A second child?

I have recently been touched by the various articles and blogs I have seen surrounding miscarriage, bravely written during Baby Loss Awareness Week. It’s a subject incredibly close to my heart. Like many others, I have experienced loss. I have known pain and suffering and grief. You see, my son is a seventh round IVF miracle.

He is now two and, from believing I might never be able to have a child, I find myself chasing a toddler and entering that well documented “terrible” stage. However, as much as I have been fortunate enough to experience such unparalleled happiness, I have recently found myself hurting, in ways I never imagined I would again: I have been faced with that family rite of passage known as the second child; the reminder that life is decidedly different to the dreams I once held and, as much as I have told myself it shouldn’t bother me, in reality it does.

The second round announcements came, and are still coming in, at an alarming rate. I, somewhat naively, thought I’d be fine with them but found that they completely floored me. As each baby was made public knowledge I was increasingly consumed with jealousy and overwhelmed with sadness; feelings which hadn’t been present since the very dark days of our infertility. My dreams of a larger family had resurfaced and left me feeling despondent, worthless and, this time round, guilty; if I love my son as much as I say I do then why am I not wholly content? I’d also made a deal: If just one of our rounds of IVF worked then I’d never ask life for more again.

And yet I find myself wanting.

One thing you should know about infertiles is that we question everything to do with family. We have to. With each round we keep on asking ourselves whether we really, really do want a child; is it worth the emotional, physical and financial strain? Can we put ourselves through it again? Can we pick ourselves up from it again? And will our marriage survive yet another blow if it fails?

Deciding whether or not to have a second child, when there is infertility, is no different. In some ways it’s harder. This time round I’m already scarred, physically and mentally. IVF is tough. I had to cope with failed cycle after failed cycle, miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy.

Trying to become pregnant again also feels incredibly self-indulgent. It feels unfair to my husband and my son, it feels unfair to couples out there who haven’t been able to conceive at all and it’s utterly overwhelming and confusing. I’ve also had to ask myself if my desire to procreate again is coming from the right place. Am I scared I’m going to be left out because everyone else now has two? Will I, once again, become the social pariah I felt I was during my childless days because I’m not like the rest? And what if people go on to have three, will I want that too? Will I ever feel completely content with my lot in life?

I know, of course, that I will, that I already am. That I’m happy, that my son is more than enough and that I’m not worthless. Like all those struggling with infertility, whatever the outcome, I’m strong, I’m brave and I am full of worth. I am not infertility. But it doesn’t stop those feelings creeping in when I’m tired, pre-menstrual or simply being human.

We’re still undecided as to what we will do but have, at least, found some peace in not making a rushed decision. I’m only 36 and, whilst that isn’t as sprightly as I used to be, I’m aware I do have a small gift of time on my side. I grapple with wanting a larger family, being fulfilled with what I have and feeling that trying to have a second child is completely unfair to all involved; it’s not like we can simply have a glass of wine, look at baby photos, feel nostalgic and decide we’ll give it a shot. For us it takes planning, it’s costly, incredibly stressful and, in all honesty, the outcome is unlikely to be successful.

There are some days when I do find it tough, yet again, being surrounded by pregnancy whilst feeling a sense of loss, but I’m learning to live with that and tell myself that’s all it is; some days. I’m learning to heal from the pain, take joy in what I do have and count my blessings. I’m aware that infertility will most probably continue to shadow my life in many ways; I’ve yet to completely trust in life again, I’ve yet to find a friend in hope but, I am learning acceptance, and perhaps it’s this acceptance that will eventually overcome that secret, unadmitted fear of losing my dreams.

Article first published for HuffPost UK


7 thoughts on “A second child?

  1. Even during my pregnancy with my daughter well meaning family members were asking me if I’d go on to have another. After two miscarriages, an op to clear some of the cysts on my ovaries, lots of waiting for that positive test and then struggling terribly with health issues through my successful pregnancy, I resented the questioning. As soon as she was born there were more ‘Would you go through it again?’ questions from curious relatives, as if they were fascinated by the idea of my infertility issues. I felt like a special attraction at a freak show, but after all the declaration that having an only-child is unfair and will affect her nature and personality; it’s definitely planted the seed in my mind. Waaaay before I felt ready to consider it. Now the can of worms has opened though, my head drifts into ideas that a second pregnancy might just be the pregnancy I’d dreamed of, rather than the complicated, scary, endlessly problematic pregnancy I had this time around. I’m hoping I make peace with the experience I had with carrying my daughter and once I’ve settled in as a new mum, I can go back to feeling confident in answering ‘no way!’ when people ask whether I’d try for a second! It’s nice to hear I’m not the only one who feels guilty about not just being absolutely content with what I have. Infertility is so utterly affecting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment, hearing from others in a similar situation is always a comfort. I’m definitely finding more peace, slowly but surely. I’ve learned to accept that it’s okay to grieve for the family I’ll never have and that it doesn’t mean I’m not happy or content. I did read an interesting statistic recently though that 45% of children have no siblings, which very much surprised me but helped me realise that my son won’t be too much in the minority! I hope you find peace in your decision and hope you had a wonderful first Christmas with your little miracle.

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  2. Wow, I’m completely in awe of you having an article on the huffington post, that’s like my top aim!! I understand it’s really difficult to get on there, so well done! Great article as well, something I haven’t thought about. But you’re right when you say you’ve got time to figure it out 💖 xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think if I’ve learned anything it’s that the grief of infertility really can hit at any time. I’d never allowed myself to actually deal with all of the sadness of each failed round, miscarriages or the ectopic and I think it all just hit me in one fresh wave with the pregnancy announcements; it was like reliving everything again. I’m feeling much more healed though now, as you’ll understand well, writing so helps me to process and heal and deal with it all.
      Not so much a well done to me as a HUGE well done for you being a local radio star! Amazing! Well done! You must feel super proud! X

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m glad you’re feeling more healed now, I hope you’ve been able to do some nice things for yourself and been really kind to yourself. It take time though and as you know, can come back when you least expect it.
        Aww thanks so much!! I’m not sure about star…but I did really enjoy it after I got passed the nerves!! I get such a great reaction to any public speaking that I do, that it’s lovely ☺️ Thank you for your kind comments, I am proud to be honest 💕 xx

        Liked by 1 person

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