NIAW: Don’t Ignore People Who Already Have a Child

by Kathy on April 26, 2012 · 14 comments

in ALI Community, Coping, Infertility, Journey, Loss, NIAW, Secondary Infertility, Siblings, TTC

It’s Day 5 of National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW). It took me awhile to figure out how I wanted to “fill in the blank” in effort to support and participate in Resolve’s NIAW Bloggers Unite Challenge. The theme this year, as you may already know, is:  “Don’t ignore…”

Though I appreciate the intention behind this theme, I wasn’t feeling motivated earlier this week and was having trouble finding the inspiration to write something I thought was worthy to share.

Mel’s thoughts in her post Every Week is Infertility Awareness Week resonate with me, as I believe that I do a pretty good job spreading the word and trying to raise awareness about the struggles and realities associated with infertility and loss in my day-to-day life, especially through my blog here, my Facebook page and my involvement with Exhale Literary Magazine.

Then I read Lisa’s post Don’t Ignore the Life without Baby Option, that Pamela called my attention to.

I love Lisa’s take on “Don’t Ignore…” as it relates to those who ultimately decide to live childfree after journeying through infertility and/or loss. She talks about how the “choice” that many make to live without their own children is often overlooked and people who take this road less traveled need love, care and attention too. Those living childfree after dealing with infertility also appreciate being a part of a community that accepts them for who they are and respect the tough decisions they have made a long the way.

Reading Lisa’s post led me to realize that I could write my NIAW post from the angle of someone who has also not had the most “typical” infertility experience (not that anyone’s experience can or should classified as typical).

As someone who struggled through secondary infertility and loss for over five years, I felt extremely grateful for my living child (our now eight year old son) during that time. However, I also had a hard time, feeling like some people in our life didn’t respect or appreciate our “wanting more” and insinuated or even outright said that we should just be thankful for what we already had. I strongly believe that we had the right to feel such disappointment and sadness when being able to have another child wasn’t going as we hoped, wished, prayed and planned that it could or would. I know first hand that it is possible to feel very blessed for what you have in your life (such as a living child) and still feel sadness and yearn for what you want so much and have not been able to bring into your life (including more living children) at the same time.

As I shared in my post Busting a Myth About Secondary Infertility during NIAW last year, secondary infertility is real and for many it is as difficult and painful to experience as those who are diagnosed with primary infertility. I am not trying to make this into the “Pain Olympics”. However, I do think that we secondary infertiles also deserve to be given love, care and attention when we are trying to build and expand our families, as well as feel the support of a community that gets what we are going through and wants to walk with us on our journeys trying to expand our families.

Secondary infertility brings its own set of unique challenges to women and couples who want to have more children after bringing home at least one healthy living child. It is these unique challenges that I think are often misunderstood and thus lead to many of us being, or at least feeling, ignored.

We love and adore the child(ren) we are caring for and raising, but that doesn’t take away from our yearning to have another son or daughter and give our living child(ren) one or more siblings.

How we cope with secondary infertility is as unique as each of us are, like those dealing with any type of infertility. However, we all appreciate knowing that others care and will be there for us if and when we feel comfortable sharing about our journeys trying to build and/or expand our families.

During this National Infertility Awareness Week I encourage you to think about the people in your life who are facing secondary infertility (either openly or privately) and consider how you can show them you care and respect their wishes to try to have more children. If these people have talked with you about their struggles trying to expand their families, you might choose to do this more directly and if not, you may want to be more subtle.

Infertility is a very lonely place to be, but living through it can be more bearable when we don’t feel ignored, whether we are dealing with primary infertility, secondary infertility, living childfree or any of the many other “categories” that infertiles may find themselves in while trying to build or expand our families.

A huge thank you to Resolve: The National Infertility Association and all of you that work to help raise awareness and keep the conversation going about infertility! It certainly makes it harder for people to ignore.

If you want to find out more about infertility and/or learn more about National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), please check out these links:

 

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Marianne April 26, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Interesting & well-written essay. Even though I have three healthy children, I still feel like we’re missing a few more wee ones we planned to have had not medical issues intervened. It’s not something I’m comfortable grieving about publicly, given other women’s struggles to have just one child, but it’s still there. I don’t blame infertile couples for wanting to slap me upside the head, but resigning yourself to the family you have versus the one you planned can be tricky. My husband got there first (“we’re good”), but I’m still working on it.

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2 Jjiraffe April 26, 2012 at 4:09 pm

This is an important point, Kathy, and thank you for writing it. Secondary infertility is devastating too. I remember reading Serenity Now the other day, and she said something that struck me pretty powerfully:

“And I’m seeing in practice what I’ve always thought: that secondary infertility is a very different kind of hell.”

Here’s the post, called “Left Behind”: http://serenitynowinfertile.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/left-behind/

I struggle with the fact that we’d like another child, but I don’t feel comfortable writing about it much because I feel so guilty about it, since we have two wonderful children already.
Jjiraffe recently posted..Don’t Ignore: The Secret Life of the American InfertileMy Profile

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3 Jennifer April 26, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Hi from ICLW! Great post today. As someone struggling with my first I tend to gravitate more toward women who are also struggling with their first. With that said, I agree that your pain and frustration is not lesser than mine just because you already have a child. Best wishes to you and your family!
Jennifer recently posted..Day 11My Profile

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4 Justine April 26, 2012 at 9:13 pm

So glad you wrote this, Kathy. If I had a dime for every person who said “well, at least you have I.” (my first child), I would be … well, not wealthy, because we stopped telling people about our losses after the first one, but at least able to buy myself a very large and fancy cup of coffee with a scone. I wrote about this for my “Bust a Myth” post last year, too (http://ahalfbakedlife.blogspot.com/2011/04/bust-myth-loss-and-if-arent-as-bad-for.html) … secondary infertility was a very lonely place for me until I found this community, and even then, I sometimes felt like I was asking too much, that other women deserved at least one child before I could have two.

If we did a better job taking care of each other, maybe we’d have more visibility outside of our community, too.

Thank you for your lovely comments on my post! I am so glad to have met you here, too, and am so impressed with the work the advocacy you’ve done through writing and publishing!
Justine recently posted..Don’t Ignore: the Space BetweenMy Profile

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5 Amy April 26, 2012 at 9:51 pm

I am sorry you feel so alone dealing with secondary infertility. I have no living children so it’s hard to relate but reading your post I realize you struggle with some of the same challenges I do about where I fit in.

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6 Lori Lavender Luz April 26, 2012 at 10:46 pm

Well said, Kathy. You do a good job of sharing why people should show compassion for those experiencing any order (primary or secondary) of infertility.
Lori Lavender Luz recently posted..Perfect Moment Monday: Core issueMy Profile

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7 Hattie April 27, 2012 at 9:09 am

Great post and such a needed perspective. To me, it all boils down to empathy. I am experiencing something different than you, but that doesn’t mean I can’t understand that you are hurting.

ICLW #74

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8 Kristin April 27, 2012 at 9:14 am

Hello from ICLW! I’m in the same boat as Jennifer, working on my first. But you are right, this isn’t the Pain Olympics and one person’s form of pain and grief can’t and doesn’t compare with another’s. I’m so sorry for your loss.

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9 Pamela Tsigdinos April 27, 2012 at 9:49 am

Thanks, Kathy, for this post and all you do to raise awareness. Lisa and I have had many conversations about the challenges of being “the black sheep” of the infertility community. We’re the nightmare scenario for those who are trying to conceive and we’re often rendered invisible by those who move on to motherhood. To be “seen” is a gift unto itself…thanks again!
Pamela Tsigdinos recently posted..Don’t Ignore…There’s More Than One Infertility EndingMy Profile

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10 EndoJourney April 27, 2012 at 11:22 pm

Great point! I don’t have children but I know people who do have 1 or some and still struggle to have more. It’s a couple’s decision what they want their family to look like. No one else has a right to judge how many children they want. The frustration of getting that family when dealing with infertility cannot be understated.

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11 Tracey April 28, 2012 at 12:57 am

Hi, stopping by from ICLW 92. I just blogged on not ignoring the support of those who’ve walked in your shoes and been successful, and in it I touched on the bias against secondary infertility patients who some primary infertility patients view as greedy for coming back for more. We should all try to see ourselves as merely women who can’t have the families we want, instead of women who can’t have a baby.
I blog for my IVF docs at Long Island IVF so I can share my stories. I’m hoping ICLW and NIAW can help me find new blogs and spread the word about LIIVF’s free Micro-IVF cycle contest kicking off this week. Details for those interested are on the blog or Long Island IVF’s FB page.

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12 Katie April 28, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Thank you for writing this. I dealt with IF before my daughter and now SIF and RPL since her. Its so hard to explain to people when the first words out of there mouth’s are “well at least you have your daughter”…And I get that…but that doesn’t take the pain away from everything I have endured after her…and that list is pretty dang long.

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13 Annissa April 28, 2012 at 11:09 pm

I suffered through secondary infertility for years, 14 miscarriages… but I was blessed 4 times in the time frame.

I totally agree that some people feel we should have just been thankful with the one child and not understanding the need or want for more. Knowing in your heart your family isn’t yet complete….

Perusing your blog via ICLW (#86)
Annissa recently posted..Potty Trained – SUCCESS!!!My Profile

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