Technically, our family struggles from secondary infertility, meaning, we are unable to conceive a child after successfully birthing a first child. But technically "secondary" doesn't really apply to us since there isn't a time when we ever weren't infertile and WE didn't conceive our first child. It's a weird place to be. Like this whole rest of our journey. Breaking the mold, y'all!
I remember before I had Matthew and I would hear people share their hurt over secondary infertility and my knee-jerk reaction was "So what? At least you have one child. Just be grateful." If you struggled with secondary IF during that time in my life, I probably thought those thoughts toward you. Please forgive me.
Now, that exact same sentiment is often sent our way as an effort to encourage--"At least you have Matthew!" And we do. Not one single day goes by when I don't realize what an amazing, precious, incredible little boy he is, and how immensely blessed we are to have him. But, you wouldn't tell a widow(er) to stop grieving the deceased spouse because at least they had X amount of years together. No amount of past or current blessing can replace what has been lost. Can make you stop missing it. I love Matthew completely and wholly. And my life is better now with him than it was before him. That is the only sense in which this second time around is "better." But Matthew's presence in my life will never ever make me stop missing his siblings. As each one is a unique person, each one had a different place in my heart and on this planet and in God's design. They're not interchangeable. To imply such invalidates their very nature as being created uniquely by God in His image. If you lost one of your born children, would you be comforted by "Well, at least you still have little Susie?" I don't know why people treat this situation any differently.
When you're grieving WITH a child, it's totally different than when you're grieving without one. It's not better or worse or harder or easier. It's just different. Now I carry grief for him, too. I miss what he will miss out on. I miss the relationships and memories and and experiences and family he won't have. I see him interacting with other children and I'm wistful of what could have been. I feel like in all of this, HE got the short end of the stick.
As a judgment on infertility or as an "encouragement" to grieving parents, that whole notion of "at least you have one," is just hard. It's true. It absolutely is. But to say that to someone hurting is not useful. Pain and joy are not mutually exclusive. Joy for the one does not satisfy the longing for the lost. Even Christ the Shepherd would leave the 99 sheep to rescue the 1 lost. Our family has a huge, gigantic, gaping hole in it and neither Matthew, or DH, nor I, nor any children in the future if some miracle were ever granted us, can fill the void they left.
The reality about secondary infertility is that no matter if you have one child or 20, it's hard to have your family choices made due to circumstances beyond your control. I'm not talking about a cosmic, none of us are really in control sort of way, but in the practical way. We did not make any active decisions that resulted in the stunting of our family growth. To have that taken away from you is hard, regardless of how many children you do or don't have.
To all you IF sisters out there, primary OR secondary, this road just hurts, and I'm sorry for all of us.
It's long been a soapbox of mine that love is a choice. But I'm learning on this journey that trust is a choice, too. (You say, "DUH Jen.") I have to choose trust. Choose to trust that this hurt is not for naught. Choose to believe that this pain will not last one second longer than it needs to. Choose to believe that God is good and faithful and that He loves me. I hope you'll make that choice, too.