July 1, 2010 at 10:22 am | Posted in Infertility | 15 Comments

On my way home from work yesterday, I called my sister.

Because I had a hunch that yesterday would be a little tough on her emotionally.

Mostly because my sister is a gorgeous soul who grieves over the fact that she’s envious of someone else. Whereas I feel no compulsion to mask my selfishness, my sister is the type of person to tamp those bad feelings down because she feels like she should be thankful to have a niece, happy for my brother, etc etc.

And my hunch was right. In the middle of our conversation, she admitted that yesterday was emotional for her. Because people are ASKING about her plans now that both her sister and brother have kids. And when she tells them they’re having trouble, some say the wrong thing.

Like Oh, you should adopt! You’d make such a GREAT adoptive mom!

And yesterday, when a friend of hers, who happens to be pregnant, asked her about her next plans, my sister told her that they were taking a break this summer and focusing on enjoying all the stuff that they couldn’t do if they had a kid or if she were pregnant.

Her friend apparently reacted negatively.

And towards the end of our conversation, my sister asked me “okay, so I KNOW I have no control over the outcome. I think I’ve done a good job giving up on that. Should I give up on hope? Will THAT make it work?”

With those words, I swear to you, my heart shattered into a million pieces for her. I can barely type it without tearing up.

Because seriously. When you’re trying, and failing? You can talk about taking your life back from infertility all you want.

Like me. I used every last tool in Ali Domar’s book Conquering Infertility. We went on vacation. I ate what I wanted. Drank what I wanted, even when I was cycling. Etc.

But here’s the thing.

I never really got my life back until O was born.

Until I held him in my arms, there was such an empty place in my heart, filled with ache and darkness. I was nearly emptied by the years of trying – and failing – to get the thing we wanted more than anything. And I remember thinking that everything else was hollow.

That last embryo transfer almost three years ago? I vividly remember desperately trying to visualize wrapping our two embryos in my Hope. What little that remained. Because by then all I could see were the tattered remnants, torn from all the Fail.

I’ve been there – at that place where I was almost out of Hope.

And so I sat there, at a loss for words, wondering what to tell my sister.

I ended up telling her that about the only thing that CAN get her through the Suck of Infertility was hope. Hope that maybe the next cycle would work, that the next step she took might be the one which brings her the baby she so very much wants.

That Hope was one of the few things which sustained me through the blood draws, and the stirrups, and the CD1s and all the feelings of failure and fear and worry.

And that Hope is the thing which STILL sustains me, as we think about going back to Dr. HIT next week.

And as much as I wish that she never come to a place where she’s without Hope?

I know where she is. I’ve been there.

And here I stand, impotent with rage at the unfairness of it all, my heart broken for her.

And there’s nothing I can do.



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  1. My heart breaks for her, too. Yesterday was my 3 year anniversary of finding out I actually got a BFP and I relived a lot of the emotions that came with the years of trying and failing. I feel for your sister. I know it isn’t some great consolation, but she has a great friend, advocate, shoulder to lean on and person who gets it in you. I hope so much for her!

  2. This post made me cry. My heart breaks for your sister. I know the pain of my own infertility, but I cannot imagine watching a sibling go through the same thing. The only bright side in this is that she has you, her own blood–someone who has been through this, someone who has come out on the other side, and someone who will never tell her to “just adopt.” She’s very lucky to have you.

  3. she IS lucky to have you, to know there is shelter in her storm..a safe place for her to go where she can grieve and hang onto HOPE.

    I feel this feeling for so many of our IF friends, and my friends IRL still trying and not succeeding. It’s just not fair.

    but I am glad that your sister has you…that she can land somewhere soft on days that are just too hard.

    HUGS TO both of you

  4. Nope, there’s really really nothing to do. Sucks, bigtime.

    Hope is such a double edged sword. I have had about every feeling imaginable about it but I’ve come (even before the kids) to really value hope.

  5. All I can say is I’m glad she has YOU to talk too someone who has been there and been through it all. That is really the only thing she needs right now: a big sister to lean on who understands.
    As for hope. Well, I battled that ragged sword as well. I came to realize that if I lost hope there was no reason to keep ttc. So I clung to it, because I really wanted to be a mom.

  6. Oh that is hard. 😦 I’m really glad she has you to talk to. Breaks my heart too, I remember far too well.

    And yes… about you not knowing what to say because you didn’t get your life back until you got O. I feel the same way now. It was all worth it because I got what I wanted. But what if I hadn’t? How would it ever be okay? Sigh.

  7. My heart breaks for her as well. I know that it was hard on me emotionally when my niece was born last week, and I have an amazing little girl myself. I can only imagine what your sister is going through. I’m so glad she has you to lean on. Love and support make all the difference.

  8. I think it’s much, much harder being able to answer those questions that really don’t have answers when it’s someone you know IRL. It’s “easy” to tell someone on line to have hope and then click the red X and say a prayer for that friend knowing that the other 23 hrs and 59 minutes your day is your day. But with a friend, or in your case, your dear sister?? You have to figure out HOW to give her hope all but for a couple minutes a day without wearing yourself thin in the process. I don’t know what I’d tell my sister. I’ve struggled with how to talk with my dear friend who spent years “assuring” me God would answer my prayers (when that was the LAST thing I wanted to hear). Now to say this back feels like empty words, but what else can I say? I know some day everything will be OK. Maybe not the way my friend had planned, but OK nonetheless. You can’t just say that to your sister. It’s…different somehow.

  9. Oh Serenity how very sad. Tears come very easily as I read this post. I can only imagine how hard it would be to watch your sister suffer through infertility. And you are right, for those of us who keep going because we couldn’t imagine life ever being ok if we are not a mom, it is hard to answer that question. Because not all of us are successful… and then what.

    I remember my sister crying with me one day when one of my cycles had failed. I remember her saying that she would never be strong enough to do fertility treatment. I asked her what option she would have. She wanted children as much as I did. And I said “you never know how strong you are until you have to be … you just do what you have to do”

    I hope that your sister is successful soon. I hope she never has to face the day that hope dies. I am glad she has you to help her hang on to it.

  10. I am crying here. Crying for your sister because I remember wanting to give up hope so I would not be hurt again when I got yet another BFN. But yet , it was hope that kept me with my head above water during those years of waiting. I wrote a post about HOPE a few weeks before I found out I was pregnant , how I was letting Hope go because I could no longer deal with the disappointment … it is a terrible place to be at and I’ve been there after this (under different circumstances). I so HOPE for you sister that her dream of motherhood can become a reality. HUGS for the both of you

  11. I feel so badly for your sister. I did let go of hope; I went into my IVF cycle with the attitude of “I’m going to do what it takes to get on with my life.” I was very fatalistic.

    But I don’t really know how I would have picked up the pieces if I hadn’t brought home I & N. Because as soon as the second trimester began, I felt like a new person. I laughed and joked all the time. I smiled. I could start to relax around babies.

    And although infertility sneaks up in small ways, and parenting has been much more difficult (and frightening) than I had imagined, but the jealousy is mostly gone. I can look with interest at a pregnant woman. I can be around a dozen babies and hear people talk about TTC with just a little twinge, just enough to give me pause but not enough to make me feel like a bad person.

    And that’s what I told my brother when he said how bitter and envious his wife (SIL #1) has been lately.

  12. You are a great sister and friend. I know this stage of the game too. You see the pain, you want to help, you want anything you can to take that pain away from the person you love. Because you? You get that this pain is temporary and life does get better. Your sister doesn’t know that yet. She wants to believe, but there’s still that doubt and inability to know the process works. The hope, it kills us, but it’s what keeps us going.

  13. This is very well put.

    It’s so hard to hold onto that hope, and harder even to want to hold on sometimes. There’s the concept of holding onto someone’s hope for them. I wonder if your sister would find that comforting at this point, for you to hold her hope on her behalf?

    I’m sure, as you no doubt are, that she will learn to cope better, that things seem worse then better (and sometimes worse then better again, repeat), that they don’t just always go down and down and down. But you’re right that she does have to find her own way through that. You can cheer her on, but you can’t bring her to a place of peace or resolution.

    It’s hard.


  14. As hard as it is to go through fertility treatment yourself, I think it would be horrible to watch someone you love so dearly go through it without being able to fix it – especially when you know the pain all too well.

    I had to keep believing that I would have a baby one day. And I did. I hope your sister can find a way to hold onto hope, just a while longer. Because we know that it can happen. It just isn’t up to us when it happens.

  15. This paragraph spoke directly to my heart!! I couldnt have said it better!!

    “I never really got my life back until O was born.

    Until I held him in my arms, there was such an empty place in my heart, filled with ache and darkness. I was nearly emptied by the years of trying – and failing – to get the thing we wanted more than anything. And I remember thinking that everything else was hollow.”

    I swear I could quote you on my blog like you were Maya Angelou! Not kidding! I noticed you added my blog to your sidebar and that made me do the happy dance! (smiling shyly)

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