Monday, January 21, 2008

Secondary thoughts.

Anyone who's been to this blog has probably been to me first blog, which is all about my journey to conceive our third child.

In the big infertility blogosphere, there are many of us. Many are struggling with primary infertility. Having been there myself, I feel that I can speak to it and even compare it to what I'm going through now: Secondary infertility.

Although I don't want to have any sort of debate on which is worse, because, as Mel put it just today, "we each have our own unique suckage and my suckage doesn't detract from the gravity of your suckage". But I did have to touch on it a bit to be able to talk about what I want to talk about.

Primary infertility sucks in a way that's unique to secondary. Primary infertiles don't yet know if they'll ever become a mother and that's pretty damned scary. Secondary infertiles have already had a taste of what it's like, so the idea of not being able to succeed again is torturous. There are other aspects of each that are particular to each situation also. How each type lives outside of IF is very important to how the IF is dealt with itself. Primaries can go to bed and sleep away their troubles. Or they can go out with their husbands and get away from home. They can then sleep in the next day, sleep until their minds and bodies snap them out of bed. Secondaries have a child or children already, so our daily tasks remain pretty much the same. But we can immerse ourselves in our children's love and kisses on a bad day. Which leads me to what I want to talk about.

When I was a primary infertile, I didn't, well, I couldn't understand the secondary infertile. I couldn't understand how in the world a secondary infertile could feel as disappointed as I felt at the time. After a BFN, I would sit and cry in an empty house while a secondary infertile could go hug their children. It seemed absurd that those children wouldn't make it "all better" in a matter of a moment. Weren't their children enough?

As a secondary infertile, I can't answer that question. Why aren't they enough? I wrestle with this on each failed cycle. On each month that ends in disappointment. Although I do hug them and kiss them when I'm feeling down, they don't take away the pain of the infertility. They make me feel better, yes. But in a way that my husband taking me out to a movie and some drinks made me feel better when I was a primary infertile. They are a good distraction, but not a fix.

I look at my grown babies - mere children. Ella is almost 4 and Allison is 2 and a half. While I love these children to pieces, they aren't what I am trying for. I have children, but I'm trying to get pregnant and have a baby. It's like the two don't even have anything to do with one another. And that sounds ridiculous. I've thought long and hard to make sure it wasn't just that I wanted the novelty of being pregnant and having a newborn to oooo and ahhhh over. I want to add to my family. And the little newborn I crave will grow into one of these older children. That is what I want to end up with. But it's not what I'm trying for now.

This has been a huge deal for my brain for the past few months. Really, it was ever since Farah had asked me months ago, in response to my own Primary vs Secondary blog posting, ~ "Isn't one enough?" and poured out some very raw feelings about how she was "angry and uncompassionate and quite judging about this so called secondary infertility". Farah's response was written in good faith, as she was trying to understand the aspect of it all herself. It just brought up all the things that us secondary IFers cringe to. I commend her for at least being true to her own feelings on the subject.

That discussion and all the comments that came with it hurt my heart pretty deeply and has never left my head. And I don't "fault" her for her feelings at all. At the time, she was in the trenches of primary infertility and hopefully she will never ever face secondary. Hopefully when she tries again, she'll get pregnant in the "normal" amount of time. I had the same hopes for myself. When I was surprised out of my gourd when I became pregnant after only one try for #2, I was beside myself. I has assumed that after dealing with primary IF, I would, without question, have secondary IF. But I dodged it. Then, after the customary 12 months of ttc #3, I had to face facts. I wasn't dodging a bullet this time. A year into ttc#3, I had Secondary IF.

I think many secondary infertiles are sensitive on this subject. I think that is why I probably spent so much time thinking about the comments given to me regarding my views of secondary vs primary infertility and the other blog posts that were spawned. Again, using Mel's words from today "don't we live in a world where we can all recognize that we each have our own unique suckage and my suckage doesn't detract from the gravity of your suckage? Can we not engage in comparative suckage? I will recognize yours if you will recognize mine."

Through all of the recognizing of suckage, I still grapple with that one question. "Why aren't they enough?" And all I can say, through my broken heart and tears, is they aren't enough. I wish they were.


Jenera said...

Obviously I have never dealt with IF. What I can respond to is having one child and losing another.

i always feel extremely grateful and blessed with my wonderful son. I knew I very lucky to even have him, let alone becoming pregnant with my second.

When I lost the baby, I still felt so lucky to have such a healthy boy but I also felt guilty for the extreme loss and hurt that I had for that baby. I had a hard time-and still do-dealing with that loss. For a brief moment, I did forget how lucky I was. But still, having my son and knowing I was so blessed with him, it did not take that hurt away.

I imagine secondary IF is something like that. No matter how blessed you feel, you still have that emptiness or loss.

bleu said...

I have spent a good deal of time with the question. I had a m/c before I had Bliss, but I did not face IF at all. I was convinced after that m/c that I would never get to have a child and I had a serious breakdown. Maybe that added to why I was, somehow though, always aware of the pain of IF of others. I doubt I was near sensitive enough but it was an acute awareness. I have always been an empath and it was one thing I felt so much pain around from others.
Anyhow I digress. I think with secondary IF it can be so specified as to reasons. I look at you and Mel and I think "well at least they have 2" in some small recess of my mind. I dismiss it quickly because I know better but I have felt it at times.

My HUGE thing is this. If I never had another child I would still thank goddess each and every day for having Bliss and I would consider myself so lucky. My problem is that I would never believe I was doing what was best for Bliss. I would never heal that. He needs a sibling, period. I also would very likely, and with absolutely zero humor do I say this, smother him to the point of it negatively affecting him. I am terrified of that. I want more than anything else in the world to be a great mama to him, to be what he needs and what helps him grow up knowing who he is and how loved he is. I do not believe I am capable of giving him that best without having another child.

Then add to that my desire to carry again, to feel a child within, to try and have a positive birth experience for once and even maybe a vaginal birth.

The kicker is that while in this secondary IF hell, I do not believe I am being the best mama I could be because it has so totally consumed me. It takes energy and focus from him, which I don't want. We are not near as active as we used to be. I do not do play groups as much with all the second and third babies of friends at the groups right now.

So it is like a never ending catch 22 and all the while I am now 40 and cannot put it off any longer. Add again the fact that we move in a year to Canada and won't have the coverage I have now it is just hell.

But ya see, this is just me, my story. I think primary IF has so much tied to never being a mom, but secondary has so many various other things but that is just my personal experience.

Sorry for the novel.

nancy said...

Bleu - you bring up a point I scraped on but didn't go into - what you said about the "desire to carry again, to feel a child within" IS, in fact, a big deal to my wanting this. But I have been able to acknowledge that it's not ~THE~ reason.

And I totally agree with your comment "I think primary IF has so much tied to never being a mom, but secondary has so many various other things"

Rachel Inbar said...

I went through both primary and secondary IF and I have a possible answer to your question as to why the children you have aren't enough.

Part of infertility is losing your dream - whatever dream it is - of being able to conceive at will; having as many children as you want; having 2 babies close together; having a big family; finding out you're pregnant when it's already late enough to see a heartbeat on the ultrasound... whatever your dreams were. It's not just having a child or children, it's the whole package. It's how you wanted your life to be or imagined it being. It's what you see as your family. This doesn't detract anything from the children you have, it just means that you still haven't fulfilled your dream of having the family that you wanted.

And BTW, 35 is still young :-)

nancy said...

Rachel, you are awesome. Thanks!

Jenera - you are too. :)

BethH6703 said...

As a primary IF'er, I don't know that I have much value to add to this discussion. I will say that I subscribe to Mel's theory... just because I can't understand the pain of Secondary IF (yet), doesn't mean it doesn't exist, or that it doesn't hurt as much as the pain I experience as a primary IFer.

And really, why the hell is it a contest? Mine hurts, and so does yours. Does it matter which is worse?

Granted, I'll fully admit that I have my snarky moments, and wonder why your 2 (or someone else's 1, or 4, or whatever) isn't enough. Or I think of all the things I'd trade to be in that person's shoes... wanting 1 more, rather than simply hoping & praying that I get the chance at 1. But then I kick my own ass, and remind myself that just because I don't understand your pain doesn't make it any less real.

Pretty wordy for not having much to add, huh? (blush)

nancy said...

What "gets" me is I can't answer the question of why my children AREN'T enough. I want them to be enough so badly. And that fills me with guilt.

BethH6703 said...

That must be especially hard, Nancy. Wanting to be fulfilled with all the things I do have, without children, can't even compare to wanting to be fulfilled with the 2 little dolls you do have. Again, another perspective I hadn't thought of.


Christy said...

I have not suffered with secondary IF, however in my first mariage I was not able to conceive and was labeled infertile. I tried to accept that fact but never could and it ultimately lead to the end of an 8 year marriage.

After being blessed with #1 I instantly (like while still in the hospital) felt that I needed another one. I started to ache for #2.

I can understand what you are feeling and the *need to have another* that you feel.

I think you are a very strong woman to be able to deal with this yet atill have the energy and strength (emotionally) to raise your 2 DD's with all the love and support thay could ever need.

Bean said...


Thanks for a very thoughtful post. I can't answer the question of why the children we have aren't enough any more than anyone else can. I will say that when I've received comments ala "just be happy for the one you have", inevitabley from someone with two or three children, I really have to bite my lip. Of course I AM happy, in fact I am eternally grateful for and in awe of my child, but wanting more children has absolutely nothing to do with how much I love the child I have. And if it did, then wouldn't that be true for everyone, and then why don't we ask all those fertiles out there who have 2 or 3 or 4 or more kids (sometimes in the blink of an eye), why they needed to have more children? Why didn't they stop at one or two, weren't THEY happy with the child or children they already had? It infuriates me that just because we're infertile somehow we're made to feel that we need to justify our desire for more than one or two or three kids, but no one else has to.

Fertilize Me said...

I think my comment got ate by blogger...

Kaci said...

I cannot come close to understanding either, other than remembering how much it hurt when I got BFNs and knowing the pain I feel now when a dear friend gets AF or a BFN, and imagining that pain magnified to what she must feel. I can only empathize.

With secondary IF, again I can only empathize. I think of how incomplete my family feels now - I can understand how it is not enough.

I certainly can't compare the pain, or assume that one would be worse than the other. But I can offer support to my friends who are experiencing either...

Fertilize Me said...

My comment was ate by blogger - so i will do my best to rewrite it:

My blog was written in 2 parts - the first part was showing that i was one of the Primary IF'ers that did not understand Secondary, Part 2 - was a realization sitting in my very first Resolve Meeting. There were Secondary IF'er getting barrated (sp?) by Primary IF'ers. And at that moment - my heart was filled with compassion for the secondary and sank from the guilt I felt for over the years scorning those in the secondary catagory. I saw their pain and i saw how awful they were being treated in this meeting. It was horrifying and I have not been back since.

I understand that pain is pain and that lost dreams are still lost dreams. I can not relate to the secondary catagory but that does not make it less real in the pain factor. There are alot of things that I cannot relate to but that doesnt make those real either.

I may deal with lost dreams differently but that is no fault of anyones. I am sorry that I caused you more pain - I wan't trying to infect pain on anyone. I am merey just one trying to survive like the rest of us

nancy said...

Farah - I understand all of that. And my post wasn't to point you out for hurt feelings. You were just the one who asked those questions, so that's why I used you as the example. By no means am I saying ~you~ hurt my feelings and I didn't mean it that way at all. I simply was trying to figure out why those questions are so unanswered on my end.

~ Joe ♥ said...

You, know what Nancy, I've never expierienced infertility and have never know anyone who has. So, to be honest I've never understood it never sympathised with anyone whos expierienced it until I started reading your blogs and now I get it... secondary or primary its YOUR story that has opened my eyes.

Life With Jack said...

As someone going through secondary IF, I get your questions. I don't have answers to them though. I don't understand why my son isn't enough. I think Rachel said it really well - that it's losing a dream. It hurts so badly to not have that dream fulfilled. Secondary IF brings with it a whole host of emotions that I never had with primary IF.

BTW, I am an oooooold WebMD'er that was pg with my ds at the same time you were pg with Allison. Nice to have "found" you again! :)

Io said...

I so have nothing to add to all the insightful thing the women above me have said, just wanted to let you know that I'm here and I hurt for you. If feelings were rational they wouldn't be feelings.

Nico said...

I think Rachel puts it very well - that one of the same things about primary and secondary infertility is having to face the loss of your dreams.

Also, bean makes an excellent point about people who have been able to have 2,3,4 (or, gag me, 17) kids, however many they want, having no right to ask anyone else why they're not okay with the kids they have. Ask them which of *their* children they'd rather not have.

Basically, it sucks that anyone has to go through the month after month loss and despair that accompany being denied your heart's desire for a child, no matter what number.

Stephanie said...

You know, having met and played with your children in person, I cannot possibly understand how these two perfect little girls are not enough. It is sad really - like makes my heart heavy for them. Nancy, we are not friends, you and I. We do not talk anymore or chat. There are far too many holes in our past friendship to ever stay atop the water, but your children I still check on. I always look to see how they have grown or see if something new is happening with them and each time I look, I only see you and your sorrow. What happens if you do not have a 3rd? Will your girls forever “just have to do” for you? What happens as they get older and they see the things you have written, that they are not enough for you? Look at what you are missing, Nanc. Your babies are not getting younger - don’t continue crying for what you already have.

nancy said...

Stephanie, I can see how you think what you are telling me here. And it'll be hard to explain in the way of a non-ttc-er, but I'll try.

As my children, they are enough. In my words of "they aren't enough", I mean that in my wanting of another child. NOT how I love them now. I would never ever think that I am "just making do" with them now. They mean the world to me and I feel lucky and blessed to be their mother. I am very involved in their lives and I have my eyes wide open every day when it comes to them.

The "they aren't enough" solely means they don't quench my thirst in the wanting of a third. In regards to what I have now, I'm not missing a beat.

I can see how you could of totally taken this post the wrong way. How it would seem that I'm saying these little girls aren't enough for me as a family. It's only that I want more. That these two perfect little girls don't keep me from wanting more. If I don't get another child, they are nothing I will have to "make do" with! No way - they are my light - my life. I know what I have. And that is exactly why I want more. And why I can't stop from crying over the empty seat at my table.

Danifred said...

FINALLY, I've found a blog I can relate to! Thank you!

Duck said...

I'm a primary ivfer, so in a lot of ways I can't relate to secondary. But, I still believe that it's painful, my dear friend told me that she found the secondary IF to be harder than primary, because her ds was a reminder of what she would never have again.
I can understand how that would be hell and my heart goes out to you.