I was blessed with an idyllic childhood in a Christian home in a small town with a wonderful family. One of the greatest blessings of time spent growing up was my brother, Kyle. I was three weeks shy of my second birthday when Kyle was born and, since he was walking at 9 months, he was part of nearly every childhood adventure in my memory. We were siblings, but best of all we were friends. Our personalities were as different as night and day, but we loved being together. We fought a lot and could argue about almost anything, but we never stayed mad at one another for more than a few minutes. He helped me be a tomboy and I helped him be kind and sensitive. We were (and still are) quite a pair.
When I visualized the family I would someday have, I always visualized a kind, caring husband and two children just close enough in age to be close friends. I hit the jackpot in the husband department (oh, yeah!) and I have an amazing little girl who keeps me on my toes and rolling on the floor in laughter. The only problem? I just want one more.
Doug and I had been married almost a year and a half when we decided we wanted a baby. A few months later we were pregnant and so excited about being parents. We fell in love with Lily the moment we found out she was on her way and feel blessed every day to have such a happy, healthy child. We also knew we wanted at least one more and, not long after Lily’s first birthday, we decided we were ready for another child whenever God felt like we needed one. We hoped we could have our children two or three years apart so they could be close in age and play together. Time passed, and we realized we were not going have children two years apart. We tried to look on the bright side; maybe our kids would be three years apart and Lily would be old enough to be a helper and understand more about having a sibling. More time has passed, and now is Lily is three and a half. We are still looking on the bright side; it looks like we won’t be paying college tuition for two kids at once.
Sometimes it makes us sad, but in ways that are a bit unexpected. I find myself very sad as I long for a family of four, but I don’t find myself sharing that with others. I feel guilty for feeling sad. Every time I begin to dwell on our secondary infertility (the term for infertility experienced by couples who already have a child), I feel like I should count my blessings and treasure the extraordinary child I have. I think of friends who are still struggling to become parents for the first time and I think of Hannah, the mother of Samuel, who pleaded with God for just one child. I find my sadness is mixed with twinges of guilt, as if I am not fully appreciating the gift I have been given with the child I am watching grow before my eyes. I find myself on the verge of grief, but do not feel I deserve the right to grieve. After all, I have one really awesome kid.
Secondary infertility is fairly common, but still not well understood by most folks. Many people just assume that if you have been able to have one child, then it makes sense that you would be able to have another. Some people assume you only had a desire for a single child. A few people make snide comments about parenting a single child, insinuating that you really don’t know what real parenting is about until you have two. Everyone seems to want to know when we are going to have another one. We’d like to know the answer to that question, too.
I managed to bury the sadness deep inside for a long time. I would tell myself how blessed we were to have Lily and that someday, when the time was right, we would blessed with #2. The defining moment when I recognized my own sadness over the situation occurred when I was reading Lily her bedtime stories and, out of nowhere, she said, “Mommy, I want a sister!” She thought about it a second and said, “Or I want a brother.” It was obvious she didn’t care which; she just wanted a sibling and I, more than anything, wanted to be able to provide her with that.
Until recently, I had once again managed to bury the sadness and the desire. We still had that desire to have a second child, but had only dabbled in fertility treatment. We decided to put our house on the market, forcing us to make the third bedroom an appealing space. Until that point, it was the storage room for all things baby. When Lily would outgrow something, it would go in that room. We had her nursery furniture, clothing, toys and everything else a couple would need to completely spoil their baby. I insisted we set the room up as a nursery to show the house so it would showcase the size of the bedroom. Somewhere inside, though, I made that decision because I could not bear the thought of moving the nursery furniture to storage. The crib and changing table and rocking chair mean so much more to me than showcasing a spacious room; to me, they represent a hope and a dream that we pray for daily. They represent just one more.