Getting Pregnant

Dear Sister, I'm Sorry You Can't Have Children

by Celeste Yvonne
Originally Published: 
Two sisters cooking in the kitchen
Milles Studio / Shutterstock

Dear Sister,

We’ve never openly discussed your struggles with fertility. It’s been a taboo subject in our family, but I know you and your husband tried for years to get pregnant before deciding to adopt two amazing children.

I know you dealt with questions, pain and emotions I can’t even begin to understand. I’m sure you agonized over the decisions before you: keep trying, invest your savings into IVF, or adopt? You probably went through marital grief and heartache as you and your husband stood solid as one unit throughout. But I can only imagine. You also carried yourself strong and empowered throughout the struggle even though you must have been aching inside.

I’m sorry I can get pregnant and you can’t. I’m sorry I complained about the months I was trying to get pregnant. Months. What a joke! It must have been excruciating to see it come easily for me when you fought this battle for so long. How could you even listen to me? You must have wanted to slap me upside the head. But you didn’t. You listened, and you offered your support and sympathy.

I didn’t realize it would be so hard for you to bear witness to my pregnancy until it happened the first time. Initially, I was angry with your lack of interest. I complained to mom when you missed my baby shower. I was sad that you wouldn’t look at my belly, didn’t want to feel the movement when I told you my son was kicking, and didn’t ask me how I was feeling. I was being self-absorbed. I know that now.

But what does “having children” even mean? You may not be able to bear children, but you know far more about having children and being a mother than I do. You’ve raised your two kids for more than 10 years, building them into intelligent, responsible and socially conscious preteens. I may have carried a baby in my belly for nine months, but I’ve watched your steps carefully as you’ve carved the path toward what it means to be a successful parent.

I was worried that the tension from the pregnancy would bleed into the relationship between you and your new nephew, but it felt like a weight was lifted when my son arrived. The sadness and frustrations you were visibly experiencing dissipated quickly, and you embraced him with all the love in the world. I’m so grateful.

Now that I’m pregnant again with my second child, I see the mistakes I made the first time around. I was selfish for making it all about me when you must have been dying inside. I should have been more thoughtful to your feelings. You’ve suffered enough. I will not send you texts complaining about the “watermelon” in my belly or letting you know I felt hiccups for the first time. I’m sorry for any pain I put your through. At the time, I thought I was sharing joy and excitement, but I learned later it caused you grief.

Lastly, I’m sorry I will never send you this letter. You’ve been through enough, and there’s no need to rehash the pain and struggles. I will complete this pregnancy quietly and without fanfare. I’ll keep you informed with what you need to know, like the due date and baby’s sex, and keep the joys of pregnancy (first kicks, ultrasounds and blossoming belly) as well as the discomforts to myself, unless you ask.

Soon, the new baby will arrive, and this chapter will be over. I can’t wait to introduce you to him or her, so the baby can get the same outpouring of unconditional love you gave to my son. You’ve been the most amazing aunt and a wonderful sister. I’m sorry you can’t get pregnant, but you are such an inspiring mother. I have learned what it takes to be a mom from you. You were the person I called when postpartum hit me like a semi-truck and I felt the world collapsing around me, and you talked me through it.

Now that we’re both mothers, our bond is stronger than ever, and there is no mom I want to follow in this journey more than you, sis.

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