When I was diagnosed with Diminished Overian Reserve I was crushed but hopeful. After all, my whole life I’ve been told that I could do whatever I put my mind to and that had largely proved to be true. I followed the doctors orders, I exercised and ate right and took vitamins. I read success stories and thought positively and ate pineapple cores and meditated. I gave myself the shots exactly as described, on time and in the proper amounts. I was on time to every appointment and was an advocate for my own care. As the procedures failed to work I became more and more desperate. Finally, after 3 medicated cycles, 3 IUI’s, 3 rounds of IVF, 1 miscarriage and 2 clinics telling me I was no longer a viable candidate for IVF I turned to donor eggs.
My younger sister offered to donate her eggs but testing showed that she also had DOR. My RE advised that, based on her numbers (which were the same as mine when I started treatment) she and her soon to be husband should start trying right away but that they should be prepared that they may need medical intervention, and soon. The RE said it was unlikely that they would ever conceive naturally.
I moved on and eventually found a donor and we were blessed with twin boys from that donation cycle. My sister married soon after and they began trying right away. And they were successful almost right away. She told me she was pregnant the day before the gender reveal party for my twin boys. I felt nothing but relief that she was able to conceive at least one child naturally and would be able to avoid, for now, the long and painful path I had taken. She officially announced her pregnancy at my baby shower and I was happy to share the moment with her. My sons and her daughter were born 3 months apart. Just before her daughters first birthday she called me – she was pregnant again. I was shocked. Gone was the relief that she had naturally conceived and somehow managed to play the odds in her favor. In it’s place came darker, uglier feelings – envy, resentment and jealousy. I managed to squeak out the niceties and when I hung up the phone I cried long and hard. Her son was born just before her daughters 2nd birthday. I was at the park with my family yesterday when I got a text message from her. It was a sonogram with the message “Meet the tie breaker!”. I stopped, frozen. My husband took one look at my face and took the phone out of my hand. After a quick glance he rounded up the kids and dog and got everyone in to the car. I cried silently the whole way home. I’ve spent the last 12 hours grappling with complex feelings and inadequacies that I thought I had long ago put to rest.
I’m happy for my sister, kind of. I’m glad she doesn’t have to go through what I had to go through. I’m grateful that she can have the family she wants. But I’m sad for me and the process that I had to go through to conceive. I’m sad that my babies aren’t wholly mine. I’m jealous that she beat the odds not once but 3 times. (And I’m well aware that she’s exploiting the fertile window after weaning, and I’m aware that the testing may have not been right and I’m aware that, despite our identical hormone levels and ages at diagnosis that our bodies don’t work the same). But I’m envious that she’s been able to grow her family the way she wants, with ease. I’m afraid that my family views her children differently than mine – her husband is certainly unkind to my kids. When I saw that message I once again felt the weight and struggle of my infertility held up against her easy fecundity and I felt inadequate. In that moment my journey ceased to feel like an accomplishment and once again took on the hue of failure.
I love my sons, now 3, with all of my heart and I wouldn’t trade them for 10 bio babies and a million dollars. But it hurts when people tell me how much they look like me. It hurts to not be able to fully claim them. And although we already talk about the “nice lady who shared her eggs” I would be lying if I told you that I’m not afraid of them rejecting me somehow when they understand their genetic origins. Infertility and loss pushed me to my limit – emotionally, physically and monetarily. I lost part of myself in the process and I don’t think I’ll ever get that back.
I know I’ll come to terms with this. I know I’ll love this new child just as much as I love the other two. I know, eventually, I’ll move past the pain and hurt and anger and resentment be able to embrace the joy and excitement of this new pregnancy (yeah, ok, maybe not so much). But this definitely shows me that my infertility wounds are not healed. I have a lot of work to do on myself. I just feel like I’ve done so much already and I’m so tired of fighting this same battle.