Hi all. I’m Jennie, Leah’s big sis. Her big big big sis. As in, she has 3 big sisters and I’m the very most oldest one. A few times people have asked if we’re twins, which is hilarious because I’m 13 years older than her. But we look a lot alike. I’m the one with the wrinkles and grey hair. It’s coming Leah!
I don’t know why I’ve picked such a big topic for my first guest blog appearance, but I think it’s just something I’d like to get off my chest.
My hubby and I started trying to get pregnant almost 10 years ago. It hasn’t happened. “Unexplained fertility” is what it’s called. How can that actually be a medical diagnosis? So irritatingly unhelpful. We’ve tried a few different treatments, but due to a combination of ethical concerns (that deserve a blog all their own) we’re only willing to go so far down the assisted fertility path.
As you may guess, this has been painful (could that BE any more understated?). I’ve always always ALWAYS wanted to have a baby. Many babies. I’ve been planning for it since I was 9. I’ve had names picked out since I was 11. I was the go-to-girl for babysitting in my neighbourhood.
I think pregnancy and birth and breast feeding are the coolest miracles ever. In high school, I missed the life education class where they showed a baby being born. Everyone told me I was lucky to be sick that day. But I hunted down the video and got permission to watch it during a lunch break. All by myself. With a box of tissues. I sobbed. I always sob when babies are born (even when Phoebe Buffay gave birth).
I’ve never given up hope that I’ll be blessed with a birth child. Girlfriends would get pregnant and be nervous about announcing their pregnancies to me. But it didn’t bother me. Other women suffering through infertility would avoid Mother’s Day services at church – but that didn’t bother me either. I could cuddle babies without a twinge. “I’m handling this surprisingly well,” I naively thought.
And then one day my baby sister got pregnant. Just a few months married … and then pregnant. La dee da … oops I’m pregnant *giggle*. I think my bucket of infertility pain had already been filling slowly, drip-by-monthly-disappointment-after-monthly-disappointment-drip. Drip drip drip. At a pace I was coping with. But when my baby sister got pregnant without even meaning to, the sorrow and pain faucet got stuck on full blast and the pain bucket poured over and splashed all over everything.
I think I’ve blocked out the actual memories of how agonizing it was, but I remember that I could hardly bear to be around Leah. I didn’t want to see that marvellous life growing inside her and I didn’t want to feel it kick and I certainly didn’t want to hear about the back aches and nausea and leaky breasts. “How dare you complain around me,” I raged … mostly to myself. The pain I was experiencing was awful, but the distance it put between me and Leah and the rest of the family was excruciating. I couldn’t talk myself out of it or through it or around it.
I was angry and bitter and sad. I’m typically such a practical person, the anger really threw me for a loop. Who was I angry at? God? The universe? Not really. Yes. Maybe. I didn’t want to be angry; I wanted to be with my family, enjoying the journey together. I don’t think I was jealous. Of course I was jealous.
I think I tried to explain to Leah. I can’t remember what I said. I know I asked her if she could be more sensitive about complaining about the pregnancy discomforts. And she respected that. Gosh, that poor pregnant kid was going through enough of her own – I’m sure my big sloppy bucket of pain was fairly incomprehensible to her.
My crazy baby sister wanted her whole family with her when she gave birth. WHO DOES THAT? But we’re a family who loves popping zits and pulling out splinters and removing stitches – so everyone planned to be there to watch our wacky sis/daughter push a life form out of her nethers.
Then the big day came. And I was in such a panic. I didn’t think I could handle it (my own baggage, that is – the birth would be a piece of cake … for me). I made excuses throughout the day while she breathed and focused and had attention lavished on her (as she should). Mum and our sisters kept me posted via text messages and phone calls. I couldn’t figure out what to do. *deep breaths* panic *more deep breaths* (who exactly is in labour here?) And then THE phone call happened. I can’t remember who called me (Jules?), but I could hear Leah … um … labouring in the background. I remember asking, “What’s that sound?” duh. “It’s Leah,” came the reply. The tears welled up and a wall of panic hit me. Oh no, I’m going to miss it!
My poor husband, he didn’t know what hit him. I went from humming and hawing and avoiding and whatevering … to a turbulent whirlwind of GET OUT OF MY WAY I NEED TO GET TO THE HOSPITAL RIGHT NOW MY BABY SISTER IS IN PAIN AND I NEED TO HELP PULL THAT BABY OUT OF HER!
And I made it. With plenty of time to spare. But Silas’s delivery is a whole different story. Leah gave me the best gift ever when she allowed me to be there for it. Despite the fact that I wasn’t there for her through her pregnancy.
So, now I’m 39 and Silas is 3 ½. I love that clever and nutty little fellow SO much it hurts. But it’s a good hurt. I popped in to Leah’s last night and he leapt into my arms and gave me the most adoring and enthusiastic, “HELLO JENNIE!” It melted my heart and made my day.
I’m still working through the infertility hurt and in some ways I’m looking forward to being done with my so-called fertile years, because then I can get therapy and mourn and move on. But just writing that last sentence made my stomach flop and twist, so I guess I’m not yet ready to let go of the hope.
Thanks for letting me spill.