It hit me like a ton of bricks this morning. There I was lying in bed next to my 18-month-old son and tears were streaming down my face. It started with the usual feelings as I stroked his rosy cheeks, the complete and utter disbelief about how he got here. Where did this baby, this 5th member of our family come from? But then I had a flash back to a night over 7 years ago. I was shopping alone at Target while my husband was at home with our (then only) 4-year-old son. I walked by the baby section at Target and just fell apart. I remember just wanting to lay on the ground amidst all those adorable baby clothes and booties and just cry.
You see, we had one beautiful son at home, but we had been trying off and on for 3 years for another one. I had been diagnosed with unexplained secondary infertility disorder. Meaning, they had no idea why we couldn’t have another child. I always felt guilty for being so heartbroken about it. Like I knew that there were some people that couldn’t have any children and I wanted to feel sympathy for them and feel grateful for the child we were able to conceive.
But logic doesn’t really help when you are dealing with pain and hurt. All I knew is that I wanted a sibling for my son more than anything. I knew what it was like to be pregnant and give birth and hold that newborn baby in my arms and wonder if he looked like me (thankfully they get my dimples so I can at least claim that!). I knew heartache as I sat there watching my friends have 2 and 3 more kids after we all had had our first kids together. And I knew that even if we could get pregnant again that they wouldn’t be close in age like I longed for.
But yet, here I am, 7 years later and I have 3 boys. 3! How did that happen? I mean, I know how it happened. ;) With child #2, we went through fertility treatments. I took medication to get more eggs (to increase our chances they said- you already make one, let’s make more!). One month I only had 2 eggs. But they spinned and whirled and worked their magic to give us the best, most healthy “contribution” from my husband. No luck. Increase meds. Add injections. 3 eggs. 4 eggs. Nothing.
We discussed moving onto something more aggressive. I never thought we would ever consider doing IVF, but there we were going through the paperwork, discussing treatment protocols and making decisions about what we would do with any leftover embryos. But then, the nurse on my case sent me an email with the list of medications and the exact steps I would take to prepare for an IVF treatment. I looked at it. Stared at it, really. And then I heard God’s voice, clear as day. (And I never do, so I just knew). I looked at it and I said this is not for me. This isn’t for us. This isn’t the right choice for our family. And I was filled with immense, overwhelming peace. I called the nurse back (after sharing this revelation with my spouse) and said, we are going to pass. No IVF for us. I will try one more round of IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) and that is it. (It was December and our insurance was going to reset and we would have hit our maximum coverage for infertility treatments anyway).
The weird thing was, we didn’t have any back up plans. No, “if this 4th time trying IUI doesn’t work, then we will try _____________ next”. There was no “next”. But you know what? I wasn’t worried. I was actually hopeful and completely at peace. You know why? Because if God had cared enough about me to tell me that IVF wasn’t the best choice for me, than I didn’t need to worry. He had this. In fact, I remember having a motto during that time. My God is big enough. I used to get people in the alternative world saying things like, ”Oh, you aren’t getting pregnant because you’re gluten sensitive. Or you aren’t absorbing any nutrients. Or you have leaky gut syndrome. Or your ear lobe is crooked”. Okay, not that last one. But the things that they said made complete sense to me. I have fibromyalgia. IBS. Several previous surgeries. A long list of things. And any one of them could have prevented me (on some level) from getting pregnant. But I just started saying, My God is bigger than those things. I can get pregnant even if my body is sensitive to gluten or is inflamed or full of yeast or scar tissue or whatever the latest “issue” might be. I believe God is bigger and more powerful than those things. Now that I knew He was in control of this situation by telling me loud and clear not to do IVF, I had hope. So, it didn’t matter that we didn’t have a back-up plan after our last try.
Of course, we all know where this story is going. Last round of IUI before giving up (and after doing acupuncture and an exploratory laparoscopy), I got pregnant. And other than a few minor scares along the way, we had another beautiful baby boy almost 6 years after our first. We call child #2 our miracle baby!
Now people would assume that once you have another baby, you “get over” secondary infertility and that the sting and pain of it is gone. And while it has certainly lessened, it isn’t gone. At least for me. Some of the repercussions will always be there and will always make me feel loss. My kids are always going to be 6 years apart. My oldest son will have never had a sibling close in age to play with and bond with. And it may be silly to some, but as a mom who feels everything tremendously deeply, it still hurts me that he missed out. He still wishes for that, I can tell. I mean, he is grateful for his brothers (he prayed for brother #2 for almost 2 years after all!), but he is never going to connect with him or play with him as he would someone closer to his own age. And even all these years later, that still hurts and I still mourn that.
In fact, lately, I wonder if my oldest doesn’t get along better with his youngest brother that showed up completely by surprise 10 years later! Isn’t that the funny end to my story? My, “Where did you come from story?” After having 2 boys and knowing that 3 had always been my dream, but thinking that I didn’t want to go through infertility treatments again (with the anxiety and depression, taking those meds can be extra challenging), we weren’t sure we would even be able to have 3. Plus, with my fibromyalgia and other health issues, we knew I would have to be in a much better place for me to even consider being pregnant again.
And then, no idea when or how, it happened (well, obviously some idea! ;). My body certainly wasn’t in the healthy place I was hoping, and although we hadn’t ruled it out, we also hadn’t discussed it seriously because we knew that I wasn’t ready physically. But as usual, God laughs at our plans for timing and what we think our life and our family will look like! Even I have to laugh at the moment I realized I was “late”, because I was so sure there was just “no way” I could be pregnant! I mean, after all, if I couldn’t get pregnant with a doctor’s help and 4 eggs, than I certainly wouldn’t get pregnant by surprise!
I have to say, the news of baby#3 knocked me completely off my feet (I am a planner after all!) and there was a long list of things that had us concerned, but after 9 LONG months, we welcomed another beautiful baby boy into our family And yes, those of you who are wondering, I love having 3 boys. I actually cried tears of joy when we were told #3 was a boy also. It’s just what I know. But life with 3 kids? That’s a whole other story! I spend most days just trying to say afloat!
But when I am laying in my bed cuddling with this sweet, yet exasperating, 18-month-old boy, like I was this morning? You had better pinch me, because somehow, someway I am living the dream. It just came in a completely different way and TIME than I thought it would.
I am sharing my story because my goal with this blog was to be transparent and to encourage others to do the same. I feel like the world needs more windows in our brokenness. And when I was going through secondary infertility, there were people who didn’t even realize my pain or my journey. There are people who assume that if you already have one child, you can have another without problem! It’s not something they tell you when you are leaving the hospital with your first baby- that you might not be able to easily have another! (I always cringe now when I hear people planning the spacing of their children, you just never know what will happen!)
Anyway, I would love to hear your story as well. I know not all stories have the happy ending ours did and I don’t want to diminish your heartache. But rest assured, I have been there and love to offer hope that you just never know what might happen or what route you might take to parenthood. Also, while adoption wasn’t an option for us at that time (post for another day), I am also very interested in hearing those stories as well- especially foster-to-adopt and international adoption.
Lots of love to everyone in their journeys toward motherhood- I know it ain’t easy (and neither is this motherhood gig!) Feel free to send me an email through my contact page or PM through social media (in sidebar) if you have any questions or want to share some personal stories. I would love to pray for you through it all!