The “I” Word
To Maternity… and Beyond! Chelsea Day already has two beautiful children, so "infertility" never seemed to apply to her. Until now.
How long we’ve been trying: 295 days
Number of pregnancy tests to date: 28
How many times we’ve had sex: 87
The strategy: Self-acceptance
“Infertility affects a surprising amount of couples nowadays,” a friend casually said as I bemoaned my latest single-lined pee stick. “It’s probably time to see an expert.”
My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for over nine months, but hearing the “I” word applied to me was jarring. I have two sons, both carried to term by me and birthed with no complications. I had a miscarriage long ago, but everything’s been fairly hunky-dory in the baby-having department since that experience. Until now.
In a condition known as secondary infertility, a rising number of couples like us are finding that they aren’t able to carry subsequent babies to term after successfully having children. The problem can arise from unseen labor complications and infections, or simple lifestyle factors such as age and nutrition.
It’s a frustrating, confusing experience. Socially, it puts parents in an awkward position around both their parent and non-parent friends.
I watch as families around us grow rapidly, surpassing the number of children we have. “So you guys are done having kids, I take it?” other moms will cheerfully inquire at playdates as they rub their pregnant bellies. I falter, unsure how to answer. I don’t think we’re done. I don’t want to be done. However, this monthly rush of emotions is wearing at me. Anticipation is met with disappointment. I feel angry and let down every time I toss another pregnancy test in the trash. I have very bad days, and it pains me to admit that our quest to have more kids is affecting the ones we already have. I don’t know how much longer I can go through this before making a conscious decision to give up for the good of our family.
Conversely, I have friends who are unable to have any children. How can I complain about my secondary infertility when they can’t experience the joy of pregnancy even once? The rooms they’d imagined turning into nurseries are completely empty, and they’re having to come to terms with it. While my kids are taking their first steps, these friends are moving on with a childless life or navigating their way through the lengthy adoption process. I try to explain the emptiness I feel, the incompleteness of our family, and it falls flat. “Be thankful for what you have!” they say.
Because I have two children already, I’m unwilling to go through lengthy fertility treatments to have more. Through part of this process my OB-GYN has had me on medications to “regulate” my system, level out my thyroid, and make my womb an overall happy place. No dice, and I’m not willing to go beyond that. No fertility medication here; I can’t face the high chances of ending up with multiples. No expensive In Vitro Fertilization. I’m not scheduling ongoing appointments that would take time away from our family.
So I’m just here, taking it day by day, trying to focus on all the joyful moments with the children I do have. If these two incredible boys are all the people who come into our family, we will know that we are abundantly blessed and we will be thankful.
But that doesn’t mean I’m ready to stop trying or that I don’t, on occasion, wonder why this is happening to me.
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