What I want you to know about secondary infertility

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Carly.

My husband and I -- after nearly a year of trying -- conceived a beautiful, healthy daughter, who has born after an extremely difficult pregnancy.

Shortly before our marriage, I was diagnosed with endometriosis. We celebrated the gift of being able to get pregnant and carry a child to term. If I could do it once, it seemed as though there would be no problem doing it again, though we decided not to wait too long before trying to conceive another child.

I want you to know that secondary infertility comes with a unique pain that others don't quite get. Because I've been blessed with one healthy child, I should be content. There are many women who cannot conceive and carry one biological term, so I have no right to be sad when it doesn't happen the second time around.

I want you to know that once I had one child, I became part of the Mom World. I filled my days with playgroups, story times and outings with fellow moms and their children. It wasn't long before I was surrounded by moms who were celebrating growing families with the pregnancies and births of their second and third children. I fought back tears in favor of smiles as friends would announce their pregnancies after one month of trying, despite the fact that I had taken another negative pregnancy test that morning, just as I had for the past fourteen months. I threw myself into purchasing the perfect baby gifts for my friends' little ones, creating meal trains for them when their babies were born and providing them with reprieve by baby-sitting their oldest children in the hopes that all of this would somehow fulfill me.

I want you to know that because I had a child and was surrounded by fellow moms, I had also entered the world of mom-petition. As twisted as it sounds, there were some other moms who seemed to relish the fact that I was struggling with secondary infertility. They spoke condescendingly to me and enjoyed discussing pregnancy, due dates and the beauty of siblings, despite the fact that it left me sitting quietly in the room with nothing to offer.

I want you to know how much it meant to me when other moms showed sensitivity to our situation, and didn't spend their time with me asking if I thought it would inconvenience them less to deliver a baby in the spring or in the fall or complaining about morning sickness or a baby who wouldn't sleep. When they instead spent their time with me making me laugh over shared experiences and quietly reassured me that I was in their prayers, it helped ease the pain a little.

I want you to know that the ache of secondary infertility wasn't just an ache for myself, but an ache for my firstborn. I watched my little girl kiss and cuddle the newest siblings of her friends and felt broken inside. I listened to her nightly prayers for a younger sibling while silently sobbing. I hid my pain from her and went along with the idea of her pretend siblings, trying to allow her to fill the void with her imagination.

I want you to know that because I had one child, everyone assumed I could have another and playfully dropped hints to me about "getting busy." Well-meaning people would say of my daughter, "Look at her with that baby! Maybe it's time for her to have her own little sister?" Random moms at the library would make small talk with, "Are you going to have more?"

I want you to know that because I had one child but could not conceive another, people assumed there was simply something I wasn't doing right and offered their sage advice in plenty. Go Paleo. Try acupuncture. Was I sure I knew when I was ovulating? See a chiropractor. Take Clomid. Did I even understand ovulation?

I want you to know that when we decided to adopt after battling infertility, many people assumed we were settling. They would say things to me like, "Now you'll get pregnant," or "Maybe you will still have one of your own down the road." Instead of being excited about our new journey, many treated our new dream as a consolation dream.

I want you to know that my story has a happy ending. The son of my heart is home with us. My daughter has a flesh and blood sibling whom she adores and dotes on. I'm surrounded by a largely new circle of friends -- fellow adoptive moms who celebrate both of my children as gifts and can spend a play date discussing things other than which child looks like which parent and the importance of breast-feeding.

I want you to know that my son is not a consolation prize, but a beautiful, longed-for gift to his father, mother and big sister.

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