I have had this post in “draft” form since May 2017. I posted the quote above to my Instagram on April 22, 2016 as a place holder because that was when I knew I needed to make a change to my mindset…to let go of the thought of having another child. More importantly, finally trying to cope with the depression that loomed over me for the past few years. And now I’m sitting here with 14 month old identical twins.
It’s funny how life just throws surprises at you. When I was “ready” to have a second child, I couldn’t. But when I was finally at peace with it, I found out I was pregnant with twins.
I’ve shared my secondary infertility on this blog from the miscarriages, to staying hopeful after the failed IVF attempts, and to learning that it’s okay not to fit in, especially with the people around me. I never really promoted those posts on my other social media channels. These posts were just my online journals. If someone found them and got value from them, then great. If not, that was okay too.
When Life Gave Me Lemons
It’s been over 5 years ago that I had my second miscarriage and instead of mourning the loss, I wanted to go out and do stuff to keep my mind off of it (or not deal with it). I posted about my miscarriages here. To be honest, the images from that post are some of my favorites. I find that somewhat ironic. Little did I know at the time that my mental health would change from that point on. How I thought I was strong enough to never have to deal with depression. But what I didn’t do was mourn my losses, which began to take a toll on my mental health.
After the miscarriages, we were advised to try IVF. We tried 2 rounds that did not work. I was devastated and felt like a failure wondering why my body was not doing what I was telling it to do. Everyone tells you miscarriages are common but they never tell you the amount of heartache and mourning that may come from it. Or the toll it takes on you physically and mentally. Or the fact that you’re expected to go back to work as if nothing happened (because you are no longer pregnant).
My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after and I just felt everything was out of control.
I remember many days of not wanting to get out of bed and some crying in my car before going into the office because I couldn’t shake this sadness off of me. I was starting to feel really tired all the tine because trying to appear happy and “normal” took so much energy. It felt that everywhere I went or whatever I did there was a dark cloud following me. It wouldn’t leave no matter how hard I tried to make myself “happy”.
It got bad to the point where Charlie told me he didn’t know how to help me because everything he said or did did not help or make me feel better.
When Comparison Kills All Joy
I started Instagram and blogging as creative outlets to share my hobby. Along the way, I met other moms with children the same age as Luke. It was fun to follow their stories and lives. It was also exciting to see most of them having more children. I didn’t want a second child because everyone else was. I’ve always wanted more than one child. And I’m sure those ladies did too. But when I was seeing these women announce their pregnancies and I was going through my miscarriages and IVF treatments, I started to feel like I was the only one that was struggling with having another child.
Suddenly, I realized that social media wasn’t a fun place anymore. What used to be a fun escape is now making me feel like my life isn’t as great as I thought it was. I deactivated my personal Facebook account because I couldn’t handle seeing all the pregnancy announcements (damn Facebook algorithm) or seeing posts of happy families. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked all those friends, but I wasn’t happy with myself and seeing those images made me even unhappier with myself.
I started to compare my lives to these people (some even strangers) which made me feel worse about myself and my situation. It got so bad that I began hating myself because I didn’t have what I saw everyone having. I felt less of a mom, that I couldn’t keep up because everyone else was moving on with their lives except me. I also became more self conscious it seemed like I wasn’t pleasant to be around.
When Loneliness and Isolation Set In
I was a part of a new moms group with 7 other moms shortly after Luke was born. All 7 of them were pregnant with their second babies within 2 years of having their first. I was the only one in the group that had one child. I left that moms group because I felt like I could no longer relate and that being around those women made me feel even worse about myself. I wanted what they had. I wanted to talk about the struggles as a mom of two. I wanted to have two kids a few years apart.
When I was going through IVF, I also joined a yoga for fertility class. I was in the class with 5 other women who were going through some form of infertility. We talked about it and cried about it during the yoga class. I always felt heavy leaving the class from listening to everyone’s struggles. Within a year or so, all 5 women got pregnant and I was so happy for them. But I was the only one in that group that wasn’t able to get pregnant.
I also had a close friend that was going through something similar to me…secondary infertility. She would message me, call me to talk, or we would meet for lunch to just talk about what we were going through. She ended up getting pregnant with twins and told me when she was 15 weeks pregnant. I was very happy for her but was still unhappy with my situation. What made me feel even worse about myself was that when she told me she was pregnant, she was rightfully very happy, but acted as if she was “cured” of the disease or stigma. I didn’t feel any empathy from her. I remember during the lunch when she told me, her tone and body language made it seem like suddenly she wasn’t the one with the problem anymore, I was. Needless to say, I ended the friendship.
If I could tell you what the feeling of loneliness looked like for me, it would be going through those instances.
When Happiness Isn’t the Answer – Acknowledgement Is
I confided with some friends and family on the miscarriages and failed IVF procedures, and most of the responses were that I should be happy that I already have a child. What some of them didn’t understand was that Charlie and I wanted to have a second child for Luke, my only child at the time. It wasn’t just for me. I felt like it was hard to get people to understand this. Maybe I wasn’t communicating this correctly or maybe they just didn’t understand.
What I’ve learned through all this is that people want you to be happy, even when you tell them you’re sad. People like to point out the positives. For example, some people would tell me that I got my health, my house, and job. I should be happy I have those things. But I wanted them to know or acknowledge that a certain event in life made me sad. I didn’t need help or ways to fix the situation. Acknowledgement was all I was seeking.
That’s when I knew I needed some counseling and therapy. I was carrying these very sad thoughts with me and they would make every situation I was in worse. No one seemed to understand what I was going through our trying to say.
When You’re Not Ready for Adoption
When I told friends that we have been trying to have another child for awhile, one of the things they would ask is if we have considered adoption or an egg donor. At the time, I wanted to punch anybody in the face that asked me that…because they made it sound so easy. The truth of the matter is, adoption takes a lot of time and you’re taking a chance on an egg donor. There are no guarantees with either of those. I knew what my heart wanted. And I knew I wasn’t ready to adopt or get an egg donor. What I wanted was for people to stop telling me that adoption would be the answer to all my problems.
When People Just Don’t Understand or Listen
Throughout this whole process, I’ve learned not to be mad at people or their reactions to how I felt during this time. As a good friend told me, “if they haven’t been through it, they won’t fully understand it.”
I would get upset when people would say, “you should be lucky because you already have a child.” But I kept that mantra that my friend told me and it did helped me with those types of conversations.
I was part of a focus group where we had to introduce ourselves. At one point, the moderator asked me how far along I was in my pregnancy with the twins. I told her and then proceeded to say that they were miracle babies after years of trying to conceive. Another participant (mom) who sat next time, interrupted me, and said “no one needs to hear about that. The point is you’re pregnant.” I was hurt and mad because she cut me off and that I wanted others in the room to know how hard it was to get pregnant and that not journey to pregnancy is as easy as people think.
But again, I gave her some grace since she didn’t fully understand.
When Therapy Helped Me
I started seeing a therapist as a way to sort out all these feelings. She specialized in patients who were going through or been through IVF so she knew about all the process, including the medications.
I went to her for about two years. Looking back, I wish I would’ve done it earlier, maybe after I had the miscarriages. She helped me sort out my feelings and learn to accept the situation I was in. But more importantly, she helped me to stay present.
My “aha” moment came when I was taking a cab to the therapist. While in the cab, I turned and saw a life-size cut-out of Pope Francis in front a Catholic book store. After my session, I walked to the book store and asked if they had books on infertility. The nun at the bookstore showed me this book titled ” Facing Infertility: A Catholic Approach“. I read the book and cried but also felt this sense of relief. That I wasn’t the only one feeling and thinking this way. I started praying every day after that. I had conversations with God asking him to guide me out of this dark cloud and to give me grace to accept His will.
I told my therapist about the book and she said she noticed a change in me. I can honestly say that was ready to move on after my therapy and reading the book. I accepted that we couldn’t have another child. I had this new sense of purpose. And I had this huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I no longer had this stigma of not being able to have another child. I was finally happy as a family of three and even shared a blog post about how awesome it was to have an only child! This didn’t happen overnight. It took months to finally get there.
Of course, I had a little bit of hope for a miracle to happen but I was fine if it didn’t.
When I Least Expected It
If you have read my blog, you will know what happened.
I don’t want to sound like a cliche but I guess it’s true what they say, when you are ready to let go and move on is when it happens. To be honest, I hated hearing that while I was going through my struggle because I wasn’t ready to let go. Even when I tried to let go, it didn’t sound right. It took a long time to be at peace with myself.
I never thought this would be my story. I never thought I would end this draft blog post this way…to say we have identical twin boys after years of struggling to conceive.
But when I finally moved on from the heartache of the miscarriages and failed IVF treatments, greater things did happen. I just needed a lot of help to get here. In the process, I’ve learned a lot about myself. That I’m resilient, yet vulnerable. That it’s okay to cry and be sad and set boundaries with others around me. And today, I can finally say I’m truly happy when someone asks how I’m doing.
If you’re going through infertility, I hope you keep the hope alive. I hope you find someone to talk to, and I hope you find peace in whatever happens because I truly believe something great will happen.
If you know someone who is going through infertility, please be kind and just listen and be there for them. You won’t realize it but just checking in and saying “hi” would probably make a huge difference on how they feel that day and help them move on during their journey.