Truth Number One: Nothing hurts more than waiting for the first. Never knowing if you’ll be a mom. Never knowing if you’ll ever have a child. That is a hell I’d gladly never remember. Of course, at the time I was waiting for said first child, I worked fifty hours a week, spent twenty hours commuting. I spent every night alone, and only saw my husband if we happened to have a weekend off together. All that would change with a baby, and I knew that, but I couldn’t change it until I had the baby…and the baby was just not coming.
Truth Number Two: Loss is harder. Not because losing a child is easy on anyone, but because it takes so much longer to have another chance, and it may possibly never happen. The claws of despair sink into your heart so easily in that situation.
Truth Number Three: Unless someone LIVES it, they don’t know how it feels. It’s easy for a “fertile myrtle” to throw around phrases like “God knows what’s best” and “You need to trust Him,” and it’s impossible to explain that it’s got nothing to do trusting in God, and all to do with pain of being broken and…
Truth Number Four: Trusting God gives you an identity crisis. I know without a shadow of a doubt that I can get pregnant and have a child. But infertility forces you to face the questions - the questions of: Why is God not allowing me to have a child? What am I doing wrong? Is there something else I’m supposed to be doing right now? What lesson do I have to learn to have another baby? What obstacle course, question, quest, character flaw, milestone, contentment do I have to finish/answer/achieve/overcome/reach/come to before I am allowed a child?
Truth Number Five: I really do think you value the children you do have more. I don’t actually have any idea, mind you, but not a single day has gone by in Baby M’s life where I haven’t stopped and thanked God for finally giving me a child. Secondary infertility is made so much less painful because of that blessing already in my life.
Truth Number Six: Even the slightest hint of baby desperation makes you fall apart. I cried - bawled - all the way through that dumb Julie and Julia movie. One look, full of meaning and sorrow, into a baby carriage and it’s like…I understand. And it hurts. You do everything you can to throw yourself into something else, anything else, just to fill that baby hole left inside.
Truth Number Seven: You are broken. No matter how great my husband is about my infertility - and he really is wonderful - it doesn’t ever erase the fact that I’m broken. I don’t work. AT ALL. And it makes me feel like less of a woman, it makes me feel like I’ve gypped him out of things.
Truth Number Eight: You believe in miracles. In order to have a child, God has to operate outside the normal bounds of the physical world, and that is the very definition of a miracle. I can get pregnant, but statistically speaking, it should take me twelve to twenty-four years longer than the average couple. The fact that I had a child three years into marriage (and a pregnancy and loss once before that) only shows how big of a God I really have.
Truth Number Nine: Re-read the identity crisis one. Add a layer of guilt for past sins. That’s huge. On one hand, I feel like I’m suffering the consequences to things I’ve done in my past, and on the other hand I walk around my house, petrified that I’m somehow missing God’s big plan for future, the plan he refuses to let me have more children until I do. I feel like I’m just sitting around, blowing it, and every day I miss what he wants is a day longer I’ll have to wait for a second child. Cue CRISIS. My writing buddy wonders how I can write a novel in three weeks. I’ll tell you how - intense crisis of the soul during fertility treatments that don’t fucking work. Pain has to go somewhere…
Truth Number Ten: You don’t know when to give up. I’ve given up sometimes. Well, once, I gave up totally and applied to grad school and for a new job teaching at Baltimore’s Public Schools (two things I could never do while pregnant/having a child). The week I submitted my applications, I found out I was pregnant. But it doesn’t work like that again - you can’t try to give up so you’ll get pregnant. Hope is a double edged sword, and it cuts you deeply while you try and cut it out. I want to hang onto Michael’s baby clothes, because I want to be like my sister and have a reason to need them, but I am not normal. Do I want to carry around four Tupperware containers of clothes that just remind me how screwed up I am? Or remind me how fast my only infant grew? I don’t want to…and yet I still have hope I’ll use them. So I keep them.
Side Note: The picture at the top of this post was a self portrait I did soon after losing my first pregnancy. I was stuck in the inner city, away from my family, a newlywed without my husband and no way of changing the situation until I had a baby and could become a stay at home mom. In the span of six months, I was told I’d never be able to have children, I was pregnant, and that I had lost my only chance at a miracle. I take a lot of crap pictures of myself (duh, I’m a girl), but I guess the grief was so raw in my soul that I couldn’t hide it for the camera at all. At the time I thought I looked normal….egads.