Almost three and a half years ago I was thrown into the world of the grieving parent. At the time, I was in a highly alert state, taking words that were said to me and dissecting them one by one. Sometimes people said things that I found confusing, and maybe even hurtful. I started reading…
“A Woman Without A Country.”
That’s the term I’ve been using to describe myself lately.
In many aspects of my life right now, many things are settled, yet very unsettling to me.
As a spouse of a United States service member, there are always uncertainties about job details, but things I know are inevitable.
As a woman who has spent the better part of the year either being pregnant or trying to get pregnant again, I no longer am. Or will be.
As a mother to babies I’ll never hold on this earth, every day with something new conjures up questions about what life would be like with them living.
As a mother to a living child, I wonder what I’d do if anything happened to him. My prayer every day is only that my last breath comes before his.
And now I find myself suffering as many women do, but in a very different way.
According to the Center For Disease Control, approximately four million families experience Secondary Infertility.
If one was to go looking for a definition of Secondary Infertility, she would find herself lost in a sea of similar characteristics, but all varying slightly. The general consensus defines Secondary Infertility as the inability to get pregnant after already giving birth to one child.
Some variations on the definition include things like whether or not one carries that baby to term or whether the first child’s birth was unassisted by fertility treatments. Regardless of the differences in definition, it would seem that wanting a second baby after being able to already have a first baby is pretty much the most common conception of what Secondary Infertility is.
So where does that leave someone like me?
My first child was conceived with the help of fertility treatments, but died the day after he was born. One of his brothers, technically my second child, is a happy little boy who brings me so much joy. Does his life and ability to be born negate my standing as a woman who experiences Secondary Infertility?
More, after my second child (also conceived with the help of treatments) was born, we were able to get pregnant again (with treatments), but lost the baby. Does the fact that I got pregnant again, when so many cannot even the first time, take me out of the Secondary diagnosis?
Maybe. To those who can’t get pregnant or bring a living child home, I can imagine it does. Suffering Primary Infertility for as many years as I did introduced me to a large population of women who did not necessarily have very much sympathy for a woman experiencing Secondary Infertility because those poor women (and I’ll be honest—myself included) were just desperate for ONE child. Two was greedy.
Yet here I am. Greedy? If one wants to call it that, yes. Guilty. I want to be able to raise more than one child.
And I’m realizing I won’t.
That hurts. It tears me up. The last few weeks have been very, very hard on my soul.
Mostly, though, I feel alone. I do not feel like people view me the same way that they did before Matthew was born and died, and even my own husband said something to the effect of, “We should just be grateful we have Luke. That was the goal, to be able to have a healthy child we got to bring home.”
But that was not original my goal. My goal was lots of children. A big house filled with laughter and love and crazy adventures.
I’ve had to amend my goal, and though grateful beyond grateful for the little boy who calls me Mama every day, my heart still hurts.
For the ones I’ve lost…and the ones who will never be.
Officially Secondary Infertility? Who knows?
I just know it is lonely.