Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Make No Mistake

The lovely Bee Cee left a comment on my previous post, "Hoping 2009 is our year." It is one of those statements that seems so simple, but makes your mind twist a bit - like the punch line of a good joke. Although this line didn't make me laugh, I felt my brain trying to wrap itself around it.

Make no mistake, I have had my year and it has been wonderful. I am thrilled to be where we are at in terms of family building. Bee Cee, on the other hand, is still trying for her first child. While I appreciate her comment and certainly hope to be successful with a sibling, trying for one child and trying for a sibling are two entirely different things.

I know the 'primary fertility vs secondary fertility' debate has been discussed (often heatedly) many times before and the politically correct answer is either "they are the same" or "you can't compare them" I am going to cross the line and be politically incorrect. Stop reading here if you wish.

There is some truth in "you can't compare them" because everyone brings their own experiences and beliefs to the point where they are having difficulty conceiving a child. The first time someone has truly had to face not getting the number of children she wants, it is devastating. There is pain and disappointment. And really there is no way to compare one person's pain with another's. One person may shrug her shoulders over not having a single child and another may fall apart over not getting the third child she always dreamed of.

But still.

If you have one child, then you get to parent. If you have no children it is an entirely different coarse. If you don't believe me, pick a random infertility blog where the person has been successful with at least one child. Then pick a childfree after infertility blog such as Coming2Terms. Sit down and read for a bit. Notice how the former (assuming they don't avoid the subject of children alltogether) will have parenting stories like happy times around the holidays or a child's first steps or the unhappy call from a teacher or a million other events all centered around the child(ren). Notice how the latter will talk about not leaving a legacy, not having grandchildren, feeling left out in group discussions, enjoying a vacation that was made better by meeting another childfree couple. Notice also the lack of stories about parenting decisions, play groups and midnight feedings. Yes, the involuntary childless can find happiness and a life that does not involve their own children, but it is not easy. Take the latter scenario and add just one child and Poof! it is another situation all together.

Put another way, the difference between primary and secondary infertility is like the difference between adding oxygen to hydrogen and getting water or adding water to water.

I hope that we will be successful in adding another child to our family. I have always envisioned at least two children and I will be disappointed and sad if it doesn't work. Yet, I recognize that one is much better than none and two would be icing on the cake. Granted, that is some tasty icing, but icing nonetheless.

15 comments:

squarepeg said...

Longtime reader and now donor-egg explorer here. Thank you. Thank you so much.

Smiling said...

Thanks for your post.. as someone hoping for 2009 as a way to move from one camp to the other (cuz the menopausal me can only hope to graduate from primary to secondary infertility) I found it interesting.

I do sometimes wonder if it is sometimes easier because I don't know what I am missing first hand. I also can't imagine the dramas of treatment while juggling parenting. I'd take the challenge ina heartbeat, but there are just so many differences between the two experiences... and so much common sadness and struggle.

As always, I love reading what you write!

Sara said...

Well said. As a primary infertile only a few months away from being a secondary infertile, I couldn't agree more.

MrsSpock said...

I agree with you 100%. When I think about what might be necessary to have child #2, the emotions are much less painful that when thinking about whether we would ever even experience parenting #1. This does not mean that subsequent disappointments will not bring grief- but we have a son. There really is no comparison.

Pamela Jeanne said...

This statement from Smiling is jarring: "I do sometimes wonder if it is sometimes easier because I don't know what I am missing first hand."

If you're implying that women without children (those who live with primary infertility for a lifetime) don't know what we're missing you couldn't be more wrong. I know *exactly* what I'm missing. My failure at IVF left a huge hole in my heart and continues to cause me pain.

musicmakermomma said...

As a mother of one conceived naturally (working on #2 via DE), I completely agree - there is NO comparison. I will always have my DS, I have had a full-term pg, I have done the sick baby in the night thing, I have planned birthday parties and been yelled at for being "mean". I would love to have another, not that in any way this child would be less of a person or less important to us, but we became a family (I know, that's another hot-button topic) when DS arrived. My heart breaks for the people struggling with primary infertility - and the rest of us too; but there is an edge to the suffering when you have no other children. Just my thoughts...

B said...

I read a quote one time when reading about a tragic death. The author had written ...

"It was his only son. Not that having other children would have made the tragedy any better..... but it is somehow worse to not have any others."

I think it is a pretty similar experience.

I understand that comparing greif is a useless pursuit. But it really bugs me when I feel that others amplify what seems like their own smaller greif by comparing it to the death of my child. It lacks respect.

I guess in the scheme of things the only yardstick that you can use for greif is your own previous experiences.

I think the question of your identity as a parent is also crucial. People don't talk about that much - which is wierd when you think about it as it is a fundamental reason we go through so much pain, in order to be a parent - and as you mentioned, you achieve that identity with one child. And after that you go from parent to "parent of two" etc.

Yep - it's a big difference.

Lorraine said...

Yep. I couldn't agree more - having a child hasn't made the specifics of this secondary experience any easier, but I know that even if it doesn't work I have my daughter, and that is enough. Yes, I want the icing, but I'm perfectly happy with the just the cake. (Only I kinda really do want the icing.)

Irish Girl said...

I agree and disagree. It is true that having the opportunity to parent probably goes a long way towards healing the wounds of infertility. I will likely never have that opportunity but, as a childfree woman, I have the option to choose to stay away from all things reproductive/child focused when I need to do that. As a mom of one, two, or ten children who is longing for another ... well, she is unable to avoid those painful situations simply because as a mom she must be around other moms/children/pregnant women. There is no escape. It's a complicated issue, for sure. I have always believed it's a tragedy when a woman wants a child and can't have one ... whether it's her first or not.

Wishing good things for you, as always, Kami!

Me said...

I agree with you.

familyoftwo98 said...

I have to agree with Irish girl.

Yes the experiences are different once you cross to the other side parenting with infertiliy versus a chldless parent (as is our case) continuing to deal with infertility. However the pain for many is just as intense. You were a parent before LB to Ernest which means you suffered SECONDARY infertilty only in a different way than I do. I have had the + test but never a living baby.

I think its all perspective what affects one one way affects another differently and those differences are what make each experience regardless fo the end journey unique...

luna said...

I think the discussion here goes to show how we each bring our unique experiences to infertility -- in our outcomes and our desires and also the levels of acceptance of each. each person has their own capacity and limits and the line of what is more or less tolerable will be different for everyone.

I think you know how I feel about this. I also like the quote B shared. thanks for this post, kami.

midlife mommy said...

You are spot on.

Dora said...

Thank you SOOOOO much for this post. No wisdom from me, just gratitude.

Bee Cee said...

I genuinely mean I want 2009 to be our year. I tend to think that if someone wants something...then I want them to have it, regardless of any previous circumstances..you ache, I ache and all that. There are some people that I want to be complete and you are one of them x