So, yeah. This infertility thing. I know there are people out there who would object to me being called an infertile because I do already have a child. But I’ve tried for almost two years to have another one, to no avail … that doesn’t exactly make me Fertile Myrtle, either, right?
Monikers aside, there are debates about whether secondary infertility is as hard as infertility the first time around. I’ve even witnessed exclusionary message board exchanges in which secondary infertiles were basically told to take a hike. People who are parents often just aren’t welcome in some of those realms.
Part of me understands. I had an early miscarriage the first time around, and although I only had to wait three months to get pregnant – and stay pregnant – I had convinced myself that I would never have my own baby. I don’t know how much of my hysteria can be blamed on hormones, how much was a personal pity-party and how much was authentic, so-scared-I-could smell-it fear, but there you go. I fled a pizza shop table in (hopefully well-hidden) tears when our best friends showed up with their brand new (second) baby. I glanced in scorn at pregnant women in coffee shops with cups of caffeine in their hands and pregnant women on the street with cigarettes. “I never did any of that,” I told myself. “Why can’t I have a baby? Why do they deserve to be pregnant and I don’t?”
I was in torment everywhere I went and everywhere I looked I saw something that reminded me that I wasn’t going to be a mother.
So I get it. I get how hard it must be to suffer through that feeling for months – or more often, years – at a time and how truly awful it must be for women in that place to hear from women who can also talk about the funny things their 3-year-old said that day.
It’s different for everyone, I suspect, but honestly, I have to say that I believe secondary infertility pales in comparison to infertility without a child of your own at home.
For me, having lived through those horrid months of wondering, this has been relatively easy.
Sometimes I positively ache because of my inability to conceive. I rage at my body’s failures and at the injustices in the [reproductive] world around me. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself, and sometimes I just plain feel sad.
I’m an only child – and while I’m beyond contented with my family situation, I know that deep down I would love to have a brother or sister – someone who would have shared my whole life with me and who would likely be around when my parents no longer are.
And I want my son to have that. I want Mojo to be able to hug and squabble with a little person who shares more than a playtime with him.
There’s also a real sadness for me in knowing that there might not be another child I can feel an overwhelming love for and of – and even in knowing that I might never again feel the movement inside my belly of someone I know I’ll love far more than I could ever love anyone or anything else, that I’ll never look into another tiny face that’s the perfect mix of my husband and me, that I’ll never again smell the sweet, downy-soft head of my own newborn baby … I could go on, but since many of you long for basically the same thing, what’s the need?
I feel alternately like my body has let me down and like I’ve let it down. I’ve taken – I am taking – all sorts of measures to heal it and to beat it into submission, and yet – nothing.
With all that said, I was sitting in the examining room waiting for my doctor to come in not long ago when I heard murmurs from the room next door. I couldn’t tell what words were being used, but when I heard a baby’s heartbeat on the Doppler, I could pretty much tell you what was being said. At one time, hearing that precious galloping noise coming from someone else’s exam room would have sent me over the edge. Even though I so want to hear it coming from my own, I didn’t begrudge that woman’s hearing it instead. It made me swoon.
Someday, maybe, if I’m really, really lucky, I’ll get to have another baby. I’m far from ready to give up the fight.
I’m not in this for the naming rights, so if you want to call me infertile, OK. And if you don’t, that’s OK, too. Just know that if you want a child, we have something in common. And I understand.