When you have difficulty conceiving or carrying a baby to term, it seems like every other woman is pregnant or cuddling a brand new baby. Baby shower invites seem to come in droves. Every news story seems to be about an abandoned or abused child. Your heart aches. You question your identity as a woman. Infertility somehow manages to consume every bit of your life.
Infertility is hard.
When my husband and I first tried having a baby we went through two and a half years of treatments. Two and a half years of countless appointments, testing, blood draws, intrauterine ultrasounds, hormones, shots, supplements, and expense. Two and a half years of extreme mood swings and emotional turmoil. We exhausted every avenue we were comfortable with, but I still wasn’t pregnant.
Somehow, after all of that, I conceived naturally and now we have a beautiful daughter.
We were so hopeful that having another baby would be easier than our first. Surely if I got pregnant without intervention once, I’d be able to do it again.
Instead, given my “advanced maternal age,” we are back in the fertility specialists’ office making decisions about how much intervention we are comfortable with in trying to grow our family.
Secondary infertility is just as hard.
Some things get easier the more times you do them. Infertility is not one of them. I foolishly thought that having come through the infertility battle with a baby would make it easier the second time. I thought I’d feel less urgency to get pregnant. And I thought I’d be a little less disappointed each month my period comes. While having a toddler keeps me from having as much time to dwell on not conceiving, she’s also a constant reminder of how quickly my 40th birthday is approaching and my chances for becoming pregnant are diminishing.
And this time, I have intimate knowledge of the time, costs, and emotional capital that goes into fertility treatments. The thought of experiencing the hormonal emotional roller coaster makes me sick to my stomach. I have less desire to carve out time from my full-time job to go to countless appointments where I try, and fail, to modestly cover myself in a too-small paper drape in preparation for physically intrusive examinations. Where even though my doctor’s office is filled with caring professionals I leave feeling more like a broken incubator than a person.
This time, there is guilt that I want another child. Guilt that I dare ask for another when we have already been so blessed. It’s not that our perfect miracle baby isn’t enough, but our family just doesn’t feel complete.
Right now, I don’t know where this journey of expanding our family is leading us. I long to love on more little people in our home. I’m just not sure how they are going to get here.