I know I’ve written before about the gratitude I feel about having a second child and how happy I am that our family can finally feel complete. But I would be lying if I said it isn’t hard sometimes to walk away from the idea of a third kid. I don’t know where it originally came from–I only have one living sibling so it’s not like I’m trying to recreate the kind of family I grew up in by having three kids. Maybe I’m trying to have the family my parents wanted but didn’t get. My mom wanted four kids and my dad wanted two so they settled on three. But then my sister died and my mother had three stillbirths so they stopped when my only living sister was born. Maybe I wanted three kids because they couldn’t have three themselves.

Three kids is not in the cards for us. And honestly, a lot of the time I’m totally okay with that. A lot of the time I actually think it’s what’s best for our family. We live in an expensive city. The only way we survive here financially is through the very generous help of family, family we can’t depend on forever. It would be selfish of us to ask them to help us with a third child and without their help, we absolutely couldn’t afford childcare for three children.

We can’t afford it, my husband doesn’t even want it, and our fertility issues make it all but impossible. Not having a third child isn’t even a choice for us. It isn’t meant to be. Our family is complete. And yet… it’s hard sometimes. It’s hard to let go of that original dream. It’s hard not to wonder… what if?

I think it will be hard for me, when people I know start having third children. I almost asked my friends yesterday, the ones who have kids close in age to our own, if they were planning on having a third child (they have initiated the conversation in the past, which is the only reason I would ask now). I know they originally wanted four, but then decided that was too much and even said once that they might be done at two. I’m guessing they’ll have three. I’m guessing my cousin will have three. Probably quite a few of our friends will have three. It’s something I have to be ready for, people expanding their families while ours stays the same size. I will be very happy for them, but it will be hard not to consider our own family size and not think of my original dreams. Watching someone do what you can’t, but wanted to, do is difficult, even when you know in your mind that what they have isn’t what’s best for your family.

Our hearts are stubborn forces. I wish our minds held more sway over them. I wish all the rational thinking that helps me know it’s right for us to be a family of four could keep my heart convinced.

There are other feelings swirling around this issue too. One is the immense gratitude I feel that we even have two children. I really didn’t think we’d get to have a second child and then we did and he’s amazing and I am so thankful. There is also guilt, because I have TWO children and so many people want a second child, or any children at all, so who I am to want a third? And honestly, I know this isn’t a popular sentiment in this community but I truly believe that I SHOULD be grateful, JUST grateful for what I have when I know so many people who have less. I get that we all want what we want and we have our own dreams for our family and we can grieve those dreams. I get that, I do, but I also think it’s kind of selfish of me to wish I had more when so many people have less. This is just how I feel about myself, it’s a deeply personal expectation (as in, I don’t expect others to feel that way, nor do I think they should) and most of the time I live up to it, but sometimes I falter.

Like when Mi.Vida talks about scheduling his vasectomy (have I mentioned how much Mi.Vida DOESN’T want to have another kid?) and the finality of that action settles like cold stone in my stomach. I feel that tight weight when I get rid or something from Monito’s infancy, like the co-sleeper and bouncy chair I recently sold.

And then there are moments, like yesterday, when I pulled out the baby food ice trays and I thought, “When I stored these away I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to use them again. I can’t believe how lucky I am that I’m pureeing carrots for a second child.” In those moments I am flooded with this warmth of gratitude, I literally feel it wash through my body like a wave, emanating heat from deep within me. It’s an incredible feeling, one I can wrap myself in for week, and even months, at a time.

The feeling of wishing I could have a third child is murkier. It’s more distant, like a memory of something that happened in the distant past. It’s not usually a visceral reaction, like my gratitude, it’s more like that tingle you get in your jaws when you think of eating something sour. It’s intense for a short moment, but it fades quickly and then you barely even register that it’s there.

That is where my wanting a third child is now. Just a tingle in my jaw when I read a post, or see a family that might be announcing their third pregnancy. It’s a very dully ache that I can’t quite place and that disappears before my mind can linger on it.

I’m sure I’ll oscillate between these two feelings a lot in the coming years, as those we know build their families while we do not. I just hope that I swing to the side of gratitude and acceptance more than to the side of envy and wanting, because I do have so much and our family is so very lucky.

What is your experience with infertility and family size? How do you feel about it?

Why me?

I’ve read many posts in which ALI bloggers ask the question Why me? But usually they are wondering why they are being forced to endure the struggles of IF and loss.

I have been asking the question Why me? a lot lately, but I’m asking it for the opposite reason.

What I want to know is why do I get to have a second child when so many others are struggling to have their first or were never able to have a second… or have no living children to parent at all? Why do I get to have so much when so many others are left wanting, when they have struggled for so much longer than I have and endured so much more suffering? Why were we able to get pregnant despite two diagnoses when others can’t get pregnant when no causes are found? Why did we only suffer one miscarriage when others have lost so many more babies?

I know I will never know the answers to these questions. I try not to let the guilt overwhelm me, but sometimes I just feel horrible that I’ve been given so much when others are wanting. I feel like I cut in line, not once but twice. I recognize how horribly unfair it is and I feel guilty for being the one who is on the more advantageous side of the lopsided equation.

The truth is, my life is pretty close to perfect right now. We have achieved everything we worked for in the last five years. We had our daughter. We bought a house in the city we love. Mi.Vida got a new job that will better support our family and give him valuable opportunities in a field that interests him. We are expecting our second child. We can finally get married in the state where we live.

Why do we get to have all of these things while other people are left wanting one or more (sometimes all of them). Who are we to have so much?

On the one hand I feel like I should apologize for all I have, that I must constantly acknowledge the MUCHNESS of it. On the other hand I feel this great responsibility to appreciate it all, to take nothing for granted. Knowing how much others would give to have what I’ve been given is a great weight, resting heavily on my shoulders.

With great happiness comes great responsibility.

My therapist urges me to combat my anxiety with gratitude work, but she doesn’t tell me what to do when all that gratitude becomes guilt. How do I appreciate everything I have without feeling guilty for having it when others do not? I don’t know how to do that yet. It is a puzzle and I’m barely able to piece together the edges, let alone see what the picture is.

I know this community is a complicated place. I want to make clear that absolutely NO ONE has made me feel this way. I have only received love and support for my successes, even from those who have been left wanting while I have forged ahead with my shiny new perfect life. Everyone’s gracious support has been so appreciated. I know this is my own shit that I have to deal with, and I’m sure I’ll figure out how. Eventually.

Have you ever felt guilt for what you have? How do you manage it?

Pep Talk

As you all know, I’ve created a goal for myself this summer: to completely redo my yard. I’ve determined the five specific things I want to get done and even outlined the steps I need to take to get there. This week, I bought the tools I needed to get started and I got to work. I’ve spent about five hours (of concentrated work time) in the backyard over the last three days and so far I’ve accomplished this:

photo-163That is about 55 sq ft of cleared space. I have about 45 sq ft left on this stretch and then about 300 sq ft in the middle and another 100 sq ft on the other side (plus another 100 sq ft along the back that I’m not trying to clear this summer). All of it needs to be cleared. And clearing it requires an incredible amount of difficult but mind numbingly boring work. I can’t tell you how slowly that 55 sq ft of overgrown grass was pulled up. It literally takes me an hour to get through a 10 sq ft section. Every time I look at the 300 sq ft middle square my heart drops. I just can fathom how I’m going to pull up all the dead grass and weeds and then amend the soil (I learned that word at the nursery today! Slowly I’m becoming a real gardener.) before I actually plant the ground cover. And of course, when I plant the ground cover it will just be little ground cover seedlings planted a foot apart for months until they grow together. That is assuming they actually even grow.

The whole thing just feels incredibly overwhelming. I honestly don’t know if I have it in me to do it all.

I’m the kind of person who fixates on a project I’ve started. Once I take those first steps I want to do it all the time; it’s hard for me to stop and do other thing when I know there is so much more to accomplish. Every time I look outside those last 45 sq ft taunt me, reminding me of all I still have to do. I pretty much can’t work on other things while I know how much more there still is to do outside.

And yet, the task awaiting me in the backyard feels too big. I just don’t think I can do it. It will literally take all summer for me to pull up all the grass, amend the soil and plant new things. All fucking summer. And even if I get it all done, I have no idea if the plants will thrive. All this hard work might be for naught.

Today, as I was washing dishes, I glanced out at the backyard and felt my heart just sink. I considered just abandoning the whole enterprise; it literally felt impossible. Then I reminded myself that I had just started, that I still have 7 weeks to work back there, that if I persist it will get done, slowly but surely.

As I was giving myself that pep talk, I was suddenly reminded of how overwhelmingly impossible our secondary infertility diagnosis felt, just six months ago. I remember how long the six months of no caffeine/alcohol/dairy/wheat/sugar diet seemed, especially with a husband that was only following it begrudgingly, and with a significant amount of resentment. We weren’t sure how much we could save for treatments that summer or if those treatments would even be worth spending our money on. We were just starting to dip our toes into the deep pool of acceptance, beginning to imagine our life with just one child. I were also exploring foster adoption, even though I guessed Mi.Vida would never feel comfortable going down that road.

The whole thing felt impossibly overwhelming and there were many days I cried myself to sleep, unsure we could do it.

And then every morning I woke up and did what I had to do, no matter how hard it was, no matter how impossible it felt.

If I could do that, I can do this. Sure it will take forever. Sure my muscles will hurt and my palms will scream and my back will ache and my mind will beg me to do something more interesting. Sure it will be tedious as all fuck, and there will be moments I just need to throw down my tiller (I’ve already broken two by the way, tomorrow will be the first morning I don’t need to exchange a busted one for an in-tact model) and go the fuck inside to take a break. There will be times I walk away from the yard feeling super disappointed by how little I’ve accomplished, but there will also be days I am proud of what I have done.

And maybe, just maybe, at the end of the summer, I will have a backyard I can take pride in, a space I want to spend time in, that feels like an extension of my home.

Have you ever started a project that later felt too overwhelming to complete? Did you keep going or abandon the attempt?

Knocked Down

Since we started testing, Mi.Vida and I have received a number of severe blows. We keep getting knocked down, over and over again. We try to get back up, we try to grasp onto hope, but then another blow comes and we go toppling.

Today we received the preliminary results of Mi.Vida’s second SA. This one was taken at the RE’s office, to rule out transport being an issue. While the strict morphology results aren’t in yet (that will take a few more days) the rest of the results are available.

They aren’t good.

Here is what my doctor’s email said:

For perspective, the counts are approaching or in the range in which IVF is generally the recommended modality.
Volume 5.3 cc  (prior 4.5 cc)
Motility 14% (prior 35%)
Concentration 4 Mil/mL (prior 18.9 Mil/mL)
No RBC or WBC (prior Mod RBC, Few WBC noted)

From what I can see with my untrained eye the results look quite a bit worse. And if it is recommended that we move right to IVF, I don’t know how we’ll feel about spending money on IUIs.

Because we can’t actually afford IVF–at least not for a few years–this comes as a big blow. I honestly don’t know how we’ll move forward.

I will admit, I’m surprised, heartbroken really. I had high hopes (or at least hopes) that his results would be better. I thought maybe the almost hour in transit between my boobs messed things up. I thought maybe things just weren’t great that day. So many people told me stories of bad first SAs and great second ones. I thought that would be us.

But it’s not. Every piece of diagnostic information is a slap in the face. We just keep getting knocked down. And I don’t know how many more times we can get back up.