The somewhat endearing cluelessness of my bro

Ah, my brother. He’s the one I’ve mentioned before who had undiagnosed and untreated Bipolar Disorder for most of his life, until recent years when he finally got the medication that he needed all along. He now has a wife and two children, a four-year-old girl and a newborn son, and he’s so much calmer and sweeter. He has always had this sweetness to him, but it would be bludgeoned by uncontrollable fits of rage. He went through a phase during which he would not leave his apartment for weeks and weeks and weeks, and many other phases that I’d rather leave undescribed. I know that I do not know the half of what he suffered, but what I do know makes me feel such compassion for him. Especially now that he is stable and is able to express love and affection with such ease and purity. He tells me he loves me and misses me, for example, with regularity—this is not the brother I grew up with. How crazy that all along he had this him inside him and he just needed the right medications to allow him to express his true nature.

He also expresses things that would probably really irritate me if they came from another person. I’ve been opening up to him about our situation, and he will respond with pretty vague statements that belie his unspoken I don’t know what to say and don’t want to say the wrong thing. But at other times he will come out with some classic lines that I’m sure many of you are quite familiar with, such as: “Huh, that’s too bad, sis. But you know Sally So-and-So [our cousin’s wife] had some trouble and now she’s got two kids!” But the thing he does now that is so over-the-top is combine statements of empathy with bits about his newborn son: “i wish things hadnt been so hard and hoping for the best for you guys—and sorry for the no caps or punctuation its hard to type with an infant in your lap lol.” Oh, bro. Bro, bro, bro. I let out a, “Oh, fuck you,” at that one, but honestly, the irritation passed pretty quickly and I actually laughed out loud. I know he doesn’t mean to cause me pain, because I know him. He wants my happiness as much as I do, just like I rejoice in his happiness, in the stable life of family and romantic love that we thought he would never be able to achieve.

So, I took a leap and told him a little bit about what is coming up for us. I gave him a little ART/IVF 101. I told him about the two frozen embryos that are going to be thawed and transferred into me. “So, if this works out, it’ll be twins,” I wrote. He wrote back, “Oh wow! Fraternal or identical twins?” I just stared at the screen, letting sink in the realization that he has not understood one word of what I’ve described to him about the procedure. “Fraternal,” I wrote back. “It’s two embryos.”

His reply: “Oh yeah, I know, I just wondered if they were going to force the egg to split or something.”

Palm-slap to forehead. Shook my head. Laughed. “No,” I wrote back. “Just transferring the two embryos in there…” and I changed the subject.

Must go get ready for my 9 a.m. appointment now. Today is the endometrial lining check! Since it was already at 9 mm a week ago, chances are all will be right on track (you need only a 7 mm lining to get the green light for transfer). Then to therapy. Then to shopping for dinner. Then making dinner. Then phone date with my dear friend in Laramie. The uncomplicated life backdrop to the main event I’ve been waiting for. Butterflies, butterflies…

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  1. I give you so much credit being so patient with your brother. With any illness that is stigmatized, it can be very difficult to do. But add in the fact that he has experienced prejudice and misunderstanding first hand, an it’s hard that he’s not tapping that empathy.

    Good luck with the lining check today! May it be nice and thick.

  2. Oh brother! I can imagine how tough it can be to bite your tongue in this situation. I am always amused when the average person asks if b/g twins are identical. Huh? No concept of human reproduction beyond the preferred roll in the hay! power to you my friend:-)

    GL for your lining check. Mine is Monday and I’m a little nervous since we didn’t let an intervening period come in before this next transfer..

  3. It’s nice that you’re able to be so understanding. I try to look at these moments of ignorance as good teaching opportunities. Most people really just have no clue! And most people really do mean well. It is almost laughable when you step back.

  4. Sounds like my sister-in-law. They mean well but have no clue! Good luck with the transfer :) Twins would be exciting.

  5. I’m sorry but I had to laugh out loud at this one!!! Your sweet but clueless brother means well. At least he is supportive. My step-son had to go through an infertility clinic to try to TTC. He was diagnosed with low sperm mobility but this is what he said to me: the clinic would probably have to do IVF with ICSI because of the low mobility of his “embryos”. No word of a lie!!! I had to give him a little lesson in fertility.

  6. Yes, I still get annoyed that some of my very smart friends can’t seem to grasp what an IUI was. I mean, it’s pretty simple people!

  7. HAHA OH BRO – perhaps he is just way ahead of most people and knows that embryo splitting is possible but illegal in the US? should we give them the benefit of the doubt!?

  8. Have everything crossed for you xxx

  9. Good Lucks!! I love your response to your brother…cause that would have been my knee jerk response too ;) Sending prayers and fertile vibes your way!

  10. Hah! My brother is a bit of a screw up, and I’ve never even tried to get into the specifics of ART with him. He says he’s sorry for what we’re going through, and that’s enough for me. At least he’s trying…but a couple of facepalms sound reasonable.

  11. Ha. He IS a guy afterall, one that is probably sleep deprived. I am so glad that you can see pass whatever he said and just laugh about it. Having everything crossed for you!

  12. Hey lady! So he’s a typical dude, even the smartest guy I know–who is fully aware of my ttc issues–will shove other peoples’ kids in my face and gush about how awesome they are. But it’s AHnoying and a bit hurtful, yes. The part about the twins is entertaining “split the egg”, I mean, wouldn’t it just be easier to clone an egg, rather than split it? Perhaps have some identical sextuplets?! Duh.
    Anyhow, thinking of you always & sending my love to your ute! XOXO


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