My sister had a baby last week.
In some other context, that would be a cause for great celebration for me. And a small part of me celebrates.
I finally stopped telling people that I have a new niece, because the reactions I was getting (CONGRATULATIONS!!!!) were not what my heart wanted to hear. I had one friend tell me what I wanted to hear…”I’m sorry.”
My sister and brother-in-law had a healthy baby girl following a planned, healthy pregnancy, and just the thought of it feels like a punch in the gut.
Part of me is glad that my sister doesn’t have the grief that I do, that she has gotten what she wants. A much bigger part of me wants to scream “IT’S NOT FAIR!” (not so original, I know). A much bigger part of me wants to crawl in a hole and never come out.
A much bigger part of me wants to wrest control from the universe and make it impossible for anyone to have children who hasn’t struggled and fought to do so.
I’ve been thinking about this idea of struggling for pregnancy/parenthood being what makes one “deserve” it (and the contrary) for a little while. I think what started it was a visit by a couple of friends earlier this month. I hadn’t seen these friends for three or four years, and was really looking forward to seeing them, as I had remembered how great it had been to hang out with them. (It isn’t always so easy for my husband and I to find couple friends that we are both equally enthusiastic about.) A couple of weeks before they arrived, my husband told me that he had just found out that she is pregnant. Suddenly, I didn’t even want to see them. I didn’t even want them to exist.
The first day and a half of the visit was tough. At some point (I think I would have exploded otherwise), after feeling more comfortable with K, I told her that Mr. X and I are having “fertility issues” (I’m still not sure why I did this). K then told me that she and Mr. K had had a hard time getting pregnant, and talked a little about how painful it was. All of a sudden, it was okay for me that she was pregnant. All of a sudden, she was allowed. She had struggled, she had hurt, therefore, she deserves it. After that, it wasn’t hard for me anymore that she was pregnant. She may be the only one of my friends right now who are pregnant whom I feel this way about, in fact.
Pretty fucked up, huh?
So here I am in this great pain, and part of the pain is that I have a new niece and I’m not happy about it . Part of the pain is that little voice in my head telling me what a bad person I am for not being happy for my sister, happy in general. Part of the pain comes from wanting the attention from my mom that my sister is getting (will I ever get that kind of attention from her?). Part of the pain comes from dreading the inevitable day when I travel back to my home state and meet the new bundle of joy. Part of the pain is some kind of strange sibling rivalry like I have never before experienced (I was always the successful one) and hating that I can’t just be a “good” sister. Part of the pain is feeling like a failure because I can’t seem to do what is so easy for so many people.
There are many parts to this pain.