*Content warning: We have 2 children but are still in the trenches trying to expand our family.*
Mother’s Day is coming up this weekend, which is bringing up all of my feelings about infertility. This has been an incredibly painful holiday for me over the last 5 years that we’ve been building our family. At the age of 28 I was diagnosed with Diminished Ovarian Reserve, we had been trying to conceive naturally for 2 years at that point, and this holiday had become like a fist to my gut. Every time it rolled around I turned off my social media notifications and avoided the grocery stores and malls like the plague. Of course, I wanted to celebrate my mother but felt like my own pain and terror at not getting to become a mother really overrode the holiday feeling. I found it incredibly difficult to turn off that ache in my heart and look past myself to everyone else that this holiday represents, it was selfish but that’s the truth. I had hoped that if we got to the other side and I got to celebrate Mother’s Day with my own children I would feel differently and be able to love this holiday… But so far that has not been the case.
We’ve now been blessed with 2 wonderful kids and I can still say that Mother’s Day gives me more heartache than joy. I wonder if that’s because I don’t really feel ‘done’ yet. I wonder if that’s because we still have 3 frozen embryos that could be potential babies. I wonder if it’s because the spectre of infertility is still looming too large for me to fully embrace all this role has to offer. It doesn’t help that when we go to Mother’s Day celebrations with family and friends the inevitable question comes up- “Are you guys planning to have more children?” Oof! That question never gets easier to hear. Yes, even with two children. Even though we wound up with one boy and one girl.
They still ask… And it still tears open the half healed wounds from our trying to conceive journey all over again.
In a perfect world I think our family would like to add a third child before we called it quits. I don’t feel that completeness that people talk about when they are ready to walk away from family planning and move on with their lives. Boy, how I WISH I felt that way. Because the truth is even though I’d like a third child the reality is more complicated. I am infertile- I have only a 5% chance of naturally conceiving. We have spent tens of thousands of dollars and numerous years chasing the dream of a positive pregnancy test and, if I’m speaking honestly, I don’t know that I have it in me to try that hard again. Even though we have 3 frozen embryos from our IVF round that we could use. Their existence is actually something that hinders my rationalizations that we should probably be done. Their existence makes it really real, the idea of another child- they are already created, their potential just put on hold. Those frosties make it so difficult to not have hope for that next positive pregnancy test. But even that hope is complicated, because those embryos are in a different city than we are now and so the ability to use them has become a drawn out, more expensive process.
So, how will we know when we’re done?
When is enough, enough and we need to move on from this crazy, emotional rollercoaster? Does trying again make us selfish? Shouldn’t our two healthy babies be enough?
What kind of Masochist keeps coming back to the table again and again for more pain when you have “gotten what you wanted”?
“DO we want more children?!”
It’s complicated. Infertility has dictated my emotions for half a decade and I’d like to walk away. But I find myself sucked up into the vortex of hope nearly every month. And that’s without technically trying! But I say to myself, that one time might have been close to ovulation, what if? And I find myself fantasizing about how cool it would be to tell my first born and this imaginary third child that they are “twins” because they were created during the same fertilization round. I wonder if I will ever again feel the quickening of a baby in my belly or if it’s time to put these thoughts behind me for good.
Mother’s day just makes all of these feelings and emotions front and center again.
While my children’s existence has taken the sharp edge off of this holiday it’s so hard to not get sucked into all that I wish this day represented- A fulfilled family. That’s what this holiday represents to those of us struggling in the trenches of infertility. The hope for a resolution of this struggle with the family you picture. Unfortunately, I just don’t feel that resolved yet. I hope that this weekend while the world celebrates mothers you are able to take a step back and love on yourself.
I hope that you are able to understand that you are working hard for those potential babies and that that counts too. Even if you don’t have children in your household yet you are working as hard as a mother. Your commitment to the dream of your children is meaningful. I don’t know if I will ever be able to fully celebrate this holiday with the family I long for and would have created had we been fertile instead of not. But I can celebrate that I have hope for a child. That’s all any of us in the trenches can do.
AKA: Unpregnant Chicken