Wednesday 9 January 2013

The Reflexive Responsive Pregnancy

Do you remember being in grade school and if you were wearing the same clothes as another kid, or playing with the same toys or games, you could be labelled as a 'copy cat'? Some times that behaviour doesn't leave the playground. I think most of us have observed situations where we've speculated that someone became pregnant, just because her friend or family member is expecting. Someone who hadn't indicated any plans for pregnancy, and may not even be in the best place to have a baby, but quickly conceived after the friend made her announcement. Maybe it's a feeling of not wanting to be left behind, or wanting the children to grow up together, but I suspect there's also an element of jealousy and insecurity. Many years ago I had a patient who came in for her yearly exam. She wanted to manipulate her birth control pills so she wouldn't have her period during her younger sister's upcoming wedding, but she asked about IUDs and other forms of long acting birth control as she and her husband didn't want kids any time soon, if at all. A few months later, the younger sister came into the office for a pregnancy test. She was in shock over her honeymoon conception. Three months later the older sister also presented for pregnancy testing. I wondered if the younger sister's pregnancy influenced her to change her mind in regards to their family planning. The younger sister stopped breastfeeding around 6 or 7 months and came into the office to discuss birth control and the older sister accompanied her. Her last period was 35 days ago, still likely to be irregular, but warranted running a pregnancy test. It was positive. Sure enough, the older sister had a positive pregnancy test three months later. I knew that was not a coincidence. It's such a different world for fertiles. I can't imagine what it must be like to command your own fertility, especially when it seems to be a reflexive responsive conception. Copy-cat.
Update on Co-worker: she's nine weeks along and although she feels like crap, the babies seem to be doing well. She broke the news to her mother on Christmas day by having her open a framed picture of the ultrasound photos. Her mother burst into tears of joy and hugged both Co-worker and her husband. About fifteen minutes later, after she had settled down and dried her eyes, she asked "Why did you frame two pictures?" Co-worker had to explain, "...because there are two babies..." The tears and hugs erupted again. However not every pregnancy announcement is as much fun. Co-worker was dreading telling her Sister-in-Law (SIL). Co-worker's SIL is the kernel of truth that contributes to negative stereotypes of only children. She's selfish, self-absorbed, self-centred, jealous and insecure -and those are her good qualities. On her first attempt to conceive, she became pregnant with boy/girl twins. She would go crazy once she learns they won't be the only twins in the family. Co-worker decided to break the news in stages, first disclose the pregnancy and then reveal that she's got two on board. After learning of Co-worker's pregnancy, the SIL listed all the ways that pregnancy and caring for one baby would be so much easier, just so everyone would know that every situation is always all about the SIL. She pressed Co-worker at least three or four times with the question, "Are you sure you're only having one?" A few days later, at a family gathering on New Year's Day and before Co-worker could drop the bomb about the twins, the SIL announced to everyone that they were trying to conceive...


  1. It really is a different world for fertiles. I can't even imagine what it must be like to get pregnant because someone else is. I would not be happy if I was your co-worker. She deserves the spotlight. The only good thing I take away from my last failed IVF is that my SIL got pregnant right after that and if it had worked I would have to share my pregnancy with her. After all this work, I want the attention to myself! (Did I mention I'm an only child?? haha)

    1. As you should! That's finding a silver lining!

  2. Both of my brother's wives got pregnant over the last 10 months, since we were diagnosed with infertility. Even though they were not doing it as a copy cat it still stings. And both of them got pregnant on their FIRST TRY. I can't stop imagining what that would be like...

  3. Ugh. The easy life of the fertiles. I can't believe someone would be so petty as to try to bring a child into the world just to one-up someone else, but I guess it takes all kinds!

  4. Truth be told, I worried that my parents and Mrytle's would think I was copying her if I conceived shortly after she announced, as they are under the impression that I don't want kids. I've joked with Mytrle that maybe we'll be pregnant at the same time when she has her second (which is seeming more of a possibility) and if anyone accuses me of copying I can show my infertility scars!