From the forums:
In that time, three of my closest friends decided that they would like to start trying for a baby too. And each of them got pregnant within 1-2 months of trying. One of the friends is actually my sister and she just found out two weeks ago. She and I are very close, live on the SAME BLOCK, are close in age, and have weekly dinners together. Our husbands are also close.
She decided to try to get pregnant but didn’t want to fuss about it, so they just decided to stop birth control and see what happened. On Dec 29, I found out that my latest fertility treatment (IUI) failed. It was a big blow. The same day my sister (whose monthly cycle was perfectly lined up with mine!) told me that she had taken some tests and they were all negative. She then said that she had decided that she didn’t really feel ready anyway and was going to take a few months off from trying. I felt relieved because I knew that it would be painful to watch her get pregnant while we continued to struggle. The next day she called and said she had an error pregnancy test. She sent me a photo and, duh, it was positive. She didn’t even know how to read them…
Since then, I am just overcome with anger, jealousy, and sadness. We shared everything before this happened and now I can’t even think about her pregnancy without breaking down into tears. I literally can’t. I’ve seen her twice since then and we didn’t broach the topic at all. I always imagined that I’d be her confidante during her pregnancy — that I’d help her look at nursery themes, sew some outfits for the baby, offer some tips from my pregnancy, etc. But I always thought I’d be first. I never thought we’d still be trying after 8-9 months.
It’s a selfish, petty emotion, but I truly don’t know how to get past it. I know two weeks isn’t very long, but it hasn’t gotten any better so far. I cry all the time. I don’t sleep well. Everything seems bleak and hopeless. I do think that I am probably at a point where I could officially classify myself as depressed, in the clinical sense. And I plan to go back to the therapist that helped me with last year’s miscarriage.
My sister knows about the long struggle we’ve had and I know that she’s being careful not to say anything about her pregnancy for fear of upsetting me. I feel like it’s my job to let her know it’s ok to talk about it. And yet, I just can’t. I really just want to pretend it’s not happening.
But how do I help myself move forward, accept my sister’s good news, and be a part of this huge event in her life? Do I need to box up these feelings or is it possible to work through them (right now it doesn’t feel possible)?
P.S. Please, whatever you say, don’t tell me to “just relax and it will happen.” Studies have shown that stress does not affect the ability to conceive. For most people, having unprotected sex is all it takes –and that is relaxing! For those with problems, fertility treatments require constant attention and involvement. — Not Exactly Happy for My Sister
First of all, I’m so sorry for your fertility struggle. I haven’t experienced it myself, but I have close friends who have gone, and are going, through, exactly what you describe, and even as a friend it’s heartbreaking to watch. I can only imagine the disappointment and devastation month after month when all your efforts don’t result in a pregnancy. I wish there were something I could say to ease some of the pain, but if there are magic words, I don’t know them. All I can say is that so many people are rooting for you and keeping you in good thoughts.
As for your sister, I’m sure she feels awkward and guilty about how easily she became pregnant knowing how much you’ve struggled. It’s understandable that you feel angry and jealous and sad. And you probably feel guilty for feeling those things when what you’d really love is to share in your sister’s excitement and help temper some of her fears. It’s OK that you can’t do that right now. I’m sure she understands. But she IS your sister and this IS a pretty big moment in her life. You need to address it; you need to say SOMETHING, even if what you say is: “Somewhere in my heart I am so happy and excited for you, but right now my own sadness for myself is making it impossible to tap into that excitement, let alone express it to you. I’m going to need a little time to process my feelings before I can share in your good news. I wish I could tell you exactly how long I need, but I don’t know. And I wish I could be exactly what you need and deserve right now as a sister and a friend, but I can’t. And I’m sorry for that, and I hope you understand.”
I think giving yourself permission to sort of grieve, and acknowledging to your sister than you need some time, will relieve you from the pressure you feel right now to “perform” excitement and happiness. But unless you get pregnant soon, your sister’s pregnancy is going to sting. And I’m not sure there is a way to move past that. Obviously, going back to therapy will help you deal with these feelings of resentment and jealousy. I think travel could help if you’re able to find some time to get away. Do you have a pet? Have you considered getting one? I have several friends who have struggled with miscarriage and fertility issues report that getting pets was a wonderful way to help re-focus some of their energy and bring joy into their homes (look for an essay later this week by one of my friends about this very topic).
As your sister’s pregnancy progresses, be honest about your feelings and about your limitations. If, for example, you don’t have it in you to throw her a baby shower, don’t offer to do it. If you can’t stomach helping her get the nursery ready, don’t try. Find things you CAN do to stay connected to your sister that don’t sting too much or don’t remind you of what you don’t have. Your sister is still your sister. She’s still going to enjoy much of the same things she’s always enjoyed with you. So go to movies together and have your weekly dinners and maintain normalcy as much as you can so that she knows that, even if you can’t “be there” for her in the way you’d both like, you’re still there. You still love her and you still want to share in her life. There just might be parts of it right now, at this moment, that are a little too painful for you to be too involved in. If she’s the loving sister she sounds like she is, she’ll understand.
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Jess, it sounds like you and your sister are pretty close, and it sounds like she’s a good person. So maybe you two should just sit down and have a heart to heart. Let her know how much you are grieving. Let her know how sorry you are that you can’t be there for in the way you wish you could be. I would imagine she would react with empathy and caring. If you just get this all out in the open and off your chest, and she reassures you, I think you will feel a little better.
You are sad you haven’t been able to have a baby of your own. And then on top of it you feel like you’re letting your sister down, which probably makes you feel like a bit of a failure. If your sister was able to say, “It’s okay, I understand. We’ll get through this.” Wouldn’t that be a load off?