When someone looks at a snapshot of my life or takes a scroll through my Instagram or Facebook feed, I am sure the word "infertility" never crosses their mind. From the outside looking in, assumptions are made about my family and the ease at which I am able to grow our family. That's one of the heartbreaking truths about infertility, it is invisible and because of that, it brings on complex layers of pain for those that walk through it.
If you have been here a while, you know about my PCOS and have read both boys' birth stories (which you can still read on the blog), but what I want to talk about today are my feelings during some of our treatments and the stigma of secondary infertility. As soon as you get married, people ask when you are going to have a baby. Then as soon as you have one baby, people start asking when you will have another baby. I absolutely hate these questions. You never know what is going on behind closed doors, the struggle, the pain, the sadness, loss and confusion. I beg of you to never ask ANYONE when they are going to have a baby or grow their family, even if you are just excited and genuinely curious. That seemingly simple question and curiosity may be causing that person a lot of pain.
One of the most difficult things about secondary infertility, for me, is the attitude that others have when I express sadness or talk about how our journey to have more children is so difficult. People clap back with well at least you have Nathan.... and then when we had Luke, well at least you have two children. There has never been a day that I have not thanked God for my boys, they are true miracle babies - and that is not the point. I have gone through deep suffering, pain and heartbreaking loss on our path to more children. I have two angels that I never got to hold in my arms. I have an ache in my soul and a longing for them that never goes away. I have spent countless hours in several fertility clinics being poked, prodded and confusing doctors with my uncooperative body. I also, even after all that, still have the desire to push forward and keep trying because I feel that God has a plan for our family.
Loneliness is a very real part of this process, and I have seen it creep in many ways. It is hard to go through all this with and without your partner being home. For example, when we first started at a clinic, Jeremy was always gone with the ship. It was me, alone with Nathan, driving to endless appointments. Back and forth to the clinic for ultrasounds and again to the sperm bank. Picking up what looked like a huge oxygen tank/milk can and buckling it in the car like it was already a child. Giving myself injections, waking up at the crack of dawn to fight horrible traffic to make it to the clinic within my "window", and trying not to stress because they all tell you how bad that is. The procedures, blood draws, the waiting, the disappointment and the exasperation from the doctor when he spends so much time trying to sort out why his best efforts are failing, each time shaking his head and saying there is no way you should have been able to have Nathan on your own...
But I was not on my own, really, for any of our children. That is what keeps me going, my unwavering faith in God. I know that I can get the best medical help possible, but it is still all going to be on His timeline, as difficult as that is to reconcile with at times. Our last clinic doctor really had no more answers for us and was pushing to do more IUIs and then start IVF if that failed. She looked at all the numbers, charts and results and showed us over the time we were there all the months it "should have worked" ... This should have done it, I don't know why this didn't work, all the numbers indicated that it should have been successful, this should have been twins even! I know why it didn't work, it was not the time. My faith is the only reason I am able to keep going on this hard path. I feel called to have more children, and I think I will know in my heart when it's time to stop. We have been trying to have a baby again since Luke was 6 weeks old. People might think that is crazy, and they say to wait longer after especially if you had a c-section, but we knew that didn't matter. It is incredibly difficult for me to get pregnant, so we knew it would be meant to be if it happened. Here we are, 3 years and another heartbreaking miscarriage later, and I am still hopeful.
My prayer is that by being open and sharing about my own struggles, others with infertility (especially secondary) will feel less of that loneliness and judgement. By standing up and speaking about this very private, painful portion of my life I want to be an advocate, friend and example to others. I believe the best way to combat the loneliness and stigma that surrounds fertility issues is to speak about them. We should not have to keep these parts of our life a secret, if we don't want to. There is a beautiful, powerful connection that happens when we pull down the walls here and become more open. The vulnerability that seems scary and impossible can actually empower and inspire.
*If you need someone to talk to or have questions, please feel free to send me and email or DM