Forward and Back
Most of the time, I think I’m doing pretty well. I have my moments, to be sure, but they are fewer and farther between. They are also less intense. In fact, I believe I have been doing a damn good job of handling this. And I’m not the only one.
My mom actually came to my classroom the other day to tell me how impressed she was with how I was dealing with all of this. She got tears in her eyes as she told me how strong I was and how she admired my drive to do what I could do along with my acceptance of our (financial) limitations. It was then that I realized that I was doing a pretty fucking good job because my mom is the queen of handling-tragic-shit-well; she never turned to professional help in all her years of loss, not after my sister died at three months old, nor after she still birthed three sons (I’m not condoning that mind you, but it is impressive that she handled all that basically on her own, far away from her family).
So yes, I do believe I’m handling this pretty well. Certainly much better than I handled things when we were TTC#1 and I would even say better than the last six months of of last year. I suppose finding out that there is a reason we’re not getting pregnant makes the fact that we haven’t gotten pregnant easier to handle. Of course the next reality–that we can’t afford the treatments that would help us overcome our reproductive hurdles–is a lot harder to come to terms with. A lot of the time I just don’t engage those thoughts at all. It’s not like I’m denial, it’s more like I don’t dwell because honestly, what good would that do? This is our situation. We can’t change it in any way; we can’t alter our physical or our financial limitations so there is no point in obsessing over either. That kind of thinking will just drive me insane.
I do consider possible avenues out of this. I’ve researched shared risk IVF programs in the area. (I can’t seem to find any but maybe they aren’t openly presented on clinic websites?) I’ve started reading the book You CAN Adopt! (Though every time I glance at the title I thing to myself: But what if I can’t?) I prepare Mi.Vida for possible conversations on these big topics but I don’t actually broach them. The truth is I don’t know if I’m ready to present my feelings on any of these possibilities. Right now I’m in research mode, just trying to collect and assimilate the data.
I try to find articles online about our combination of infertility issues but they are all about increasing the odds of a successful IVF cycle. I try to read about the emotional tolls of secondary infertility but there is precious little on the subject. I have a google alert set for secondary infertility but the only hits I ever get (and this is once every two or three days) are rambling posts on forums like babycenter or thebump. The only real article my google alert has every picked up was Jjiraffe’s Faces of ALI post, which was ABOUT ME. It’s kind of insane how little there is written about the subject out there.
I’ve researched support groups but the only one that is secondary infertility specific takes place on Tuesday mornings and costs $350 for six weeks. Maybe I can swing that in the summer, but right now it’s impossible. (I’ve looked into peer-led RESOLVE groups but there isn’t much and I worry that I wouldn’t be welcome as someone facing secondary infertility. Alice Domar actually advices against women with children going to general infertility support groups because, evidently, women with primary infertility aren’t very supportive. My therapist is back from maternity leave and I can afford to see her every other week so that is helpful. Mi.Vida and I will start seeing her again together soon, I’m sure.
I have found some older blogs about secondary infertility and have read through their archives. I must say, most do not end with a second child and many of these women are facing the same problems that we’re facing: an inability (or unwillingness) to pursue treatments and a debilitating divergence in the desire for another child. Some women want to pursue adoption but find their partners to be ultimately unwilling. While it does make me feel less alone to know that other couples face these same issues, it’s disheartening to realize that in the vast majority of cases, these women never achieve their much wanted second children.
Every day I try to move one step close to acceptance of our family of three. The writing seems to be on the wall; I just can’t see how we’re going to overcome the many obstacles to building our family, especially when my partner is so content with our life the way it is.
Some days I handle this slow crawl toward acceptance with stoicism, but some moments it’s really hard. We just agreed to convert Isa’s crib to a toddler bed next week, when I’m off school. I had always assumed we’d just buy Isa a twin bed and move the intact crib to the other room for another baby but that seems a foolish now, when there is no baby in our future. I was also considering packing up a box worth of board books and sending them to a good friend who could use them. The fact that I might never need them again hurts my heart in ways I can’t articulate.
So many tears pinprick my eyes only to dry before they fall. That is how I stay strong, by holding back the tears, taking deep breaths, and moving on.
The other day I woke up and realized I have another year of TTC ahead of me, only this time I know my chances of conceiving are less than 3%. I will also be following a diet that requires almost constant self-deprivation in hopes of being able to conceive, so every month I don’t get pregnant, I’ll wonder if I should keep up the diet (and all the supplements) or just abandon ship. It’s going to be a hard road, one I’ve been able to avoid thinking about because of my AWOL cycles. But last Thursday I ovulated again which means next month we’ll be back on the baby making bandwagon. And I need to get in a head space that allows me to keep doing the hard work of staying on my diet and having scheduled sex (and dealing with monthly BFNs) while simultaneously preparing myself to move on to adoption or accepting our family of three. It’s going to be challenging, to say the least.
I hope I can keep handling things as well as I have been when shit gets real again next month. I guess only time will tell.