A few months ago, a fellow infertile shared with her co-worker that she was going through an IVF cycle. After describing the process of her injections, retrieval and transfer process, the co-worker asked, 'Why are you putting yourself through all that torture? Why can't you just be happy with the fact that you have one baby?' It was the typical thought process from someone who has never experienced infertility. Little did the co-worker know what a struggle it was for them to conceive their first child. Nor did this woman know how close the infertile woman is with her siblings, and how much she wanted her progeny to have that same opportunity. However, what bothered me the most about her comment is the fact that society can't wait for fertiles to have more kids. As soon as the placenta is delivered, everyone is asking, "so when are you going to have another one?" If the second baby is the same gender as the first, then everyone wants to know "when are you going to try for a boy (or girl)?" Yet, for a couple who manages to survive infertility, her prevailing message was "shut up and don't be greedy infertile, you're lucky to have what you have."
It's a little hard for me to appreciate the experience of secondary infertility, as I'm still dealing with primary infertility, but also as our grand master plan has always been to have an only child. Even before we encountered our issues with infertility and recurrent loss, our intention was to have one and be done. I can imagine how much more frustrating this journey must be for couples who planned to have two or more kids. Just as it is so hard to see others' children and feel reminded about what you want, it must be even more difficult when you're looking at your own. I'm sure expectations are higher going through infertility treatments, as it worked once or twice already. I wonder if your resolve is different pursing baby # 2. It must be challenging to manage all the injections and monitoring while caring for a little one, and I'm sure financial constraints have adopted an entire new meaning.
Thus, 'at least we have one...' is not a bad consolation prize (biased perspective from an only child). It also somewhat alters the dynamics when relating to infertiles who are seeking their first baby. When I was a participant on the online infertility forum, one member tried to establish a special group for those who were over 35 and childless. She expressed that she wanted to interact with others who were facing challenges due to advancing maternal age, and she also noted that she found it hard to identify with women who already had two kids and felt their hearts were breaking for baby # 3. The group was shut down by an administrator who chastised the member for "perceiving your pain to be greater than others". I didn't think that was the case, but that member left the forum to establish her own blog, as did I. While I was involved with the forum, I took note of some members who were going through IVF after a tubal ligation or vasectomy reversal to conceive baby # 4 or even # 5. I know this will sound a little judgmental, but my first thought when reading these posting was shouldn't you be interacting with your kids rather than spending so much time online? Maybe I felt a little bitter as sure enough, many of them were first time IVF winners. They were able to get pregnant as they weren't ever infertile.
A little closer to home, Husband has become close with a fellow hockey umpire who lives on the east coast. When Husband shared our infertility struggles with him, he was surprised to hear that his friend went through IVF as well. The circumstances were a little different. T had two kids in his early 20s and then had a vasectomy. He was divorced by age 35 and in his early 40s, he remarried a woman in her mid 30s. Rather than attempt a vasectomy reversal, they decided to go straight to IVF and succeeded with their first transfer. While I'm so happy that he can talk directly with someone who understands this process (although T went through testicular sperm extraction and didn't have the wank in a cup experience) I can't resist thinking -it's just not the same... Yes, they went through the stress of waiting for a fertilisation report and the post transfer uncertainty, but there was nothing wrong with their gametes. Although not guaranteed, they were much more likely to succeed.
When the other area REI visited our office recently, he discussed the topic of gender selection for patients who are opting for PGD. Initially, their policy was to not let any patients determine their potential baby's gender (unless it was necessary to avoid any inherited X-linked disorders). During his prior presentation, the RE admitted that they would occasionally allow patients who experienced multiple failures or losses to transfer the embryo of their choice. They would not accommodate a fertile couple who wanted a boy after having five girls. Three years later, they decided to revise their procedure. "We recognise that 'family balancing' is very important to some couples, and we are willing to help them" he explained. (Read: we're not too principled to turn away a paying customer) Personally, I would find it difficult to be in the waiting room of my RE's office knowing that the patient sitting across from me was going through treatments just to balance her family with an offspring of a particular gender. Some of us are groveling for crumbs, while others are going for the icing on the the cake.
Recently, a fellow blogger posted about how her day was crushed when she received a Christmas card from an old friend. If it wasn't hard enough to see pictures of her two children and their family activities, the friend revealed that she was expecting baby #3. Most pregnancy announcements are hard to endure, but when it's three or more, it just hits harder and stings a bit more. It feels like the rich are getting richer, while we're figuratively getting poorer. I experienced this first hand when checking in on Facebook. My friend Penny posted photos from her son's 6th birthday. #wantonemore, she included in her post, thus announcing that she joined Twitter and is trying to conceive. Want one more. Those words stuck with me for a while. C'mon mate, some of us are wanting just to have one.