When infertility bucks the natural order of things
Urban Dictionary definition of the natural order of things: “the way things were meant to be”
Growing up, I always just assumed certain things would happen; my parents would always be around, I would get married and have kids before I was “too old” ie. 30 (!) and I would always do things before by younger sister ie. Get a boyfriend, get my ears pierced, have a baby….
When reality throws you a curveball in a completely different direction, it can really mess with your “natural order” of thinking, thoughts and expectations that have been with you since childhood are suddenly called into question. It’s only in the past couple of years that I’ve really understood that my parents wont always be around, that getting married beyond 30 isn’t some kind of freak exception and that while it might have taken me 4 years to have a child, my sister ended up getting pregnant first time…
Trying to rationalise my sister’s pregnancy was incredibly hard. I thought she was ringing to tell me she’d gotten engaged, but she’d completely leapfrogged over that step!
It wasn’t entirely planned. I think she expected to be married first so essentially her natural order of things was also out of kilter when she found out, but for me, it felt like an avalanche had tumbled down and destroyed the path I was walking and I just couldn’t move forward from it.
We were just about to embark on our first round of IVF and while my family knew about it, I hadn’t really been completely honest about how much strength it had taken to get to this point, the number of doctor’s appointments, the number of tests we’d been threw and discussions we’d had about this next big step. It had been a hard decision to take knowing what we knew about the success rates and the amount of drugs and interventions we would need as part of the treatment. I think I’d found it all so overwhelming that I distilled so much of it when talking to my family as I didn’t want to keep reminding myself of what we were going through. The problem there was, they didn’t really know either.
That period was a really tough time for my family. I couldn’t bring myself to speak to my sister for 6 months, which she was obviously upset about given her situation and the fact she was a bit confused and surprised by it all as well.
I remember distinctly how my mind felt during that time. It was completely shaken up – like everything I understood about my role in my family, the natural order of things had been turned on its head and oh the irony of a surprise baby versus a long awaited one and how the physiology of two sisters could be so vastly different.
It felt like my sister and I were now living in dramatically different worlds and my poor parents were stuck in the middle trying to support us both and desperately trying to get their family back together.
I had to let a lot of “structured thought” go from my brain to accept what was happening which was hard as it had been well rooted in there for years. I’m the older sister, I should have the baby first…when you say it out loud it does sound a bit childish, which is essentially where it stemmed from!
As I came to terms with what was happening, a lot of shifting had to be done. The main blocker was coming to terms with the fact that life does not follow a logical order, or perhaps it does, but it’s not often the one that you’ve been planning! Some things are just completely out of our control and we just have to embrace them, learn from them and adapt with them as the natural order of things will be different from one person to the next.
I found the strength to talk to my sister just before my treatment started and we worked through a lot of difficult emotions together. Sadly, our first cycle ended in miscarriage but I managed to focus on the imminent birth of my nephew instead and how much joy he would bring to the lives of our family, which he absolutely has done and now there is hope of a little cousin for him, the timeframes, orders and life plans just pale into insignificance.
In the grand scheme of things, the natural order will be what it will be and the only thing we know for sure is what’s happening right here and now and right now we couldn’t be happier 😊
Have you struggled with your perception of how things should naturally flow during your fertility journey? How have you reacted to pregnancies in your family from younger siblings? Wherever you are on your fertility journey, I’d love to hear from you!