Year of the Dragon

February 20, 2012

I know. And I think they know I know, but they haven’t told me. So maybe they don’t know I know?

I don’t know.

My brother and his wife are going ahead with IVF. My SIL let my mom know not that long ago, and Mom told me, but neither my brother nor my SIL has told me directly, and I feel like it would be intrusive to bring it up with them. I know that it means something, that they’ve gotten to this point, that they are putting their hopes and resources into this means of moving forward with their family building. I know that IVF isn’t, by a long shot, a sure thing. And I know, better than most, that pregnancy isn’t a sure thing, either. If they don’t want to discuss it with many people, that’s completely understandable, and I want to respect that.

My brother called me on February 1, Dot’s birthday, and his voice sounded laden. It sounded as though he had something to say. And I really wanted to hear what he had to say, but Dot was doing a clingy, loud, “only Mommy can read me stories right now” piece of performance art, and after a while he (I think) gave up and said goodbye. And after Mom told me what they were going through right now, I look back and, in retrospect just say, Oh, shit. Because if it were me, and I’d called with a piece of news like that, and I’d been met with the crows and screeches of a cute, loud toddler, I would have backed out of the phone call, too, and probably would have done so much less graciously than my brother did.

I could be wrong, of course. I like to think he was going to tell me, because I like to think we are still that close, that he knows I’d be cheering them on and hoping hard for them and that my fingers would be crossed. But he may have just called for distraction, or there may not have been any more to it than the conveyance of birthday wishes to Dot.

I called last week, but there wasn’t that same sense of a need to talk coming from my brother. I didn’t indulge in any obvious fishing attempts, but I wanted to give him the chance to talk to me if he wanted to. And I don’t think he did. We discussed the weather. We discussed their new grill. There were some pauses that may have been slightly awkward, but not more than slightly. I tell him that I hope this is a good year for him and my SIL, and I think he reads some of what is behind my words, but I’m not sure.

I’m not oblivious to the fact that part of what’s going on here is that I’m sad not to be one of the people they trust with this information, but that’s really not important. This isn’t my story; it’s theirs. This isn’t about me; it’s about them.

I wish there was a way to let them know I’m rooting for them and hoping for them, without letting my hopes for them become one more part of the burden they’re already bearing. I wish there was a way to say “I’m here for you,” without trespassing. I wish there was a way to be there for them more substantially than this hoping from afar.

But it’s their story. I only see bits of it, from the outside. And I’m good at hoping from afar. So here I sit, fingers crossed, hoping hard, with all of my will and heart, that this is their year.

Come on, 2012. Come on, Year of the Dragon. Come on.



  1. Maybe try it in writing as a card or note? To make there be no pressure for response? Just I’m here?

  2. I think that it speaks to your love for your brother that you can respect what seems to be a need for privacy about this decision. I know everybody’s family works differently, but I know that if my brother told my mom something and didn’t ask her to keep it to herself, that he would assume she would tell me. At which point I would call him and say, “Listen, I just want you to know that Mom told me this and it’s fine if you don’t want to talk about it, but I am so hopeful for you guys.” But if that would put your mom in an awkward position, or you think that your brother would feel uncomfortable about you and your mom discussing his situation, etc., then I think you’re doing the right thing by hoping from afar. I know that when we were TTC, it was absolutely the LAST thing I wanted to discuss with my in-laws. Not because I don’t like them (I really have a mostly good relationship with them) but I just had no desire to discuss things like that with them. So your brother could be respecting your SIL’s wishes, which have nothing to do with you personally, but likely a sense of her own anxiety/frustration.

    And I’m keeping my fingers crossed for them and hoping the year of the Dragon is lucky for many of us.

  3. Hoping for them like crazy.

  4. Echoing your last sentence.

    It’s hard ground to traverse. My BIL and his wife went through IVF (worked first time, b/g twins, listen up Year of the Dragon) but it is something that we have never really discussed beyond an acknowledgment that this is how the twins came into being. It’s just so fraught and it’s difficult to know whether to ask or not to ask.

    And may I just say . . .

    This isn’t about me; it’s about them.

    that I think they are lucky to have you. Because you hoping from afar is certainly of more comfort and help than a hundred others who aren’t you.

  5. Wish all of this wasn’t so fraught (Catherine W used just the right word, no?) for you or your brother. I often wish that my family and I could just go back to being the kind of family that jokes about getting knocked up and too many babies and all of that. But we are an infertility/babyloss/birth defect/cancer family now and there’s just no chance.

    With that said, I hope that you are an auntie before the year is out. Hoping hard for your brother and SIL!

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