Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Sister Risk

Australia's Three Sisters

Point one: I have two sisters.  One is 28, the other one (whom I wrote about in my last post) is 31.

Point two:  My first FSH test was at age 28, and it was a detestable 24.

Point three:  Doctors have told me that there is a 1/3 chance that my sisters will have this life sucking hog that is known as diminished ovarian reserve.

Point four: I shared points two and three with them with them several years ago.

Point five: My mother had five children before she was 31.  A few of us were conceived due to the failure of various birth control methods.   My mother confided in me that she was on the pill for the first two months of her pregnancy with me.  She didn't know she was pregnant.   She questions whether the hormones affected my reproductive development.  I  hope this is actually what happened, because it means that my sisters would not share the risk of premature ovarian failure.

Point six:  My mother went on to experience full menopause at relatively early, at age 47.  I have read there is a link to mother's menopause and her daughter's infertility.  It was one of the questions on the CCRM intake package.

Point seven: My sisters menstrual cycles are eerily familiar to my own.  They are irregular with several days of spotting before and after their period.

Point eight:  I'm pretty sure I that their biological clocks tick louder in my ears than theirs.

This is very annoying for me on many levels.   First, I'm annoyed that I am butting my nose into their business.  Second, I'm annoyed that my 28 year old sister doesn't seem to be worried about it.  I completely understand why my 31 year old sister is not looking to start a family.  She's still getting her life back in order after her stroke.

My youngest sister has lived with her boyfriend for three years.  They both have stable jobs and know that they "one day" want to have kids.   I don't ask her questions about when she is going to have babies or get married.   I know better than that.  I know how that insensitivity feels first hand.

At Christmas however, she brought up the topic!  I ferociously bit my tongue and tried my best not to cut her off and blurt out a bunch of loud shrieks and grunts that would somewhat resemble "FSH-AMH-TICK-TOCK-IVF-POAS-AHHHH!! MUST MAKE BABIES NOW!!".

She told me that they have things to work on in their relationship before they make the commitment of marriage and kids.  I totally get that.  It's the responsible, level headed thing to do.

This sister does everything in her own time.  She never rushes through much.  Things that would stress out other people don't stress her out.  Her job is dealing with other people's stressful life situations.   She has been known to come into town to visit our family from hours away and not make arrangements about whose house she is staying at.  Things just roll off her back.  It's one of her best qualities.  But it's also kind of annoying.

I don't think though that she understands how devastating our diagnosis of IF has been.  I don't think she has a clue about how much things can cost.  I think maybe I have bit my tongue too much - I don't think she understands the risk.  Emotionally, financially.  How could she?  She hasn't lived it and she only knows the high-level details of our treatments.  If she really knew what IF was like, she'd run from it as fast as she can.

I feel frustrated with myself.  I don't want her clock ticking in my ear too.  I have enough fertility problems to worry about, I don't need to invent(?) some for her too.


  1. Ugh - this is so so hard. I have the same feelings toward my sister, who is now 32. she offered to be our egg donor after our many IVF failures and when we had her blood sent to CCRM, found out she had highish FSH and abysmal AMH. That coupled with a low antral follicle count ruled her out as a donor but also made clear her childbearing years are not long. needless to say, b/c of us, she hears the TICK TOCK very loudly now, and yet, she declined to freeze her eggs, which baffled me. I suppose each person has to go their own route. If I were her, I'd be sorely tempted to at least throw away the birth control and see what happened. But I am not her. she also wants to get on better footing with boyfriend, finish school, do this, do that...and this is KNOWING that her fertility is coming to a much sooner than expected end and having watched our struggles fairly up close.

    I don't know your relationship with your sis, but it might be worth a heart to heart. After all, if you knew she was at elevated cancer risk or something else health-related, you'd speak up, wouldn't you? of course it might raise her anxiety, but then she has the info and can do with it what she wishes. a little blood work and an ultrasound would give her a lot of info she is currently lacking.

    good luck. family stuff is tough.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I've read a good chunk of your blog and it inspired me to start writing my own. :)

      I think you're right. Maybe she needs her anxiety level in this department raised a tad. I don't want her to be stressed, but I do want her to make an informed choice.

      It makes me wonder about what her boyfriend even knows about this. This affects him too and I feel like he should be aware as well. I might ask her if they have discussed it.

      She had her FSH tested a year ago at my encouragement. Her doctor told her it was "fine". She doesn't know the number, and she can't remember if it was on day three so I don't put much faith in the result. She hasn't had her AMH tested yet. I think I'll encourage her to at least get her AMH tested. And talk to her about egg freezing. Maybe the cost of that might be enough to get her thinking.

      I don't get why your sister didn't opt to freeze her eggs too. What are her reasons?

    2. my sis felt it was too expensive and too uncertain. since her antral follicle count is only 6 total, she felt she would need to do at least two cycles to have any sense of security and that that cost too much.

    3. I can definitely appreciate cost as a huge obstacle.

      It's just so hard to try forget what we know.

  2. wow. I feel your frustration and I would be frustrated too! I have POF and was diagnosed (FSH 25, AMH undetectable, follicle count 1-3) at age 25 when I went off the pil. When my genetic tests came back negative I relaxed a little bit in worrying about them. Even so, my sisters (21 and 17) are both are scheduled for FSH and AMH bloodwork. If they get even a slightly high number I will encourage my parents to pay for them to freeze their eggs, since that technology seems to have come a long way. Do you think your sisters would consider egg freezing? I am sure this is tough for you because you care about them and dont want them to go through what you went through.

    1. Wow, you were young too to get this news.

      I don't think they could afford egg freezing but I think I'll share the option with them. Maybe if she knew the cost it might get her thinking about making babies the old fashioned way.

      I definitely don't want her to go through this too.

      Thanks for the comment. :)

  3. I've been wondering if my sis is going through DOR as well as me, since she's had two miscarriages in the past year while trying for her second baby (she had her first at 31). It sucks to think that someone you love might have to go through the same pain and struggles that you're going through, but it's really hard for someone younger to imagine how this might be for them when they start trying. If you've brought it up to her before and she's decided she'd rather wait, it's all you can do. Hopefully she'll beat the odds and so will you!

    1. As I process this more, I think the problem I am experiencing is that I haven't brought it up fully. I've given her the big pieces of the puzzle but not a lot of the details surrounding the emotional and financial consequences of IF.

      I think after we talk about it again, I'll let it be.


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