My Facebook feed is full of babies. And pregnancy announcements. All seconds, sometimes thirds. Same goes for my blog reader. If I’m completely honest–and what is this space for if not honesty?–that’s a big reason I started pulling away last summer and have spent so much time away since. I know that many of those pregnancies did not come without loss, heartache, medical intervention, lifestyle overhauls, countless injections, and copious amounts of money. I want to be nothing-but-happy for each and every one of them, but I have to admit that envy has crept back in. And it’s not always for the same reasons. Sometimes it’s because of the perceived ease of it all; sometimes it’s the well-timed age gap between number one and number two; sometimes it’s that treatment was not prohibited by time, money, and geography; and sometimes it’s that I’m caught completely off-guard.

One of the recent pregnancy announcements that popped up on Facebook was from a woman who has two children two years apart, the youngest of which is nine years old. She’s my age, and I have no idea whether or not this pregnancy was planned, but I definitely wasn’t expecting it. You know how with some people you’re on pins and needles, just waiting for the inevitable, and when it comes, it’s not easy, but you feel that tightness in your chest loosen a little, like you’d been holding your breath for months and hadn’t even realized it? Well, when I read her cryptic announcement, the opposite happened. I forgot how to breathe, like when you take a hard fall and get the wind knocked out of you, and there’s that moment of panic, when all the muscles around your lungs seize up and you feel like you might die before your diaphragm spasms back to life and you finally gasp for air.

With each announcement, I waver between envy and gratitude so violently I end up with whiplash. I want another child–or two–but getting there involves the transatlantic shipping of frozen embryos and a FET we can’t afford right now–all of which guarantees nothing. If we could just, I don’t know, have sex around the time I ovulate, things would be so much easier. On the other hand, I’ve only just started getting stretches of more than a couple of hours of sleep at a time, and I’d kind of like to keep that going for a while. There are days I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above water with one child, and I’m left wondering how in the world I’d ever manage with two. The fact that my daughter is so wonderful–caring, smart, silly, spirited, and affectionate–is a double-edged sword. She should be enough, and she is, but having another one like her? Well, that would be twice as nice.

So we’ve started to set things in motion toward trying again. A few weeks ago, we got a letter from our former clinic, where our embryos are stored, saying that the partners are splitting up and each starting a solo practice. What would we like them to do with our embryos, and would we like a copy of our records while they’re at it? That led us to hurry up and see what our options were here. Would any of our treatment be covered by the NHS? (No.) How far would we have to travel to be treated at a clinic with decent stats? (Far.) Yesterday I made the call. We have a consultation appointment in Bristol in July. From there we can figure out the logistics of transporting our frozen future offspring across seven time zones, a process that the person in the lab I talked to guessed could take approximately six weeks. 

I don’t have an adequate vocabulary to describe the waves of anxiety I feel at the mere thought of climbing aboard the treatment roller coaster again. And this time, it doesn’t just affect Hubby and me. There’s a two-year-old girl whose life could be turned upside down for anywhere from a few months to the next eighty-or-so years while we figure out whether or not she’ll be granted a sibling. How I handle that turbulence is going to determine, in large part, how she does the same, so I’ve got to be careful. It’s not do or die, like our attempts to bring her into the world, but it feels like there’s more at stake this time. Because if things go wrong, if we end up with heartbreak instead of a heartbeat, I can’t fall apart. I still have to be her mother. I don’t know if that will make things easier or harder this time around.

18 thoughts on “Seconds

  1. I know that gut punch. And I am resolved with the Beats.

    I wish I had the words to ease this anxiety and dread of returning to the uncertainty. To soothe the pain of wanting only what is natural. Of keeping hope in check, but alive. What I know to say is I’m thinking of you and hoping that the road ahead is smooth.

  2. That second paragraph? I STILL feel that, three kids in. There’s so much gratitude in having what I do, but I fear someone else’s pregnancy announcement will never be “easy” after enduring infertility and loss. I’m really just white-knuckling it until all my peers are past their baby-bearing days, I think. And I know it’s even harder to be where you are at. I’m sorry there are so many unknown variables you have to figure out. I really pray that everything can work out perfectly for you and that, as you go through it, you feel that you can return here for support, encouragement, and understanding. Much love to you!

    • Thanks. Yes, I still need this space as much as I did during our quest to have Missy. And I’m so grateful for the readers like you who’ve stuck around!

  3. I know the feelings you’re talking about. I still get them too. I’ve been reading an awful lot lately about seconds, or planning for them, and I’d be lying is I said I hadn’t started thinking about it too. But same as you, the logistics of travel and finding a clinic to monitor me here (since my old RE was so unhelpful last time) just feel overwhelming. So u do nothing instead. Good luck with your consult!

    • Yes, so much easier to push it aside and do nothing. An international FET is a pain in the ass, huh. I hope you find someone more willing to work with you on your next attempt!

  4. Yes. I’m going through another string of announcements right now. I’ve got two, and three would possibly be way too much for our family, but the announcements still hurt. And I still feel that want. Really hoping you get the sibling you want for Missy.

    • Thank you. I’m trying to psyche myself up to be okay no matter what the outcome, but it is hard. Here’s hoping we all get to a place where those announcements don’t sting as much.

  5. Oh I feel you on this. We didn’t have the option for IVF for #2 so we went the adoption route. The stress of wondering what would happen to our older daughter if we had a failed match was so oppressive. It colored our every decision. Ultimately we have a happy ending and a sibling for her, but it really is entirely different and also so very much the same the second time around, isn’t it? Wishing you all the best and hoping for your happy ending.

    • Thank you, Beth! I’m so glad you got your happy ending! Yes, the same and different. And not just because of our daughter. There are so many new unknowns this time.

  6. I’m sorry that that letter pushed the decision. I suspect we have the same RE (also a Dr C, and also got a letter a few weeks ago as he splits from Dr T.).

    And yes, the anouncements. They still hit me like a damn ton of bricks. And it is harder on later times around. I worry about how more losses would effect my living children, in addition to worrying about how it would effect my marriage.

    • Wow, small world. It is strange the second time around, to think how something that previously only affected the two of you could now impact this child who doesn’t even fully understand what’s happening. Nevermind the dreaded conversation about how far each of you is willing to go this time. I’m so sorry for your loss and admire the strength it took to try again.

  7. ” It’s not do or die, like our attempts to bring her into the world, but it feels like there’s more at stake this time. Because if things go wrong, if we end up with heartbreak instead of a heartbeat, I can’t fall apart. I still have to be her mother. I don’t know if that will make things easier or harder this time around.”

    Somewhat different situation here, but I could have written this sentence exactly. It’s exactly this feeling of more being at stake that is giving me the pause about pursuing treatments in particular, whatever that might look like for us (not sure of that either).

    • It’s so tough. And why I envy those who don’t have to give a second thought to their family building choices. Ugh. I wish you luck figuring out your family’s next steps.

  8. I feel your post. As for pregnancy announcements, it seems like when it rains it pours! Even though announcements don’t have the do or die punch they had they still sting, sometimes very very bitterly.

    Like you, part of me feels like my daughter should be enough.She is perfect in every way and brings nothing but joy. Yet, there is that longing for another.

    • Exactly. And the thing is, only those of us who’ve experienced infertility and/or loss agonize like this over trying for another. For everyone else, it seems like a no-brainier (at least, it looks that way from the outside).

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