I haven’t had a lot to say during this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week. Part of it has to do with some personal, non-family stuff going on, and part of it is that I’m a mom of a seven-month-old baby.
But that brings me to my annual NIAW post. This year’s them is “Listen Up,” and I think it’s appropriate that I talk about having a child after dealing with infertility. I know a lot of infertility vets, and I know a lot of us hear comments that are heartbreaking after we’ve made it to “the other side,” so to speak.
“When are you going to have another?”
“Be glad you have one.”
“My friend’s cousin’s sister-in-law couldn’t get pregnant, but after IVF, she accidentally got pregnant, so that’ll happen to you, too.”
Having a child does not cure infertility. It cures childlessness. But it does not mean I am suddenly no longer infertile, and it certainly does not mean I am suddenly fertile.
When am I going to have another? It took over two years to get pregnant with my twins, and I had to go halfway around the world and use donor eggs to conceive. After that, I had to terminate one of them halfway through the pregnancy. Most days, I doubt we will ever “try” again, especially since “trying” for us would consist of going back to Europe. Please don’t ask. It hurts my heart.
Be glad I have one? I am eternally grateful that Olivia is here with us, especially considering our circumstances. The many infertility vets I know are also loss veterans who have experienced multiple miscarriages. I promise you that they feel so blessed to have their “one,” but that does not mean that their heart doesn’t yearn for another child, that their family doesn’t feel complete. We all dream of what our family will look like one day, and infertility robs us of those dreams.
That statistic-defying thing will happen to me, too? I highly doubt it. I would welcome that unexpected surprise, but I doubt it. The reason you heard about that story is because it’s rare.
Our family is ecstatic to have Olivia in it. Life has changed for the better since she’s come into the world. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t also mourn the life that we pictured – both the life that we pictured that involved Olivia AND Cate and the life that involved our family having more children in general. Infertility has stolen that dream from us. We may have a child, but we’re still infertile, and we still have to come to terms with the struggles we will face should we decide to try again. Infertility is a beast, and it’s not something I would wish on anyone.
Let me also remind those of you who might tell someone who is in the throes of infertility to “just adopt” that adopting a child also does not cure someone’s infertility. It gives them a child. But they are still infertile. They are still missing some vital part of themselves, or that’s how they feel. So “just adopt” does not get to the root of the problem. Please, I’m begging you, don’t tell someone who is struggling to get pregnant to “just adopt” or to “consider adopting” or that there are “orphans who need a home” or any variant of that. It isn’t the job of the infertile people of the world to adopt every child in need of a home. We want to have our own children, too.