I have two kids. Two children that arrived the good old fashioned way despite the fact we spent four years aching with the pain of fertility struggles. Two children that did not result from injectible drugs, swollen over-stuffed ovaries and many appointments with a doctor despite the fact that I do wear the badge of "in vitro" pincushion. In the end none of that mattered because both just happened to us.
You'd think it'd help remove the memories. You would think it would make all that old ache melt away. You would think that news of someone else's ease wouldn't pick at the scabs because in the end, we had our own ease. But it doens't.
There are two moms in my local Mom's group that strike deep chords in the wounded infertile that still hides in the crevices of my reproductive tract. The first will go in for her first IUI tomorrow. Her first child was an "oops" baby - adored and wanted the moment they knew of her conception but not at all planned. Her second has been alluding them for years now. We chat a lot. We talk about her RE - my former doctor. We talk about the tests. We talk about the things people say when they mean well but really they just make you want to scream and spit. We talk about how she couldn't bring herself to attend last night's group baby shower for the five current pregnant moms. We talk about how I understand and yet how I still feel so guilty that our talks of her struggles are peppered with talk of my almost 5-month old.
The second mom just announced that she's 5 weeks pregnant with her fourth child. A child she and her husband had planned to have - only a good year or two in the future. All four of her children were unplanned. All four are adored and happily recieved - but all four came not only without a few months of trying, but without a few months of planning. There was no wistful talk of "When we start trying next month...", it just came. Her news popped up in my inbox before she even told her own spouse. It sat that on my screen in the office and it poked at what remains of the scared emotions our long-past troubles left in their wake.
I'd like to say that the first thought I had was of my friend. That I inhaled sharply and worried how the news of this other woman was going to stab her in the heart the day before she went in with hopes that a doctor and a catheter could do what nature hadn't. Those thoughts did cross my mind but not before flashes of my history flew by. Memories of syringes. Memories of ultrasounds. Memories of drug induced hot flashes and mirgranes.
Perhaps all those things feel so fresh to me now because I've been reliving it as I hold the hand of this friend. Or maybe its just what it is. Maybe that very real, very difficult time of our lives is just so tightly woven into my fabric that its never going to go completely away no matter how things turned out. The truth is when my friend said to me yesterday - "Do you mind if I ask if your two came from the IVF?" - I felt guilty. I felt like a fraud.
"No. I mean we did all that. We went through all the tests and the ache and the treatment...but it failed miserably and we moved on. They just came along on their own accord - one a surprise and the other a surprise in that she came along so easily and quickly in our attempts." And then I mumble something about how weird it felt to have worn the label of infertile and never having a kid to being pregnant. . .and mumbled some more. . .and I felt the guilt of it. She understood though, and perhaps its because she's a mother already dealing with her own guilt. The flavor secondary infertility can awaken - the whole "shouldn't I be happy with just one?" and the "why is this so hard when I've done it before?!" She aches and guilts too. Perhaps that's why we're friends.