I remember, after my daughter was born, chatting with a friend about having another child. We both agreed we wanted more than one but, well, we’re infertile so it might not happen. More than anything, I remember saying this, “The longing for the second one is almost worst than the first. Because now I know.”
Through the years of waiting and the year of failed treatments and blood draws and too many hours to count of my feet in stirrups, I really had no idea what having a child would be like. No idea what kind of mom I would be. No clue what exhaustion really was. No reference point for the joy your entire being experiences when your child laughs.
There’s something to that ignorance is bliss thing.
But after Saffron, I knew.
And it was amazing.
There is no cure for infertility. Becoming a mother to a child of your own does not mean you are free from the impact the previous years and struggles have taken on you. And just because you became a mother easily the first time around, does not mean it will be easy for subsequent children.
As a culture, we celebrate survivors and overcomers and boot-strappers. We high-five them, raise funds in their honor, start movements to bring awareness.
But infertility patients?
Nah. We can’t seem to understand why having a child doesn’t fix everything. And by “fix everything,” they really mean, just move on.
Wasn’t that the goal? Wasn’t a child the entire point of all this? To get to the baby in your arms part?
And if you are a momma who fought infertility, longing for more children, you really don’t know what to do. How do we share our emptiness when everyone around us thinks the child in our arms cured us?
How do handle the continued journey of infertility after the first child?
For some reason, this seemed easier the first time around. At some point, after a certain number of years of marriage, people start to wonder. Some wonder to themselves and some just flat out ask, “Are you going to have children?” So it’s not hard to be open about it. “We would like children but…”
After the first child, not so much. Maybe that’s because they believe after the first one your body will figure out what to do and it’ll be easy. Which is sometimes true and sometimes not. Maybe that’s because they believe the child has cured the longing. You got the one you prayed for so you should be good. Only, that’s not how fertile families operate. I mean, no one tells a fertile momma, oh good, you’ve got the one so you’re done. The opposite actually. Most people who only have one child find themselves explaining that decision.
If you want more children and you know it will be another battle to have more, then share. Let people in and allow them to love you and pray for you and support you.
Listen, Aunt Sue is probably going to question your longing for more during Thanksgiving dinner. She’s noisy and bossy and all up in everyone’s business anyway. Your ovaries and uterus are not excluded. She’s gonna come right out and tell you she thinks you should save that IVF money for your child’s college fund or you shouldn’t consider adoption because it’s too costly and those kids are a mess anyway and she might…
CUT. HER. OFF.
No. Seriously. If someone in your life thinks they know better what you, your spouse, and God have decided to do to grow your family, cut them off.
Thank you so much for your concern, Aunt Sue, but we feel confident this is the direction God is leading us right now.
Don’t settle for allowing someone to question what you know is a God-ordained calling on your life. Just, you know, do it nicely. Kind words being honey to the soul and all.
Sometimes our families and friends are going to try and plan vacations and events and reunions and all manner of things in our lives. They won’t mean to schedule a 14-day cruise without considering where you might be in the IVF process but they will. You have to help in the planning.
If the rest of the family or friends can take the trip on these weeks, then you’ll have to be responsible for coordinating the treatments or good ole fashioned trying around those.
The good news is, you GET TO GO on all those amazing trips and places you dodged like they were contaminated with plague before. The Zoo, the Pumpkin Patch, Disney. Now you are the mom with the super cute kiddo like a regular person. You don’t want to miss out on that.
So you’ll have to plan around it. You can do that. Think of it just like you think about packing the diaper bag for a trip to the grocery store. You’ll need two extra outfits, Puffs, burp cloths for spit-up, five diapers, a bottle of formula and a bottle of water, your coupons, and wallet. You, Mom, are like an organizational ninja. You can plan the timing of the treatments because YOU ROCK.
It’s gonna be so hard. You think in the middle of the blood draws and shots and counting chocolate chips on you ovary cookies that you will NEVER forget your numbers. You will NEVER forget your beta number. Nope. NEVER.
But you will.
Because it gets replaced with pediatrician appointments and the number of times the baby has pooped that day and whether you tried green beans or peas last night. Hormone levels and chocolate chips and the last time you saw your hair stylist become distant memories. I promise.
But in the midst of your longing and emptiness for another child, don’t forget the victory you already have. Don’t forget how God transformed and refined you through the process. Don’t forget the millions of microscopic miracles you had a front row seat to in those years. Don’t forget the child you are holding is the much-prayed-for, much-adored answer to thousands and thousands of prayers.
Longing is good and even Holy if God has called you to another child, but there’s a reason He tells us to write His word on our foreheads, on the doorframe of our houses, on our walls. Because we tend to forget what He’s already done when we’re asking for the next miracle. Don’t forget.
Do Be Grateful…
And the best way to not forget is to be grateful. That’s it. There’s no secret pill or magic formula to living a grateful life rooted in Him. There’s not.
Instead, it’s the hundreds of small moments during the day when you stop to say Thank You for something and then everything and then One Thing. It the language of our Father. He lives in our praises and where He lives is absolutely where I want to be.
Be grateful for the late night feedings complete with quiet snuggles. Be grateful for sacrificing manicures for adorable baby clothes. Be grateful to be reading Good Night Moon for the fourth time in a row. Be grateful for trading date nights out for date nights in and falling asleep to Netflix together.
Being grateful transfers the focus from our longings and emptiness to Christ’s healing and fulfillment.
Having one child does not cure the longing for another every time. For some, one is enough. It took a zillion dollars and so much pain to reach this one, they are content and grateful for the one and they stop. For others, one is simply a beginning. Either way, be grateful for the journey because now you know. And it’s amazing.