Wednesday, March 26, 2008


(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.


Mrs.X said...

I have to tell you that one of the reasons I really enjoy reading your blog is that it gives me the perspective and voice of someone dealing with secondary infertility. Your blog makes me understand that the pain - although different than mine - is still just as terrible and crippling. I want to thank you for that.

I am very ashamed to admit that there was a time that I didn't have a lot of sympathy for women going through secondary infertility - they already have a child (or more), I have none. I knew that this was a wrong-headed thought and that I was having it because I was ignorant of secondary infertility and the pain, but I was an elitist with primary infertility. You have really helped me understand the very real pain that comes with secondary infertility.

And, don't question your right to use the label of "infertile". Infertility comes in all forms. It just adds unnecessary stress to question whether you have the right to use a label. And, I can understand the anxiety about the age difference between siblings. I will tell you that Sweetie and his brother are about 2 years apart and they fought like cats and dogs. I suspect it was because they were so close in age. You just can't worry about it - what will be will be. And, as an only child, it can be very fulfilling even without siblings. I know that M's questions about siblings hurt you more because you are trying so hard to have another child, but she's not asking for that reason and you just have to recognize that we can't always have what we thought we were going to have when we are going to have it. I've spent the last three years learning this lesson.

Hang in there and give M a big hug, just because.

Paranoid said...

I think it's human nature to look at people who have things better than us with a jaundiced eye. I know for sure I've caught myself doing it, too.

I'm forever reminding myself that pain is pain, and that just because someone else's experience seems less "painful" than my own, it doesn't mean they don't have a right to cry or to grieve or to talk about it.

Thanks, by the way, for your kind words. It's nice to know that my self-obsessed ramblings aren't just lying there pissing people off. :-)

meh said...

Oh sweetie - I have been away and am catching up with your pain and I am so sorry. Deeply deeply sorry. The only bright spot I can offer is this: my cousin's boys are 12 years apart. I kid you not. and they are so adorable and sweet and loving together and they totally enjoy each other. Theirs is such a special relationship. She didn't plan it to be that way, it just happened that way (I suspect various fertility issues that run in my family and are why I have twins, but that's my own wild speculation). So yes close in age is wonderful - I thank God every day mine are 11 minutes apart, even when they are killing each other and making me crazy - but 12 years can work, too. And my sister wanted dozens but diabetes limited her to 1. My nephew is a wonderful, well adjusted, fabulous child (26 years old) who has a better sense of family and devotion and love for his extended family than his 3 cousins who are siblings to one another. The "only child" is so much more loving and selfless than the 3 siblings/kids, it is amazing. It's almost like he's everyone's (every cousin's) sibling.

All that said, I'm not trying to belitle your pain or your sadness. It sucks. Truly deeply sucks. And I'm sorry.