Thursday, June 28, 2007

Baby, sister

The Fertile Myrtle sister or sister-in-law is something of an infertility cliche. Here you are, trying for months or years to get pregnant, and when you innocently turn up at a family gathering, someone suddenly wants to make an announcement. While you might be sincerely happy for the parents-to-be, it can be hard to get such an up-close-and-personal look at someone else's journey through pregnancy, birth, and parenthood.

My sister didn't get pregnant while I was struggling with infertility. Instead, she got a divorce. She was not-quite-21 when she got married, to the man we now affectionately refer to as "that worthless sumbitch", and she was also two months pregnant. The pregnancy wasn't an easy one, with significant nausea and pregnancy-induced hypertension. When the anatomy scan showed that my niece had a cleft lip and palate, we all worried about whether the baby would be otherwise healthy or whether the cleft was associated with a more serious genetic condition.

At the time of my niece's birth, children weren't really on the horizon for me yet. I was 25, and G and I had been dating for almost a year; while I was sure that we would get married by that point, and starting to think about when that might be, I knew he wasn't quite ready to go ring-shopping. G and I had already talked about having kids "someday", but I wasn't in any big rush yet.

But then there came Grace, and everything was suddenly different. She was born six years ago on Monday, and I adored her from the moment I first laid eyes on her. There's a photo I took of her at just a few minutes old, as they were wheeling her from the OR to the NICU (for a few hours' observation, because of the cleft). You can't tell to look at it, but that photo was taken at the exact instant my biological alarm clock went off and started ringing.

It took me by surprise, the sudden and unexpected intensity of baby-longing, and it took me months to get my emotional balance back. I eventually got myself under control, though, and focused on getting engaged and married, and to settling into our life together. We planned to wait a year before getting pregnant, then were forced to postpone it by maternity insurance coverage, and when I finally went off the Pill in May 2005, well, you know the rest.

During my pregnancy, I asked my sister if she wanted to have any more kids. She laughed and said, oh no, she never wanted to go through pregnancy and infancy again. She wasn't in a huge hurry to marry her very nice boyfriend, and he already has three children himself, and she thought four kids was plenty. When my babies were born, though, I looked at her, and I saw myself back when Grace was born. She held them, and smelled their little baby heads, and murmured to them, and I thought, she wants another baby.

She denied it at first, but the other week, she mentioned to me that she was seriously thinking about trying to get pregnant. I think this is overall a good idea, as her boyfriend is just the nicest guy imaginable, and she's in a better place in her life than in her first pregnancy. However, as it turns out, there's a catch: he had a vasectomy five years ago. So it's not going to be as easy as a few candles and a bottle of wine.

She is researching vasectomy reversal, but she's also thinking about going for an extraction and IVF/ICSI. The success rates of the reversal are not stellar, from what I understand, and you often wind up doing ICSI anyway. I don't think there is any female factor to contend with, which would weigh in favor of going straight to IVF, but she might just do it anyway. In her (and my) very unique situation, IVF is somewhat less expensive, which is a pretty major factor for her.

I hate that this is happening to her. Nobody ever wants bad things to happen to her loved ones, of course, but the more so when you have first-hand experience with it. I know her resolution probably won't come quite as easily as mine, either.

Welcome to my world, little sister. I'm sorry you're here.


Rich said...

Vasectomy reversal is more cost effective than IVF (see link below). Heck, it had been 15 years since my vasectomy, and the reversal still worked!

Good luck to you both.

Nico said...

Interesting what Rich said. I would have thought the opposite! Whatever your sis decides, I hope it works for her. Sometimes when I'm in a bad mood, or heard about yet another oops pregnancy I think that to make it fair everyone should have to experience infertility. But really, no-one should!!!

Anonymous said...

Vasectomy – Is it the Right Choice for You?

This question and many other questions are answered at: