Saturday 3 November 2012

So where *do* babies come from ?

kerala holiday to help fertility
A holiday might help ?
I've learned a lot of new terminology since becoming a parent. My least favourite right now is secondary infertility which sounds rotten however you look at it. I do, of course, appreciate that having my beloved son is a wonderful gift and am very grateful that we have him in our lives. I guess I just hoped that when we tried to have another baby it wouldn't be quite as fraught as the first time, nor take as long. So imagine how much fun it is to find out that we aren't in the subset that fall pregnant again really easily the second time. Instead we're finding it's startlingly similar to how it was the first time. This time with added guilt as craving another baby makes me feel I'm devaluing my son in some way. I also realise that it's nothing like it was when we genuinely believed that we wouldn't be able to have a child at all. For anyone who is in that situation what I'm struggling with right now must seem a bit 'princessy.'

In the first instance we were able to dodge enquiries about babymaking with the usual 'we want to spend some time just the two of us before we start a family.' or 'I'm concentrating on my career right now.' After a few years had passed though I was reduced to a terse 'we can't have children' in response to any polite enquiry from a stranger who didn't really need to know the details of my life.

The enquiries from family were more difficult. Telling my own Mother that it wasn't about not having enough money for IVF, we'd genuinely prefer to adopt was a repetitive conversation that only really ended when we did in fact find out we were expecting a baby. Whether this can be attributed to a miracle or tenacity I still don't know.

Of course now the questions are, 'will you have any more ?' or 'when do you think you'll have another baby ?' Both of which cause a ripple of panic as I haven't yet worked out a response that isn't tinged with bitterness or tears. Telling people that you're trying and it's making you feel like a failure doesn't seem to be enough to head off an awkward personal conversation.

Then there are the stupid things people say when they find out it's not happening for you.

"My pregnancy was a mistake." In all the years I've been married (and the ones before) I didn't make a mistake that resulted in a baby - this one baffles me. How exactly do you fall pregnant by mistake ? I used to know a woman who would fall pregnant when she suspected her relationship was skittering into the buffers and I'm sure she used this line on the boyfriends/husbands concerned.

"We fell pregnant on our honeymoon. It's funny really as we were hoping to go back for our first anniversary, but of course we'll have to get a passport for the baby now." How unbearably smug are the newlyweds who score the honeymoon baby ? I cannot stand this one, it's up there with always winning the best raffle prize or getting a strike every time they go bowling.

"Have you tried acupunture / shamanistic healing / traditional chinese medicine /  Zita West / co-enzyme Q10 / agnus castus my friend swears it worked for her." I've tried everything - yes even the stupid stuff - and if you suggest another crazy ass idea I'll probably try that too. I'm desperate for something, anything to work. According to one holistic therapist it's about me being honest about wanting another child. Of course I'd never considered that what I think is pain, anguish and desperate sadness might just be indifference and indecision about having a baby. Silly me.

"Oh we just fell pregnant as soon as we started trying. We didn't think it would happen that fast." So why did you start trying then ? This is the person who tells you how easy it was for them to get pregnant every time they tried and is a special from of torture that makes me wonder if they also go up to people who are selling the Big Issue to boast about how big their house is and that they're considering a second property.

Closely followed by the couple who decide to have another child and lo and behold a month later she's pregnant and tells you that she's never had any problems falling pregnant and proceeds to tell you exactly how she does it. For me this is like the person who complains that they just have to eat or the weight just falls off them. If I don't walk away at this point there is a risk that prolonged contact could result in a serious assault.

I have no idea what it was that tipped the balance for us last time - maybe it was the fact that we were in the adoption process, maybe it was one of the holistic therapies we tried, maybe it was the three holidays in a row that we took, maybe it was the champagne that we decided it was ok to drink at New Year. Or maybe it was just the right time for us.
Marty McFly and Doc from Back to the future

Whatever it was I suspect it's going to be like Back to the Future and however much we try and repeat it something will be different. The main difference - of course - is that we have our wonderful son already.

That's a pretty great point to start from.


  1. What a lovely, honest post. It's amazing how socially acceptable it is to quiz people about very personal issues such as having children. I'm sure most people don't mean any harm but some have an unnatural antenna to aim a question at the most sensitive area of your life. I reckon you've got it right - enjoy your family, take the holidays and drink the champagne. And to quote one of my favourite films - "Never give up, never surrender!"

  2. Thanks Sarah,

    Being personable means not letting on that the questions are hurtful. Everyone has things that they'd rather not talk about or be asked about. The mistake I make is pretending that it is ok and I'm fine about it. We are so fortunate to have one lovely child that I don't want to be ungrateful.

    That's good advice from a great film :o)

  3. I could have written this blog myself....word for word......I compleletely understand your position - unfortunately!

    But yes, like you, we're struggling again second time round (3rd actually as we had a miscarriage last year).

    I too have tried all the crazy ideas! It is funny what we do, and I do feel that I should be focusing my time on enjoying my Daughter instead!

    Take care.

  4. Hi Kay,

    Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog.

    I am sorry you're going through the same thing. It is demoralising, but as we both know we are so lucky to have our beloved children already.

    I hope things work out for all of us who are trying and feeling low about it. Some days are just a bit too difficult though aren't they ?


  5. I find it incredible how insensitive people can be around this area and how utterly nosey too. We had similar insensitive comments when we were trying for our first baby and suffered 3 consecutive miscarriages. My favourite was "At least you can get pregnant".

    All the things you've listed I've had said to me or friends have had said and it's just baffling.

    Good Luck though and you're right it is less stressful when you already have a child

  6. I hear took us 18mths to get pg the first time, 9mths the second doesn't sound like that long, but it really is when you're in it. Being 9mths (i.e. the length of a pgcy) was particularly cruel. I was literally just about to start treatment for PCOS when I finally found out I was pg. And yes, we had a lot of questions about when we'd be having another one. I just kinda waved my hands and said "it's a complicated timing thing". Which, in a way, was true...
    Hope it happens for you soon

  7. Thank you for the supportive comments.

    It is amazing how public our fertility becomes isn't it ? I would no more ask someone about their ability to have a child than I would about their sex life. It is intensely personal and yet we have to almost prepare ourselves for the awkward questions.

    I actually had two friends who just stopped talking to me when they had their second children as though we could no longer associate with each other as we didn't have that in common. Very hurtful.

  8. Thank you for being so honest, I recognise all those 'stupid things people say'. We had different problems with trying for number two. I'm lucky enough to have my second child now, but having been through 4 miscarriages to get here I could never casually ask anyone about their reproductive plans. You just have no idea what they may or may not be going through.

  9. I'm so sorry to hear you had so much heartache before you had baby two.

    I know not to assume that anyone else has had an easy time having their family. I haven't walked in their footsteps so I don't know how they feel.

    When you are going through the process it can be all you think about, but I'm still mindful of others. It's been so reassuring to hear that I'm not alone in finding people's comments a bit much.