(warning -- this post contains a lot of self-obsessed babble, mostly stemming from the choices I've been privileged enough to make (or have had made for me). Read at your own risk).
I have to admit, I have a hard time accepting the fact that I'm infertile. I mean, how can I be considered infertile? I've been pregnant three times! No, really. I'm not infertile. I've just had some bad luck.
Plus, there's that whole "I already have a child" thing. I generally feel like an impostor, claiming to be infertile, when I'm already a mother. I almost feel as if, by calling myself infertile, I'm belittling the pain that women with primary infertility experience. They don't know if they'll ever experience the kinds of things that I used to take for granted. And especially when I'm writing on this blog, that fact is never far from my mind.
On the other hand, there are some aspects of secondary infertility that are both difficult and unique to this situation. For one thing, in addition to the pain that comes with not knowing if you'll ever have a baby, there's the background knowledge that your stupid, malfunctioning body may have consigned your child to being an "only." Given how much our siblings mean to The Boy and me, this really is a painful realization. I absolutely hate the idea of M growing up alone, without a brother or sister. And it breaks my heart to see her figuring out that her friends almost all have baby brothers or sisters now, and asking me if she can have one of her own. I never imagined having just one child, and facing up to that possibility is surprisingly painful.
And then there's the clock in the back of my head, ticking out a constant reminder of just how old M will be if and when I manage to give her a sibling. My "ideal" age difference was always 18-24 months apart. This past cycle's failure killed the possibility that our kids would be anything less than three years apart. God only knows how old M will be if we finally manage to have a baby. And at what point are siblings too far apart to be the kinds of friends we want them to be? At what point does a sibling become less of a gift to M and more of a burden, someone with whom to share resources, but not her life? (for the record, I'm a twin, and I have a brother 15 months older. The boy has two sibs, two and five years older than him. So clearly, we know nothing about widely-spaced families).
Finally, for me personally, one of the hardest parts about all of this has been that infertility interrupted my life plan already in progress. My plan used to be so clear. I'd work until I was 30, get pregnant, quit my job, and be a stay at home mom for no more than 4 years. That, I figured, was long enough to have two kids and see the youngest into his or her second year, while still being a short enough time out that I wouldn't lose too much ground, career-wise. I was supposed to be looking for jobs now, and be working by June of this year, or January '09 at the latest.
Now, it looks like winter '09 is the earliest I could possibly hope even to give birth to a second child (and let's be honest here, who among us actually believes that I'll get pregnant within the next two months?) If I stick to the original "each kid gets at least one year home with mom" plan, I'll be back at work in 2010 at the earliest, after 5 years out. At that point, I worry that rejoining the workforce as an attorney will be extremely difficult, if not completely impossible.
So, simple, right? Just go ahead and get a damn job already! But we are still trying, and I do actually hold out hope that we will have another baby. And I do still want to spend at least a year at home with any second child we would have. So, which would be worse? To get a job, knowing that I hope to quit again in a year or so? Or to stay out of the workforce until I'm reasonably sure there won't be any more breaks, even if that means being out for 5, 6 or even more years? I honestly don't know the answer to that one.
Psychologically, I think it would be best for me to go back to work. Then, at least, I'd be contributing to our household (or, at least, balancing out the drain on our resources that my problems have been). Plus, then I'd have something else to focus on besides trying to get pregnant. But I'd also lose the flexibility that being home allows, which does make fertility treatment easier. And I'm not sure if it would be the best thing for M to enter daycare, only to be removed again in a year or so.
Ugh. So many things to thing about, so many things that should be simple but are instead complicated by my infertility. And to think, one little pink line is all it would take to simple things right up again.