This is part of a two post series. Read the second part, “When You Keep Having Kids…And Your Sister Can’t” here.
My little sister was born when I was 3 years old. We grew up really close, and shared everything. Toys, friends, even the chicken pox. Throughout the years, she always wanted to do everything I did–when she was in preschool she would sit at the dining room table while I was doing my homework, and my mother would have to give her an assignment too. One time she even took my practice spelling test, and I think she did better on it than I did!
As we got older, and figured out our own directions, our lives were still similar in a lot of ways. We went to the same college, got married within six months of each other, and started talking about expanding our families right around the same time. I envisioned holidays, birthday parties, and backyard BBQs, with both of us having little ones running around together. Just about six months after my husband and I started trying, my sister announced that she was pregnant. I was so happy for her, and figured I would be next. Her child would be a few months older than mine, but that was OK.
My nephew was born in November 2006, two months premature, small but healthy. He was adorable, and I loved being an aunt. The only problem–I still wasn’t pregnant. And I wasn’t pregnant a year and half later, when my sister told me that she was pregnant again. My second nephew was born in February of 2009, after I had gone through three rounds of IUI, found out I had thyroid cancer, and put conceiving on hold for surgery and radioactive iodine treatment. In 2010, I completed my first round of (unsuccessful) IVF, and was beginning to lose hope of ever becoming a mom.
During the next five years, I watched my nephews grow. The family holidays, birthday parties, and BBQs all happened, but I was always the aunt. My husband loved playing with the boys, letting them climb all over him and throwing balls to them in backyard baseball games. As much as watching him with them made me smile, it always hurt too, because he wanted so much to be a dad. Over this time period, we pursued adoption for a few years, found a new reproductive endocrinologist, and went through four more rounds of IVF (including one that was initially successful, but we lost our baby boy at 25 weeks gestation when I developed early onset preeclampsia). Each time something didn’t work, I would think I was done; I just couldn’t emotionally go through another procedure, another let down, another failure. And then I would watch my little sister with her children, put on my brave face, and figure out what was next.
From the time my little sister was born, I think I was her inspiration. She always wanted to be just like me. The last nine years, I have wanted to be just like her. She has been there for me every step of the way, always asking what I needed, what she could do, how she could make it better. I think she may have been more excited than I was this past fall, when we found out that the latest round of IVF worked, and that I was pregnant. As I approach week 32 in a so far healthy pregnancy, I know that my sister will be an inspiration to my daughter when she arrives in eight short weeks. I can’t wait to call her Aunt.