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Infertility: When We Compete, No One Wins

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Recently, a reader left me a comment in which I could feel that her heart was breaking from her infertility struggle.

And my heart broke right along with her.

But then, she closed with this:

“I wish you the best of luck with everything, but I’m sorry I can’t muster that much sympathy for someone looking for their third children [sic].”

And I immediately went on the defensive.

How could she presume to know how difficult this is for me?

How could she know that the desire for a third child wasn’t just as fierce as the first?

She knows as much about my struggles as I know about hers.

She doesn’t know that my father died when I was two and I have waited my entire life to have a family.

She doesn’t know that my brother died from SIDS and there is a hole in my life where he should be.

She doesn’t know that we’re older parents and I worry about leaving my children behind when we die? That my children will only have each other?

She knows nothing about our extended family. She can’t possibly know that my husband’s mother died last year. Or that we live on the opposite coast from my family.

She can’t know those things, because she hasn’t lived my life.

That’s the danger with infertility.

It can all too easily become a competition.

Who tried longer, who went to greater lengths, who had to overcome the most to have a baby.

But, the part that’s tough to see is that no one really wants to win that competition.

Secondary infertility is incredibly difficult because all too often there’s a lack of empathy for those who already have children.

The Resolve website covers secondary infertility. Here’s a brief bit:

Sadly, couples with secondary infertility tend to receive less social support from others than couples who have primary infertility because the infertility is unacknowledged, the pain associated with infertility is invisible as the couple has a child, and there is no concrete loss in the family. In addition, couples experiencing secondary infertility may be recipients of criticism by others who think they should be grateful for one child and that it is foolish to go to extremes to increase family size. Of course, a couple can be extraordinarily thankful for their existing child and still long for more children.

Having two children doesn’t make me hope for a third any less.

To read more about infertility, please visit Resolve.

I’m here for anyone who might want to talk about their struggle.

When we compete, no one wins.

When we support one another in our struggles, amazing things can happen.

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