Sisterhood of the Effed-Up Lady Parts

I've received a few comments and emails asking about my feelings of guilt about wanting a second child, given what I went through to have Isabella.

First, I must say thank you for trying to assuage these feelings. They are ever-present and, at times, strangely all-consuming. I can only describe them as the confluence of survivor's guilt and my inability to achieve the good mother standard. Although neither really describes what it is I'm feeling.

I liken my situation to winning the lottery twice. The first time, everyone is thrilled for you. You've plunked down your $5.00 every week for 20 years for the chance to strike it rich. You've got crushing credit card debt. Your wife has left you, you've lost your job, and your dog has just died. And then, the sun shines down on you and you finally win. After all these years. After all the heartbreak. Your ship has come in.

But a few years later, you start complaining that you need more money. Suddenly, the jackpot you were damned lucky to hit once isn't enough. You want a faster boat. Another house, in Tuscany this time. You aren't content with the riches you have, and yet there are still plenty of people waiting for their chance to win for the first time. People who deserve it as much if not more than you do.

When I first found out that I was pregnant with Isabella, I felt as if I had been given an enormous gift. Of course, most expectant moms feel this way. But given my struggles with infertility, the realist in me felt I would never be a mother. To have given birth to Isabella 18 months ago still feels like a miracle.

To now be asking for another one just doesn't sit right with me. The sisterhood formed from the hell that is infertility is a strong one. And while I don't read as many infertility blogs as I once did, the stories of the women whose blogs I do still read serve to reconnect me with the familiar feelings of not being able to get pregnant for two years, despite Herculean efforts. Why was I so lucky and they were not? Why has God, the universe, whatever, seen fit to make me a mother and not them?

It isn't right. It isn't fair.

Shouldn't I take my one miracle ART baby and call it a day?

As many of you have told me, I'm entitled to want the family that my fertile friends are able to achieve. Infertility doesn't disqualify me from wanting what everyone else with working parts wants. But for me, it still seems greedy. I want my sisters to experience the joys of motherhood, and, however irrational it may seem, I feel as if I'm cutting them in line.

Every woman who wants to should be given the chance to be a mother. It angers and pains me to read the stories of those who are struggling. Common sense tells me that a potential second pregnancy isn't stealing the baby of someone still waiting for her first.

And yet, I still feel like I'm cheating the system.

11 Responses to “Sisterhood of the Effed-Up Lady Parts”

  1. # Blogger l

    Kristi, it's not like you're cheating the system at all. In the lottery example, winning the lottery a second time denies someone else that same chance. But your potential second baby? Your family? Those are rights for only YOU and your husband. You're not denying someone else the chance to make a family of their own. Nor are you using up all the good fortune in the universe. I don't believe there's a finite amount of goodness to be dispersed amongst the world. Unlike matter, I think we can each make our own goodness to spread and add to the world. For you, part of that is raising children who will become good people (how can they not when they're raised by humble, gracious and thoughtful parents?). Even the act of honestly examining your motivations for wanting a second child spreads goodness.  

  2. # Blogger My Wombinations

    Wow, I definitely second what she said. You are not denying someone else their chance. But the lottery example does shed some light on your inner feelings and while, I do have a better grasp on them now, I also really wish you did not have to feel them. Your compassion is really lovely and so rare. It is part of what draws so many people to you, I imagine. But for this instance, just in this moment, maybe it is ok to have a small sense of entitlement, especially given that this is one instance in which no one else will suffer from your bounty. It is ok for you to be a mother twice, in fact, I would say it is a hugely positive thing for the universe. Your wonderful values will translate to more than just one child! The universe wins!  

  3. # Blogger Tracey

    Yeah, what they said...

    :)

    It's ok to feel bad that other people have troubles, too. In fact, I'd be concerned if you DIDN'T feel for all of the heartache and strife in the world! But that doesn't discount the daily wants and traumas each individual goes through, no matter how small or huge they may be in comparison. I can bitch and whine about being tired today (which I am) but I know that somewhere, out in the world, there are millions who are dying of disease, starvation, and abuse. Their strife doesn't negate exhaustion, it just puts it into more perspective for me.  

  4. # Anonymous Lis Garrett

    I think all mothers, fertility issues or not, can empathize with those who desperately want to become a mother even just once or multiple times over. I can't understand people who choose not to have children. For me, there was never any other way. The fact that you want more than one in no way means you are selfish, and you are completely deserving of any children that may come your way in the future. On the flip side, you know the guilt I feel when I read about your struggles, how completely undeserving I am of the three children I have. My own sister had fertility issues, and it pained me each time I would announce I was pregnant while she struggled just to get that way.

    PS - If this comment makes absolutely NO sense, it is because my kids are screaming and hitting and I've had to get up about five times. No joke. So I'll just echo what the other commenters have said (who are obviously more coherent than I am at the moment).

    I'll just add that you have absolutely no reason to feel guilty (easier said than done, though).  

  5. # Anonymous Kris

    I completely understand how you feel. After my experiences with infertility, and reading so many blogs of women who had gone through so much more than I had- I felt very guilty when my first IUI worked. Very blessed, and incredibly happy obviously... IVF wouldn't have been possible for us financially for years possibly- so if IUI hadn't worked, I'm not sure I ever would have had the family I wanted. But luckily, it was all I needed.

    When we decided to try for 2, I was scared that we wouldn't hit the lottery the second time, and at the same time felt guilty that I could and that my answers came relatively easy.

    But I agree with everyone else- you hitting the lottery doesn't mean that you are taking that chance away from everyone else. When I was feeling like I would never get pregnant, I was always much happier when a fellow infertile got that 2nd line, because it gave me hope for myself. Even if I couldn't bring myself to read or comment with the pregnancy posts- I was still happy for them and for the glimmer of hope that their pregnancy gave me.  

  6. # Blogger Jesser

    Don't feel guilty ... I can definitely understand some of it based on what you wrote, but you deserve to have the family you want no matter how you get there, assuming you don't hurt anyone else, and it's not like this hurts anyone else (like has been pointed out). I'll be thinking positive thoughts for you tomorrow.  

  7. # Anonymous Stacey

    Just remember...it's not a finite supply. Your being able to have more than one child, doesn't lessen someone else's chance of having their own! I know you know that, but it seems like maybe it seems that way to you a tiny bit.  

  8. # Anonymous Laura McIntyre

    I honestly cannot imagine being in your situation, but i also don't think you should feel guilty. Why shouldn't you have another child? Or another dozen if thats what you want.

    You are a wonderful mother and from what i have read about Isabella she is a wonderful little girl, why shouldn't another one be brought into this world  

  9. # Anonymous Veronica

    I agree, too, that it isn't like a lottery.

    It's kind of like throwing away food after dinner -- yeah, maybe you shouldn't do it, but you know you're not going to eat it anyway. But even if you saved it in your refrigerator for ten weeks, it doesn't mean that someone who is starving in Africa is going to get any additional food because you saved it in the fridge, you know what I mean?

    Your embryos and your process of getting pregnant isn't taking it away from other mothers. I hope they also get their wish, but one doesn't negate the other.

    I hope you feel better about this.

    Good luck next week...

    Veronica  

  10. # Blogger The Princess

    Ahhh....finally a moment to comment...sorry it's been soooo long!

    I think the desire to procreate is innate in some. Of course it makes sense that you want another child, it's a natural response for motherhood. When Camille turned 1 year old, my heart longed for another child. Some, still to this day, thought I was selfish, after all we went through w/ Camille. I almost died for goodness sakes delivering her. But the desire was still there and strong, I wasn't going to feel like our family was complete.

    Now here I am with my 1 month old fast asleep on my chest in her sling after a picture perfect delivery. This time? No dear death experiences. It all worked out in the end like I know it will for you.

    You deserve another miracle!  

  11. # Blogger sher

    You have such empathy for people in general, and you've always displayed enormous compassion for others struggling to have a child. So, I totally see why you feel guilt. But, it is your life--and after having the concentrated bundle of magic that is Isabella, wanting to have another child makes total sense. Better to take this shot at it than kick yourself later for not trying! Hugs to you!  

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    born in August 2006 following
    IVF and girl/boy twins born in October 2008 following FET. Come along as I document the search for my lost intellect. It's a bumpy ride. Consider yourself warned.

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