Thursday, September 6, 2007

Primary vs. secondary(+) infertility.

As I was in the shower this morning, I thought, once again, what my results could be from this IUI. As I was thinking that there is no possible way it will be a bfp, I then thought "well, why ~not~ me?". Which the latter is totally Miss Hope speaking. She has a way with it you know.

Anywho, then I started thinking about how the disappointment will feel which then got me to thinking of I could compare this disappointment with the disappointments I felt when TTC#1. I'm in a particularly "lucky" place to have both felt the sting of primary and secondary infertility and to have also been on the receiving end of a "first try bfp". Lucky in not the conventional ways, but lucky in the aspect that I can call myself quite qualified to compare each type of disappointment I felt.

note: I do want to point out that this is relative to where ~I~ was in my ttc journey. I only went through 18 cycles to get #1. I acknowledge that I have no idea what it's like to go 30, 40, 60 cycles ttc#1. I can imagine the pain gets worse as time wears on and once you get there, I'm sure the two pains I will speak about are no longer the same. I do understand this. And I do feel sadness for all those heartbreaks out there.

When I was a ttc#1-er, I had little pity for the disappointment of a ttc#2-er. Even less for a ttc#3(+)-er. I just couldn't understand HOW they could even feel disappointment, when they were able to toss the BFN in the trash and then call for their little one to come and hug and cuddle the pain away. I thought it was almost rude for a ttc#2(+)-er to even admit they felt disappointment. But now that I'm in those shoes, I understand.

It's different, yes. And while I can't compare in which one feels worse, I can compare the different ways it felt bad. When TTC#1, I had that fear that I may never conceive at all. That I may be completely infertile. That was a scary proposition for sure. I think it was even the worst part of it - the fear of the unknown. On the opposite side, secondary infertility, or in my case, tertiary infertility, gives a whole different kind of fear. The fear that I will never get to feel it again. I know what I'll be missing. And even though I already have two children, which I feel so blessed to have received at all, I know in my heart my family isn't complete. I can tell you with 100% honesty that I don't long any less for #3 than I did for #1. The fears are different, but the WANT is still exactly the same. So the idea of not getting #3 for me is exactly the same as not getting #1. For ttc#2(+)-ers, hearing "well, at least you already have a child" hurts just as much as a ttc#1-er hearing "Well, at least you can have nice things instead of children". We want that child, whether it's #1 or #3, so telling us anything regarding not getting that child hurts like hell. Does this make sense?

I understand ttc#1-ers may not "get" this. I honestly don't know if I would of gotten it when I was ttc#1. I just don't think I would of been able to understand how in the world the ~pain~ of not being able to get #3 could be the same as not being able to get #1. I now see how it's just a different kind of pain. Not comparable in why each feels the way it does, but it hurts just as bad now as it did when I was still ttc#1.


Chris said...

I do hope this IUI works for you. Also, sorry to reply to your comment on my post here, but I couldn't figure out another way to do it. My protocol has me taking estrace starting 6 days after I ovulate, hence the nurse calling to remind me to start using OPKs. So, I'm still going forward, not backwards.

BethH6703 said...

As a TTC#1-er, I'll admit that I don't "get it", which comes as no surprise to you, since we've talked about this before.

I still stand by the idea that pain is pain, and comparisons *shouldn't* come into it. That certainly doesn't always work, but I think its a great thing to strive for.

btw, glad to see you post... I was getting a little worried about you!

btw2, I'm pretty sure I FINALLY o'ed this cycle! If I can do it again next cycle, I will sing the praises of Met! lol

nancy said...

Beth, I honestly don't think I would of ever been able to "get it" either back then. Sure, it makes sense to me ~now~, but just because I'm living it.

Had I'd be told "even after having kids, if you have if issues later on, you'll feel just as bad" back when ttc #1, I'd of laughed and pointed straight to their faces.

nancy said...

oh - and YAY on the O-ing. I just went to your blog and you hadn't blogged about it yet. I gotta go check out your chart!

The Town Criers said...

I think the main point is that it hurts to have your feelings dismissed regardless of where you are in your journey. The message of "it's not that bad" or as you said so well, "at least you have..." is what hurts. I don't think people need to go through another person's journey to understand that/be empathetic. Great post.

jk215 said...

pain is pain, disappointment should be universally understood. it doesn't matter why, or how much, or what you already have or don't have. if you hurt- you hurt.

although I definitely do understand the 'fear' portion of ttc #1.

Artblog said...

Excellent post!

Unfortunately, lots of primary infertiles do not understand how secondary infertility hurts simply because they never went through it. I get a lot of comments and emails from newly SIF who used to be PIF who say "NOW" they understand what I'm going through! They admit they didn't get it before.

It all depends on character. Some people are able to feel the pain of others even if they haven't the same experience, others need the lesson to be taught to themselves before they "get it". Pity, for them, but true :)

jennifercarol said...

Why is it that we in the TTC community (if you can call it that) often feel the need to compare our pain as if in some battle for who hurts the worst? Although my time TTC has been relatively short, this question has come to bother me. Each of our situtions is unique just as each of us is unique. And we should be able to accept that everyone of us is dealing with the pain of infertility on some level without needing to rank it. Ultimately that just leads to disagreement and heartache.

nancy said...

jennifer, just to reply to your comment, I am not ~trying~ to compare it. Just trying to bring up a subject that I know makes a lot of hurt feelings. In feeling both sides, I am able to compare and just trying to show both sides. But you are right, we should all be allowed to feel whatever it is we feel.

This definitely wasn't in response to anything, just commentary. And I wasn't trying to say who hurts the worst. In fact, I was trying to say it all hurts the same, just different.

Leah said...

I get what you are saying 100%. Wait, make that 120%.

I hope this IUI works for you, I'll have my fingers crossed. Thank you for stopping by to offer sticky wishes to me!

chicklet said...

Being TTC#1, I've always wondered a bit about being on #2 or 3 but not really known what to think. There's this safeness of at least knowing you can get pregnant, but like you said, knowing you can but still not means you also know what you're missing out on. I always figured it sucked either way, just honestly, maybe not as much as #1 when you have the fear of it never working? I always thought it'd hurt as much but differently?

nancy said...

chicklet ... yup. just differently. And I can't quatitatively say which one was worse (nor would i really want to). Just that in the present of each, they both suck pretty fucking bad.

In and Out of Luck said...

Thank you for this post. I came and visited it from Mel's blog and what you said in bold letters about not longing any less for #3 (in my case, it's #2) than for #1 is completely true. And yet, I clearly remember saying when ttc#1, "God, let me have a baby, just one, please, and I'll NEVER ask for anything else again." I also think when ttc#1 I felt a more public deprivation - I was someone without kids, as opposed to someone with kids and I felt that social difference very acutely. But the pain of infertile longing is the same.

Fertilize Me said...

Nicely written post - now i have lots of questions! For people who are TTC#1 but have to use reproductive assistance, regardless of reallive childrenin your household, isn't the primary issue fertility. (regardless of live children you have) I may have to write a post about this

MLO said...

I have found that the most problems occur when there is an "invasion" of specialty boards or communities where feelings that are meant for that community are being aired.

Some examples:
-- Primary Only Board thread being reprimanded by a Secondary IFer.
-- Poor Responder Board having a 30 egger talking about one failed cycle.
-- DE Board being invaded by anti-DE tirade.

The picture is not as clear on "general" boards.

Personally, I think that there is a mistaken attitude of "dismissing someone's pain" when it is really just about wanting to share your unique pain.

The same issues come up in Cancer communities, allergy communities, MS communities, etc. There are the general discussions, and then there are the specifics.



Waiting Amy said...

Thanks for this post. Sometimes I think it is a little taboo to be a SIF and talk about the pain we experience. Not that others aren't empathetic, just our concern for the reminder that we have one.

It took a little while for my #1 and I had a lot of fear there was a problem (I think there was even then, but we got "lucky"). But with TTC #2 I seem to experience a lot of sadness. Not the stark desperation of the possibility of never as with #1. But the deep sadness of maybe never again. I can relate to your comments about wanting to "feel this" again. And I am sad for the things lost to #1 child (companionship, etc.)

Anyway thanks again. Good luck with the IUI.

Kami said...

I have read and re-read this post and I just don't get it.

I understand that getting a BFN hurts no matter what, but would you trade places with me? If you wouldn't, doesn't that mean that you have decided that your reproductive situation is preferable to mine? Perhaps the pain of infertility is the same, but life in general is better with at least one child?

I keep telling myself that I will find it easier to be happy with my life if I had even one child. Perhaps I am wrong.

Does one child then become not enough? Is it just as hard to appreciate what you have now (two children) as it was to appreciate what you had when you were child free (loving husband, more peace, etc.)?

I want to point out that I don't mean to invalidate your feelings and I don't mean to offend. I'm just trying to understand. If you answer "yes" to the last question, it would be proof that we should all stop lamenting what we don't have and start enjoying what we do have. I just wish I knew how to do that.

nancy said...

Kami - that is a ~very fair~ comment. And all I can say is I am definitely not comparing who's life is better, etc. There are pros/cons to everything that is comparable, and I'm not in the position to say who's life is "better", because I honestly don't think it's possible to measure. Yes, my life is better in ways now that I have children and yes, also worse in ways now that I have children (I won't go into a list, as I'm sure anyone can guess at what all the pros/cons could be).

I am simply speaking of the "want" of another child and the "pain" of infertility feels the same no matter what # child is being tried for. I wouldn't dare try to compare everything that each situation entails.

I did want to answer your question "Does one child then become not enough? Is it just as hard to appreciate what you have now (two children) as it was to appreciate what you had when you were child free (loving husband, more peace, etc.)?" ... For me, one child was not enough. Would I be okay if that was all I was blessed with? SURE. I appreciate what I have and consider myself lucky every second of every day. But since I don't feel like my family is complete, one child is not enough. I hope that makes a little more sense out of my thoughts.

Kami said...

Nancy - Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I want two kids and sometimes think that one won't be enough for me either.

Kami said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog too!

Anonymous said...

I think it's not so much dismissing your pain, but more of not letting go of your own pain to allow for someone else's. I was surprised by my reactions to women dealing with SIF. My thoughts are I know what it feels to get that BFN every month but I don't know what it's like to have a child. Does that mean that you don't have a right to feel terrible, no. It means I'm not a big enough person to embrace your pain while I'm wallowing in my own self pity.

Mrs. D. said...

I respect your thoughts... but after ttc#1 for four years unsucessfully... I have to disagree.

You seem to think that ttc#1-ers don't really know what we are missing... and believe me... I am painfully aware daily of all the things I am missing.

It is sort of like the old saying " it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all..."

You have 2 children and you have every right to want another... but I have none... and may very well never have even one... that seems much more bleak to me... much more unfair... much harder to come to terms with. There are a million things that you have already done with your kids that I may never get to do or experience... and so many more futute memories... school plays, sports events, graduations, weddings.. grandchildren... If I don't get my #1 I will not get any of those chances... chances that you already have.

I wish you the best.
Good luck with your iui... and when you tuck your kids in bed tonight... know that I don't have that privaledge... and that is the reality of primary infertilty.

nancy said...

Mrs D. - I did try to explain I was only talking about what I could talk about - that of how I could feel after ~only~ 18 months. I tried to make it clear that I'm sure my feelings could very well change if my journey went further than it did. I was very specific.

I also tried to explain that I wasn't comparing quality of life with and without children. Responses like yours seem to suggest I did such a thing, but honestly, I didn't.

Good luck to you too.

MrsSpock said...

This post makes me think. I, too, could be considered very lucky in our community since my little Peanut only took 20 months to conceive. But my husband and I have always wanted a large family. Before I found out I was pregnant, I thought that if I could have one biological child I would be happy. Now I know I was lying to myself.

Ann said...

Y'know, I read this post a while back, but I feel the need to comment after reading it on Creme de la Creme again. I think I understand where you're coming from. In some ways, it's like a primary IF-er who's married talking to a woman who desperately wants children, but is not yet married and feels she is two steps away from having children. The single woman might feel like the married woman could never understand her pain. But they both have unique situations, and it's tough for both of them in different ways. Just because you already have a child doesn't mean it doesn't hurt that you can't get to the "next step."

Anonymous said...

I also caught this one via CDLC, so I'm just commenting now. Your post touches such a chord for me.

I question whether I really fit in to this sector of the blogosphere, given the fact that I already have a wonderful (non-bio) child. Add the fact that I’m not traditionally infertile… more non-fertile. (I’m gay, which means that whenever I’m not actively doing ovulation induction, u/s monitoring, and DIUI, I’m non-fertile.)

I wonder if straight IFers grow weary of us gay moms (and momwannabes) including ourselves in the conversation. How can we understand the anguish of having to give up the dream (The one where everything works out naturally through BMS)? How dare I complain about non-fertility when others enduring cycle after crushing cycle?

I worry that my desire for another kiddo comes across as ungratefullness for the one I already have. But then discussions like these remind me that there IS a common thread, one which we all hold, including little old me:

We all know what it's like to have an empty spot at the table (to borrow a concept from SQ&SPJ). And even if that spot doesn't represent a heretofore-missing first child, it's empty nonetheless.

In this thoughtful post, you've bravely tackled a touchy subject. You've been brave enough to share your own experience with primary AND secondary IF and to write:

"I can tell you with 100% honesty that I don't long any less for #3 than I did for #1. The fears are different, but the WANT is still exactly the same."

Wow. I feel that WANT for our second child. I’m so sad that they haven’t already arrived. That sadness doesn’t take away from loving and appreciating my daughter. It just doesn’t go away on account of her either.

As I read through the comments, I was especially struck by Mrs. D's comment:

"I wish you the best.
Good luck with your iui... and when you tuck your kids in bed tonight... know that I don't have that privaledge... and that is the reality of primary infertilty."

You responded so matter-of-factly to her, acknowledging that it is hard to understand SIF when you're in the throes of PIF. (I know that my own hackles would have gone up. How dare she suggest that your 18 months of PIF were inconsequential? How dare she ask you to think about ANYone or ANYthing outside of your family when you're tucking in your kids?)

The discussion that this post generated is really meaningful, and a great reminder that comparing relative pain is not only divisive... it's futile. Just as we all feel our own pain, we all struggle with our own questions of worthiness.

And sometimes we work through our own struggles by suggesting that others are less worthy of support and understanding. I call crap on that.

Kathy V said...

Hi Nancy,
I came via creme. I guess I never really thought about this situation before. It does make sense though. Even though you have children, there is still something just out of your reach that you just can't get to. It could apply to other things too including material things. Everybody has times in their life when they are reaching for something but just can't grasp it. It is a more difficult pain when talking about children as opposed to material things though. Thanks for the post. It really makes me think about IF in general. It just really is an unfair journey that affects us for the rest of our lives and in so many different ways.

Anonymous said...

I also came here via the Creme posts.

Thank you for this post. We've been trying to get me pregnant with our second child for nearly 2 years now. I walk a strange line between primary and secondary infertility because I'm a lesbian and my partner carried our first child. So I have a child at home -- a child that I was there for the birth of, and yet I've never managed to get pregnant myself. I long to get pregnant, but worry about insulting my other infertile friends with my grief... after all, I have a child and they still have none.

Thank you for putting into words what I've been struggling to express.

Jen said...

Wanting a child hurts, no matter what else you have. I can see that secondary infertility is incredibly painful.