of less than perfect advice when it comes from someone who’s been there. So you don’t need to worry. It sounds like you are doing the right thing, and your advice was right on target, though, and I am sure she appreciates it.

  12. You have made yourself available to her, that’s what she needs. She knows you are there for her no matter what. That, bottom line, is the BEST thing.

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