It's around this time in motherhood when you start to hear those familiar questions and phrases. The ones that you're unsure of how to answer at this point, because you neither want anyone to think they've somehow unintentionally hurt your feelings, nor do you want to make them feel bad for asking a simple question. These sorts of things are the typical social pleasantries that fill conversations with parents whose first child has passed the age of two, three, four.
"So, when are you going to give Eisley a sibling?"
"You make cute kids! You should have more babies!"
"Are you thinking about trying for another?"
As of this month, we've been trying for a year to have a second child. That's not the sort of thing that you can slip into a casual conversation, so for the most part I'm just able to offer a smile, nod and a simple, "Well, we're hoping it happens sometime in the next year!"
It has made me think a lot about the silent struggles so many people go through…the ones you never know or see or have any sign of. There are many of these things that you just don't talk about with those outside your trusted circle of family and friends. Things like infertility, pregnancy loss, postpartum anxiety or depression. These things that have a huge impact on our lives as women are the things we often keep quietly to ourselves.
Granted, this isn't something I want to talk about with everyone. And I'm only writing about it here because it's something I've wanted to open up about for a while now—and writing it feels somehow safer. Yes, I'm writing the words, but I don't have to have the face-to-face conversation with each of you (during which I would either try to act very unaffected by the whole thing to avoid awkwardness or start crying and achieve complete and utter awkwardness).
And the thing is, I've always been so touched by women who have shared their own stories and struggles and sadness. It's okay to be sad, it's okay to struggle…after all, we all end up being touched by these things in one way or another. They become a part of our stories. And this—something I never anticipated—is now part of mine.
I don't think I ever fully understood how someone with one child could experience grief and pain when trying to have another. There have been people very close to me who have struggled for years with this exact thing, and I know of more than one occasion when I said something to the effect of, "I'm so glad you have your first child. At least you have them." In my head at the time, it sounded perfect and made complete sense. I realize now that those words don't help. Because I say these words to myself, as a means to pacify my intense desire to have more children, and the only thing I'm left with is guilt.
In some ways, it feels like an accusation that I don't love my daughter enough, that she isn't enough for me, that I don't have the right to grieve not having additional children because I already have one.
But you know what? That's not it at all. It's something much deeper than that, the desire to have another child. I wish there was a way to put it into words that made any sense, but the only way I can put it is that our family just doesn't feel complete yet. It just doesn't feel like all the little people I'm meant to mother have arrived. I can't believe that I won't have another baby, so I refuse to think of it as a possibility. (Even though there is no guarantee.)
I know I'm still young-ish, when it comes to my ability to have a child. I'm meeting with my doctor to discuss the next steps, now that I'm technically dealing with secondary infertility. (Those are some scary words, to be completely honest.) But I worry so much about how this journey will change my heart. It's just hard. And disappointing. And sad, a lot of the time. And not knowing what the outcome will be, or what I'll be asked to accept, is just something that is hard for me to even think about.
I wonder if this post will come across as silly or dramatic if I end up getting pregnant in the next couple months. But in a way, I don't mind if it does. No matter what happens, this past year has changed me in many ways. It's been very humbling (especially because I was miraculously able to get pregnant with Eisley almost immediately after we started trying). It has given me much more understanding and empathy for women who are in similar circumstances. And it does make me even more grateful to have been given the opportunity to be a mother to the daughter I do have.
So, that's where I'm at right now. Not exactly heartbroken, not exactly optimistic, not exactly hopeless, not exactly sure of anything. The only thing I can do is just keep on doing whatever I can do to remember the things that matter.
— Further reading: More than Just a Fever
— Further reading: More than Just a Fever