Saturday, March 10, 2012

Secondary Infertility

Does it suck more, less or just as much as primary infertility? Well, of course there really is no answer, no one answer. But I've suffered from both now, so I can gladly give my point of view ;)

And my point of view is that...I don't know. It's certainly not worse than suffering from primary. Only a very few horrible things could equal that hell. But I wouldn't say this time around is significantly better, either.

Perhaps some of the edge has been taken off, some of the mind-numbing, all "consuming-ness" of primary infertility is gone. When we faced infertility the first time, I could NEVER wrap my mind around, or be ok with the thought of never having a child. The thought of that made me literally sick to my stomach. It was something that I knew I could never find acceptance with. And that made it so scary and made me feel so desperate and out of control.

This time around, it's scary. It's a roller coaster. It's up and down. It's bitterness and anger at times. The hurt still feels the same though. The pain of a failed cycle is still the same. What is different is the fact that I don't have to wrestle with the fear of not becoming a mother. And that fear was so intoxicating last time, so sickening to me that, at times, I felt like I couldn't breath. So that is one difference. But the hurt, in the moment, is still the same. It's still intense. It can still take over my day. That ache is still something I carry in the same way as before. Does that make sense?

I've been reading some interesting articles on secondary infertility and the differences in experience between primary and secondary. Lucky me-I got to experience both scenarios.

Unique characteristics of secondary infertility (actually, I don't really even fit this definition, since it is usually reserved for women who did not need fertility medications the first time around. I guess I am without definition. Not the first time I've heard this):
-There's not as much support from doctors, family and friends for this type of infertility, as you already have one or more children. The thought is that it is not as difficult to go through and one should be grateful for the children they have. I haven't found this to be true in my experience. People are still generally very sympathetic and want to be helpful.
-Secondary can be tough because not only do you have to worry about your own emotional state, but your child's as well. Yes and no for me. I am SO GLAD to have a child to worry about...but I don't want her to see me crying, if I am feeling I have to suck it up. Might not be a bad thing though. I am forced to get out of my ruts faster.

-A different type of guilt...the guilt at not being able to give your child a sibling. This can get worse when the child begins asking about siblings. YES YES YES!!!! I've been feeling so guilty lately because I want Alex to have a brother or sister so badly. I worry about her growing up alone. I worry that she will be lonely and I really dread the day when she might ask for a sibling. I pray that we don't ever get to that point.

-Women with secondary sometimes don't feel like they fit into any group. They are parents, so they can't completely relate to childless women, but find themselves having difficulty relating to their fertile multi-child friends. Yes and no again for me. I've been through primary. I know how it feels and I still feel that I can relate to women going through it. But they may regard me differently, I don't know. As for my mom friends, I do feel different. I know that this is my doing, but I can't help it. They always say, "Wait until you have more than one and then you'll see...". They ask me when we'll be having another, as if having one child is not an option for anyone. They get pregnant so darned easily and announce on Facebook at 5 weeks. They are naive because they can be. They don't know the reality that I do. Most likely, they haven't had to fight for every child they have. I know that fight. I know that grief. And it does make me feel a little different from them. I don't know if that will go away, even if we have another baby. I think, to a certain extent, infertility has become a part of who I am. It's part of my history. And while I won't always be so angst ridden about it, it will still be there in some form.

-Guilt over wanting another child. Oh heck yeah! This is me all the way. I used to pray for "just one". Now we have Alex and I thank God for her everyday. But a small part of me says, "you should be happy you got your one...that's better than a lot of women". I'm working on this still.

-You grieve and romanticize the sibling relationship. Yup! I think of Alex playing with her sibling. I think of them doing different things on vacation or in the summer. I think of Christmases, of having coordinated outfits (I know, kind of lame). I think of her holding her baby brother or sister for the first time. And it hurts. It all hurts-and more than I thought it would. I feel like I am already grieving these elusive experiences.

So secondary infertility isn't worse than primary. In my opinion, for me exclusively, it is slightly easier. The pain is STILL the same in a lot of ways. The feelings do not change. The tears are no less because I have one child. However, this time around, I can escape a little bit easier. I can take my daughter to the park. I can bake cookies with her. We can snuggle on the couch. I can escape that world in a way I couldn't before.

And the biggest difference is that I can engage in the *act* of considering a life with one child. I may reject the thought immediately upon considering it (which I do), but it does pop up. Don't get me wrong-we will fight with all we have before we concede to that. We will spend time and a ridiculous amount of money on our quest for a second child. We will probably do it for years to come (please, God, don't let it come to that....I'm not asking for a test, here!). We will consider all available options. But, this time,  I don't feel like I am going to lose my mind or throw up at the thought. Not having a child was inconceivable. The thought was horrendous to me. I don't have that same burden anymore. And maybe that's the difference for me.

So. The pain is the same, the feelings are the same. The ache in my heart is the same. But the fear is different. Not nearly as intoxicating. But, we'll fight the fight. There is some comfort in knowing that we have fought with everything we had, with everything we are, that we exhausted all resources. And if it's not meant to be, it's important to know we did everything we could. And then we can pray for acceptance.

I pray. Which would surprise a lot of people in my life, as I don't regularly attend church and am generally sarcastic and self-deprecating. I swear more than I should, too. But I've prayed since I was a teenager. Normally, it's for my husband and daughter's health and safety. Lately, it's also to have another healthy child. But also, if that's not in the cards for us, for the desire for a second child to disappear. Now I'm just waiting for something to happen ;)

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