Secrets: Secondary Infertility
I have been reading a blog Social Strawberries shared with me the other day. It is a blog she wrote about the process of adopting a baby because she and her husband were unable to conceive. It is pretty heart-wrenching stuff. I didn’t know her then…when she started her adoption process nor did I know her very well as she went through the process and then finally adopted…But I kind of wish I had. I wish I had been there to give her a hug once in a while and to just listen.
The part of the blog I am reading now has talked a lot about the insensitive comments people made to her as she shared her decision to adopt. Some comments were based in pure ignorance and some just plain tactless. And then there are the other comments…that people have no idea are loaded comments, but kind of cut right to the quick.
I have a lot of empathy for SS. I am in no way in her shoes, and she has had a very different and hard road, but…I do understand a lot of her feelings. Dh and I had secondary infertility. That’s when you have successful, unassisted conception/s and baby/ies and then are unable to have more. The first month we tried, we got pregnant with ds. It was easy peasy. Although…at our first OB appointment, when the OB took our medical history, we were told it was a “miracle” we got pregnant at all. (The doctor’s exact word was, “miracle.”)
Of course we didn’t think much of it until we wanted to have a second baby (I had in my mind a family with 4 kids…though we probably would have settled on 3.) We tried for years, had 3 miscarriages and then just gave up. We did not have any real interest in pursuing fertility treatments….A choice we both agreed on. I think we just kept hoping that it would eventually happen….But it never did.
And so, I spent years watching all my peers have their second and third babies and being sooo jealous and feeling soo empty. And guilty. Because I had one baby, lots of people don’t get to have one at all, so why should I have felt bad about not having more? But..when you have an idea in your mind of what you would have wanted your family to be like…the loss is still there.
And the insensitive comments are there too. Even to this day, people ask me why we only have one child. Or when I say we have one, they pause and look at me and say, “Only the one?” It happens all the time at work. And I smile and I pretend it doesn’t bother me and I tell them, “Yes.” Or if I am feeling a bit more testy about it I will say, “One is all we got.” Usually, that puts an end to the conversation…but not always. Part of it is because I look quite a bit younger then I am. People often assume that I am about 10ish years younger then I actually am. I guess they figure since I look young, I would still have a chance to have another baby.
So, secondary infertility is not something you really can talk about with people…Because people totally don’t get it. It is one of the very personal secrets that I keep shoved in the back of my “life experience” closet….Kind of like depression and ptsd and sexual orientation and a few other things with which I don’t fit the mold, and do so in such a way that it is hard for people to understand.
The one thing I did get out of reading SS blog was that I treated her pretty “normally.” (I hit the blog a couple of times as a co-worker.) I am beyond glad for that as I certainly would have never wanted to be part of the group that made her feel bad. I remember talking some baby-stuff with her and hopefully, I did so with some sensitivity. I know we talked about her breastfeeding her adopted baby (Yes, you can!) and to me it was no big deal to want to induce lactation and breast feed. I am getting the impression from her blog that lots of people don’t understand that.
Anyway…Reading her blog has been really interesting. I still have quite a ways to go with it. I really appreciate that she shared this piece of herself with me. It also serves as a good reminder that you only see a person from the outside and for the most part only what they want you to see. What is in their heart is a completely different thing.