As you know by now, we have one child but want more. But we do not have secondary infertility. Secondary infertility is defined by RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, as the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term following the birth of one or more biological children; the birth of the children does not involve any assisted reproductive technologies or fertility medications. Nope, not us. We are just infertile the first time, second time, all the time. And the second time around with infertility is proving to be vastly different than our first time out. Don't get me wrong, both bouts of treatments and infertility were, and are, awful. But a variable has been added to our quest for a second baby, and he is a 4-year-old named Jackson.
The major difference in our infertility journey this time is that we are parents already. We have this amazing miracle, and it is our responsibility to parent while we are going through the ups and downs (mostly downs) of infertility. The first time around, when medication injections left me exhausted, bloated and sick, I could crawl into bed right after work. This time, I have to dig deep and find the energy to play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and ninja-kick my way around our living room. With our first treatments, a failed cycle meant that I could cry and yell whenever I wanted to. This time around, I only allow myself to cry in the shower.
During our attempts to get pregnant the first time, there was an underlying, deep feeling of desperation. We both felt it. I remember after we finally got pregnant, my husband Derrick and I went grocery shopping, and he said out of the blue in check-out lane No. 3: "Isn't it so nice that we don't feel like this whole can't-get-pregnant thing isn't over our heads anymore?" He was right. The desire to have a child was the No. 1 thought in our minds. By the end, it was full-fledged desperation. When I thought about the possibility that we would never have children, I couldn't breathe. I felt like I was drowning.
This time around, the desperation feeling is gone, but it has been replaced with a mix of feeling selfish (Why should I get another baby when I already have one who is perfect?) and feeling deeply sad that Jackson's future may not involve a sibling. He wouldn't experience Christmas Eve sleepovers in his brother's room to listen for Santa, have the chance to be the protective brother who grills his little sister's dates, give his brother's Best Man speech or have family left after Derrick and I pass away. I almost can't bear it.
Of course, I know that kids and adults survive without siblings, and adult siblings are not always best friends. I believe that Jackson would be an amazing big brother, and I would love to see that relationship evolve, but I am trying to be gentler with myself. I no longer feel desperate, but hopeful.
And I'm downright confident about a few things. We will continue to tell Jackson how much he is loved and how wanted he was. Derrick and I will work as a team to be the best parents we can when our medication and procedure protocol starts late this summer. If a cycle fails, I will look at my beautiful 4-year-old and remember that I already have the greatest gift. I am already a mama.