Dear Is This Normal,
My husband and I experienced a miscarriage before we got pregnant with my first baby. It was incredibly heartbreaking at the time, no doubt, but we stayed optimistic. It felt like we were experiencing something so many go through, it felt like it was a part of the process. If that makes sense? Now though, we’ve been trying for over two years to get pregnant with our second. We’ve had multiple miscarriages, we’re working with our doctor, but nothing seems to be sticking. I never imagined having only one child. I feel guilty that I don’t think that’s enough…especially knowing so many people struggle to have any family at all. Is this normal? How do I grapple with the fact that I may never get pregnant again?
Trying for Number Two
Dear Trying for Number Two,
Oh mama, I am wrapping you in a virtual hug right now. Infertility is such a hard road to travel, and it sounds like you and your husband have already been through so much. The feelings you’ve described— heartbreak, optimism, and guilt—are all so totally normal on this journey. A lot of people brush off second child infertility as somehow less important or less difficult, since “you already have a child.”
I have absolutely no doubt that you are beyond grateful for your little one. I sympathize with you. But I can’t stress this enough: you have nothing to feel guilty about. It’s hard to come to terms with things not working out the way we’d hoped and planned. Processing the way your family is different than what you’ve always imagined takes time, so be gentle with yourself during this process.
I’m happy to hear that you’re working with your medical team to pinpoint the causes of secondary infertility, and I’m crossing all my crossables that you get some answers and good news so soon! In the meantime, as important as it is to deal with the medical side of things, it’s equally important to take the same care with the mental and emotional stuff you’re going through. In that vein, please consider this advice from reproductive psychologist Elana Dumont, a maternal wellness provider at Robyn, an incredible resource for parents on this journey.
ANSWER FROM EXPERT:
“My heart goes out to you for all that you’ve endured thus far. Unfortunately miscarriage, and the grief and disappointment that comes with it, is quite common and can be emotionally devastating regardless of where you are in your family planning. Please know that your feelings are valid. The sadness you feel fits your personal journey. These struggles aren’t more or less valid because of how many children you have or do not have. You identified that during your first time around miscarriage was “part of the process.” This, too, is part of your family’s journey.
It can often feel like infertility is a full time job. Daily injections, early morning doctor’s appointments, and managing the financial burden of it all. Add on the stress of navigating the needs of a small child? You’re going through a lot right now.
The reality is, we cannot control our futures. Envisioning our goals and plans can be helpful in the early stages, but when we hold on too tightly to our expectations it can leave us feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and disappointed. It can be hard to value the life you’re living when your grieving the life you never got to lead.
So what can you do?
You’re grieving right now. Which means you have to do the hardest thing in the world. Keep going. Keep feeling. It sounds like, on the physical end, you’re taking care of what you can. So, focus on the emotional and spiritual end. No need to aim too big. Take a few minutes every day to practice accepting that things might not work out. Try to notice and appreciate the small things. Get a babysitter, have a date night with your partner, spend special time with your child, book a massage. Do not be afraid to ask for extra help. Infertility support groups can provide a space to vocalize and process your feelings. Feeling empathy for others who are in your situation can be a helpful way to learn to have empathy for yourself. Remember, no one can magically heal themselves overnight. We have to start small first.”