“I’m nervous about doing the two week wait again,” my infertility buddy confided to me just weeks before she found out Parker was on his way. We found out we were pregnant just weeks of each other after dealing with what felt like an eternity of infertility, and her son was born only 12 days after my daughter.
Mason was the first to become a big brother, followed quickly by Wyatt. And then Stella became a big sister, and just a few days ago, Cadence, too. One by one, the women I met in the online world of learning-to-cope-with-infertility have announced their second pregnancies. Meanwhile, I’m still broken.
I’ve lost track of their stories. When I post my congratulations and they say they were “pleasantly surprised,” I don’t know if they mean it happened the way it’s meant to or if the treatments went unexpectedly well. I don’t know if they implanted their frozen embryos or turned out to be one of those magical infertility unicorns who somehow gets pregnant without medical intervention after their first pregnancy.
I am not a unicorn. Womp-womp.
No, I am one of those who experienced primary infertility and who, should she ever work up the courage to give it another real shot, will experience secondary infertility, too. I know enough now to recognize how screwed up my systems are, and I’m not so much bothered by the knowing I’m broken as I am with the knowing I might have to deal with a second round. My daughter just turned two, and I still feel so traumatized by the experience of getting pregnant, despite “only” having needed three rounds of Clomid to get that BFP.
That’s why I unfollowed the blogs, after all. That’s why I don’t know what it took for my friends from the blogosphere to get a second positive pregnancy test. It just became too much to constantly relive those moments. Phone calls from nurses with disappointing test results. Another blank pregnancy test with no second line. Forever teetering between insane optimism and complete nihilism. I spent most of my pregnancy utterly terrified of the worst-case scenarios, too, so the years between “I’m ready to be a mother” and holding my baby for the first time really just feel like a blur of stomach-churning anxiety and depression.
I feel guilt for leaving my sisters in the trenches, but I’m not exactly prepared to do it all again. I don’t know if I ever will be, and I’m just so full as a girl mom to an “only” that I can’t imagine it being any other way. We aren’t actively trying to get pregnant. We aren’t peeing on sticks morning, noon, and night. We aren’t on drugs, making doctor appointments, having blood draws. We aren’t hoping against hope that the cycle doesn’t reset again. In that sense, I’m not really experiencing infertility, am I?
But the knowing.
What can you do about all the things you know now?
As I learned to cope with primary infertility, I remember so distinctly thinking, at least those women have a child. At least they got the experience of carrying life. At least they know.
I believed (on some level) that secondary infertility was just as painful, but that didn’t diminish my pain and anger and fear that I might never get what they had. I always chastised myself for thinking that way, because I shared the pain of wanting a child and the indescribable disappointment of learning that there are some things in life that you just can’t work hard enough for, that there really are no guarantees. I shared the feeling of being let down by your own body. I empathized. I understood.
But I didn’t know.
Primary infertility is fearing what you’ll never get to experience.
Secondary infertility is knowing what you’re missing.