What I Was

 I am a statistic.  Tomorrow, my fertility officially decreases just a bit more.  I turn 36.

I have never felt “old” a day in my life, but would you believe that some doctors would consider me to be of “advanced maternal age?’   Quite the lovely moniker isn’t it?  Kinda makes you think of your grandma.

I can’t help but think back to the girl I was 15 years ago.  I didn’t know it at the time, but those were my carefree, glory days.  My main concern was having enough money to buy nice clothes and whether I should cut and highlight my long, dark hair.   I took myself seriously, but still could laugh at myself in the mirror.   Life, still brimming with opportunities and promises, was soon to be sweeter.  My sister-in-law Elle (name has been changed), who had been married to my brother for just under two years, announced her pregnancy.  I was going to be an aunt for the first time! 

I’ll never forget the day, Elle made the big announcement in the family kitchen.  Most of us already knew, but to my other sister-in-law, who I will call “Cee”, it was the first time she heard the news.  Needless to say, she burst into sobs.    She cried that she had wanted to be the first in the family to have a baby–to be the first to bring a grandchild into the family.  I can still remember standing in the corner thinking that, sure, it would have been nice for Cee to have the first baby (she had been married much longer after all, but it was obviously Elle’s turn, so we should focus on her).

But to Cee, it wasn’t about having the first baby:  it was about having a baby, period.  Cee and my brother had been trying to conceive for about two years out of their seven-year marriage.  I vaguely knew of their struggles and knew what certain medical terms meant, but couldn’t fully appreciate what it meant to be infertile.  I only saw the situation in terms of my own experiences which were very limited.  As the months passed, Cee almost reached the point of hostility towards Elle, accusing her of getting pregnant just to torment her.   She said some pretty cruel things to Elle and that upset me because I hated conflict. 

At the time, I did not have the maturity or personal framework to support Cee.  Like most people, I only was concerned about what I wanted out of my own life–to finish college, marry, form friendships, etc.  I honestly wanted Cee to have a baby, but she and I never had a conversation about it.  I stayed away from her.  Her constant breakdowns made me uncomfortable.  I did the unthinkable–I judged her at one of the lowest points in her life. 

It never occured to me that Cee probably felt a large lump in her throat every time she saw a pregnant woman.  It never occured to me that Cee’s behavior was a reaction to the helplessness she felt inside. It never even crossed my mind that she spent many restless nights laying in bed wondering “Why me?”  I hadn’t realized that her life revolved around a calendar, a thermometer and darkness.   When she held my newborn nephew in her arms at the hospital, with tears streaming down her face, it never occured to me that she was experiencing the rawest form of grief anyone could ever imagine.  

Fast-forward to the present, I understand the place Cee was because I am now living it.  Yep, life’s funny like that.  I couldn’t support Cee through her ordeal because I was too busy being me.   Now I can write a book about it. 

This makes me realize that people are only, well, people.  In the fertility world, they say and do the most asinine, imbeclic, thoughtless things to those who struggle, but only because they have never walked in your shoes.   I hope this realization leads me to a path of forgiveness to those who have made my struggle harder.  It’s a start at least.

One month after Cee held my nephew in her arms, she became pregnant with her own baby.  She gave birth to her son that November and now has a daughter with her second husband.  I don’t see her very often, but I wish I could tell her that I understand now, that I’m sorry.  Ask for forgiveness for my thoughtless actions.  Maybe somebody–someday.


12 responses to this post.

  1. Oh my word, I cried my eyes out now, out of shame and out of my own pain. I mean we all have gone down this road, we all have that person we need to say sorry to but reading it, so raw. Find her, ask her for forgiveness as I am going to find my person…

    And a happy birhtday for tomorrow should I not be around to wish you!!


  2. Happy Birthday to you! Even if being of “advanced maternal age” kind of sucks. My wish for you is that you will be able to make this moniker true by actually getting you miracle baby this year!
    Your story of your 15-year-old-self and her sister-in-laws brought tears to my eyes. I hope you will be able to talk about this with her next time you see her.


  3. Posted by nothingifnotoptimistic on January 6, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    First off, Happy Birthday, I hope whatever you wished for when you blew out your candles (though I think we all could guess what it was) will be granted for you this year!

    I remember my fifteen year old self thinking that people with children were so tied down and couldn’t do anything they wanted, that their whole lives had to be wrapped around a kid. And now, only eight short years later, I’m dying to have my whole life wrapped up around a kid. 😦

    I’ve also been learning to forgive people who say the wrong things. It’s true, if they haven’t gone through even a second of questioning the possibility of children, they can’t know the pain of all this or how insensitive certain comments can be. But as I’ve learned, most of them mean well, but it gets a little lost in the translation.


  4. Here from the Roundup. First, Happy Birthday! And second, wow… It is amazing how we can look back on our younger selves and see each point where we have grown. Thank you for sharing!


  5. What a poingnant post! Isn’t it crazy to have hindsight and wish we had the knowledge back when it really mattered? I am new to your site from ICLW, and I just randomly selected your blog to be featured tonight! Good luck through your journey! Happy New Year!


  6. I used to always think that you can click your fingers and get pregnant, it troubles me that other people aren’t aware and think it, too, despite how I used to! I’m loving your blog, btw!


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