Lately, my husband and I have been talking about having another baby. For some reason, I expected it to be different this time around. Easier, maybe, because I knew what to expect and have a toddler to keep me busy and my mind off things. I was wrong.
I realize how fortunate we are to have a healthy and happy two and a half year old. I can’t help but smile when I look at her. She’s strong-willed, has a wonderful imagination, loves to snuggle, and truly lights up the room. I look at her and see a future full of possibility. A little girl who loves to play in the dirt, but would prefer to do it while dressed as a princess; a child who would eat pickles for every meal if I let her; our daughter who loves to hide when she knows someone is about to walk into the room. I tuck her in at night and tell her she is exactly what I had been waiting for, and I know that I am telling her the truth.
I find myself balancing the extreme joy of being her mama with the painful uncertainty of wanting another. It’s a familiar uncertainty, only this time I know what I’ll be missing out on if things don’t go as planned.
It’s not just my husband and I that would be missing out, it’s my daughter too. I want her to be a sister. I want her to have someone to grow up with. A sibling to play with, make memories with and hate me when she’s 13 with. I want her to have someone around when my husband and I are gone. I know plenty of people that are happy to be only children or happy to only have one child, but my husband and I always envisioned my family with more than one child. I want that for me, for my husband and our daughter.
Beyond that, I am filled with so many questions. What if in the last three years our situations have changed, and we’re not good IVF candidates anymore? What if it doesn’t work the first time? What if it does work, but I lose the pregnancy?
And those are just the concerns I have about the IVF process — never mind the worries that all expectant moms have throughout their pregnancy. Because all things considered, everything happened exactly as it was supposed to last time.
Although the IVF process was intense — and it was intimidating that it was our only option — once treatments started, the IVF process was pretty uneventful, despite it being more than six weeks of crazy hormones, painful shots and waiting.
And then we got the most amazing phone call from our nurse: I was pregnant. I continued holding my breath for the first couple of weeks to ensure I had a viable pregnancy, then I waited through the first trimester with the same concerns that any pregnant woman does. But after those 12 weeks, we were overjoyed to share the news that we were expecting a baby. For the rest of my pregnancy, I prayed that our baby would stay safe and healthy and would have a successful delivery. And while it wasn’t always easy, in the end, I was holding 7 lb. 7 oz. of perfection.
What if it doesn’t happen that way this time? What if it doesn’t work at all? What if there are no other options?
What I really didn’t expect was for the emotional part of wanting a second baby to be as intense as it was when I was first diagnosed. It makes sense because desire is real. What I’m realizing is that infertility doesn’t go away, and it doesn’t get easier. Secondary infertility is just as complicated and filled with emotions as an initial infertility diagnosis. My mind is flooded with questions and scenarios. I am just as overwhelmed this time around as I was the last about the uncertainty of it all. There are times when the emotions hit me and they are just as raw as they were four years ago. I am still occasionally caught off guard at baby showers, the grocery store, by Facebook, or even just watching TV when something happens that reminds me.
The benefit of the second time is there are some things I do know for sure. My husband and I know how to support each other, and we know what we can handle. I know that I trust my doctor and his team. I know that we are surrounded by amazing people that will support us every step of the way. And I know that the journey may be long, uncertain and exhausting, but in the end it will all be worthwhile.
How has secondary infertility affected you? What advice do you have for coping?
Melissa Kimball is an account executive at Hart, an ad agency in Maumee. She received her marketing and communications degree from Defiance College. She and her husband, Bob, recently moved to Whitehouse, Ohio, with their toddler, Hope, and boxer, Blue. In junior high, Melissa learned that her thoughts were always best expressed in writing. So as an adult, she turned to writing to cope with the couple’s infertility journey. Now Melissa’s wish is that her words offer comfort and company to others touched by infertility.