Infertility While Parenting (Secondary Infertility)

pregnant ladies

Infertility is tough.  If you are one who chooses to share your story, you may get unwanted advice (“Be glad that you’re alive!“).  If you choose not to share your story, you have to deal with unintentionally hurtful comments (“You all were smart to not have kids.  They’re a handful!”).  Infertility when you’re already a parent, is extremely tough.  This is how conversations go at playgroup:

Mom 1:  Hi I’m {normal name}, these are my little ones! {Insert name that doubles as a household object, such as “Broom”} is 6, {Insert name of random food label, such as “Campbell”} is 4, {Insert completely made up fairytale name, such as… anything that ends in “-ella”} is 2, and I’m due in {whatever month makes all the kids perfectly 2 years apart}!

Me:  Aww, they’re so cute!  I’m Ashley.  My son is in Kindergarten at {private Christian school} and this is my daughter {Princess}.  He’s 5, and she’s 4.

Mom 1:  You had them pretty close together, then, right?

Me:  Yes!  They are actually 11 months apart.

Mom 1:  Oh wow, I thought mine were close!  So you had your boy and your girl and you’re done!

Me:  {nervous laughter}

This is just a normal conversation where I should be able to answer, “Yes! Two’s enough for me!”, or “No, we are planning to have another one in {#} years”.  Instead, I’m left in the awkward position of explaining, “Well yes we have been trying for four years now!” or lying and saying “Oh yes, we are done!”.   There’s also option C where I break down, sobbing in the middle of playgroup surrounded by all the moms with their cute baby bumps.  They all try to hug me, but they can’t reach me over their swollen bellies, so instead I am encompassed by the soft kicks, and sweet new life I may never enjoy again.  Okay, option C hasn’t happened yet, but I’m sure it is coming.  Each baby conversation I’m a part of, and each pregnant lady I see, is just a reminder of what I can’t have.

How is this tough? Well, to someone who has no living children, and is trying for just one beautiful child, this is a slap in the face.  Not only do I have one child, but I have TWO, and not only do I have two children, but I have one of each gender, and they’re total opposites.  I have everything.  I have two gorgeous, smart children who are involved in football, soccer, lacrosse, ballet, tap dance, pageantry, golf, basketball, swimming, plays, and more.  I don’t have one weekend free, and I love it.  I’ve never felt joy like the joy I felt when becoming a mother, and I thank God for them each day – each hour – more times than I can count.  To someone who isn’t able to experience this joy, the ache in my heart from my empty arms is just selfish.  On the other hand, to people who ARE able to have children, they don’t know what to say.  They have no problems getting pregnant, and even have one or more unplanned children.  They can’t understand my yearning, and might even (jokingly) suggest I don’t know what I’m asking for wishing for more than two.  So, you see, experiencing infertility while parenting leaves you incredibly alone.  People on both sides of the fence think that wanting more children is not appreciating what I have, when it is in fact loving what I have so much that I want to increase it tenfold.

I hate those posts that are like, “What NOT To Say To People With {suffering condition here}”, because I know people mean well, but this post is a reminder to choose your words carefully.  I too am guilty of asking people if they are “done”, if they want kids, etc. because it seems like a natural turn in conversations amongst newlyweds, but now that I am enduring this season, I’m more conscientious about what I say.  Infertility is hard.  You cannot avoid pregnant women or babies, and you get to the point where you are unable to feel delight in others’ happiest moments.  It can lead you to depression and feelings of complete isolation.  I wish I had a list of things TO say to your friends that are experiencing infertility, but I don’t.  I guess I just wanted to share that infertility CAN happen to couples who have children, and that it doesn’t hurt any less just because they do.

You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials so that the genuineness of your faith — more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
I Peter 1:6 – 7

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