Trigger Warning – This post discusses topics such as secondary infertility, miscarriage, foster care, adoption, and trauma. If you choose to read this post and something is hurtful to you due to a lack of awareness on my part, please feel free to private message me. I want to learn and know how I can better care for my friends, family, and those I don’t know.
Things Not to Say When Someone is Dealing with Secondary Infertility
The other day, I was at the zoo with my son—we were walking around, minding our own business, pointing to the rhinos and counting the zebras.
This lady stopped me, pointed to Lincoln, and said, “Is he your only one?”
I stopped in my tracks. The comment took me aback and stung enough to contort my face into a twisted wince. I snapped out of it, unraveled the wrinkles from my squinted eyes and unpursed my lips into a fake, thin smile.
“Yes, ma’am.” I said. “He is.”
My heart sunk and my mind began to drift…
“Well, I bet he’s enough!”
Wow. Did she really just say that to me.
“Yes. He is enough.”
But not in the negative way that this lady was referring to. Sure, Linc has tough moments like any kid, and adult for that matter—but he was literally in my arms, smiling, pointing at the animals and this lady felt the need to insinuate that he was a handful and therefore enough for me to handle.
Being a mom is simultaneously the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done. The amount of grit and patience and resilience it takes to give so fully of yourself day in and day out, to love someone so much that you can’t even describe it, to feel the heavy emotional weight that even though I am trying as hard as I possibly can, I often do not feel like enough.
How dare she. Sure, this lady probably had good intentions, but good intentions do not make unaware, hurtful comments okay.
If only she knew…
Our Story with Secondary Infertility
Well over a year ago, my husband and I started trying for a second baby. I got pregnant easily with Lincoln as well as with the baby I was pregnant with and miscarried before him. I innocently thought, we’ll try, I’ll conceive this month, and we will have a little sibling for Linc in approximately 9 months.
And here I am, over 12 months in–I honestly lost count–dreading another negative test. I know that this amount of time is short to some and long to others. I hesitate to write any of this because I do have a child earth side and we haven’t been trying as long as many, but a friend recently taught me that our pain is valid and our stories are worth telling even if they are not the same as someone else’s.
Even Our Best Intentions May Cause Harm
I’ve remained fairly quiet about our struggle, only recently revealing bits and pieces of our story here and there. I hesitate to even share this post because it still feels so raw. But, I have decided to share for two reasons: one, to bring awareness to the fact that our best intentions can cause others pain and two, to help those of you who may too be dealing with secondary infertility not feel so alone.
Oh, how I wish I could have said just that to that nosy lady at the zoo. Can you imagine her reaction? Is it bad that I’m smirking a little, thinking about it as I type? Yeah, it probably is.
I know without a doubt that I have made well-meaning comments with the best intentions that have caused harm. I wish that I knew every instance and could go back and apologize, but we cannot know every trigger and pain point of those around us. But, we can learn to develop empathy and to pause before making a comment and to say sorry when we are wrong. We don’t know most people’s stories, so it is always best to be kind.
While I long and pray that the Lord will grow our family in His timing—I know that Lincoln is more than enough. Even if we do not have any more children, what an incredible, precious gift that he is. How blessed am I to be chosen as his mother. And if we do, that child or those children will be loved just as deeply, just as fully as he is.
Where We Go From Here
I am meeting with a doctor soon, and the news that we hear will determine where we go from here. Carson and I have always planned on becoming foster parents, but with the intention of supporting parents with reunification as the primary goal. We also plan to adopt a child or children where reunification is not possible.
As I listen to the stories of adoptees, both friends and people I do not know—I hear story after story of trauma and pain and resilience and a longing to be heard. Adoption is trauma and I am praying that the Lord will humble me and give me open ears and a teachable spirit if this is the plan that he has for our family. Adoption will absolutely not be a second choice for us. The timing that we choose to pursue it will just be different whether or not I am able to conceive again
How to Support Someone in the Midst of Secondary Infertility
Maybe instead of asking questions such as: Is he your only one?, making comments such as I bet he’s enough!, blaming a mother for her inability to conceive, or making comments as to what a family should do moving forward—maybe, we should support parents with words such as: I can see how much you love your child, parenting is hard—but you are doing a great job. Can I get the door for you? How can I be praying for you? I am so sorry that you are going through this; I am here in any way that you need.
And if you are currently in the trenches—I see you. I can never fully understand what you are feeling or what you are facing, but you are enough. You are enough regardless of how many children you have or if your body is functioning the way that you want and long and need it to. You are enough and you are loved and I am so incredibly sorry for your pain caused by secondary infertility.
We may never know how to fully support someone who is struggling—we weren’t made to be everything for everybody or even for one person—but we can use intuition and kindness and pause before offering our commentary.