When my husband and I first decided we wanted to get pregnant, I think I was like most young women: naïve and unassuming.
Our whole lives from elementary school on up, we’re taught to have safe sex so we don’t get pregnant. Judging from the wildly outdated educational videos we were all subjected to in health class, all you have to do to get pregnant is do the deed. They made it sound as if you were lucky if you didn’t get pregnant if you had unprotected sex. So once you jump from the monumental life stage of getting pregnant being a bad thing to it being exactly what you want, you think it’ll be easy. You decide you want it and it’ll happen.
Like too many other perfectly healthy young women out there, I was greeted with the harsh reality that it’s not so easy for everyone. I did everything I thought to be “right.” I visited the doctor ahead of time to make sure I was healthy; I had my labs checked, changed or stopped medications, started taking prenatal vitamins, and left with instructions to come back in a year if things didn’t work out.
A year? I laughed. Impossible, I thought. No way would it take that long to get pregnant — I’d seen the sex-ed videos.
Only a year later and I wasn’t laughing anymore. There I was, a healthy young woman in her twenties and my body wouldn’t do one of the main things it was made for: reproduce.
To say the frustration was agonizing would be an understatement. My life became consumed with all things pregnancy: I was charting my cycles, recording my temperature first thing in the morning, taking all kinds of weird natural supplements, and being as absolutely healthy as I could be — eating well, not drinking every two weeks, and not exercising too strenuously. Still, nothing I did changed anything. I still wasn’t pregnant.
To be heartbroken over something you’ve never had seems dramatic and unnecessary, but it’s the only way to describe infertility. To want and yearn for something so badly, and know there’s nothing in your power you can do to change your circumstance.
The loss of control is debilitating. It became a challenge to put on a happy face and celebrate friends who were easily getting pregnant right and left. Social media became a source of misery and ridicule. It felt like nothing in like would be OK or complete until this one thing happened.
Until suddenly it was over. I was pregnant. Just when we’d nearly given up hope, it happened. That sweet little thing is now 3-and-a-half and that pain is a distant, distant memory. He was completely and totally worth the wait.
When it came time to have a second child, this time we were prepared. We knew it could take awhile. While we could have started trying for a second baby earlier than we were ready just in case it took a long time, we decided to wait and see what the road had in store for us. Not much to our surprise, even when we decided we were ready, it didn’t happen right away.
Only this time there was no frustration, no internal struggle, no sadness. It didn’t consume my thoughts or my actions. I didn’t worry that something was wrong with me or that I’d never have another child. I didn’t assume I was broken and get lost in a world of wonder and questioning. As blunt as it sounds, it simply didn’t hurt this time around. It took almost as long, but it didn’t feel like an eternity. Sometimes it feels like it happened in the blink of an eye.
I can’t say for sure what the difference was for me. I know plenty of people have struggled through infertility many times, and no journey is less painful than the one before. But for me, it was OK. It wasn’t a struggle, it just was.
Perhaps it’s because I already have a child: I wasn’t missing out on a major part of life. I was already experiencing motherhood and the number of children I had wasn’t going to change that.
Maybe it’s because motherhood itself is all-consuming and I didn’t have room for any other worries or sources of stress in my head. A 3-year-old has a way of taking up all the empty space in your thoughts, not letting you really go to that deep, dark space because you have to be there for them.
Or maybe it’s because I didn’t put any pressure on myself. Maybe my kids were meant to be three years apart; maybe they were meant to be 10 years apart.
While we always knew we wanted a second child and having our first reinforced that, it didn’t feel like the world would be over if it didn’t happen. While I may never experience what it was like to have multiple kids, at least I’d been given the chance to do it with one.
The idea of adoption was no longer a consolation, it was a valid option if things didn’t work out. I’d experienced pregnancy and childbirth. While I’d love to go through it again, it wasn’t a tugging need.
At times I’ve felt a little guilty for not being troubled about infertility the second time around, but mostly I’ve felt grateful. To be able to patiently wait for life to take its course and know we’ll be happy with whatever that means is a gift.More On