I am a 38 year old woman and have a 5 year old daughter who began kindergarten this year just as I went back to work full time in my field of advertising. My husband and I always assumed we would have more than one child but we have not been able to get pregnant a second time. Many people tell us that we should be happy to have one child and we are but no one seems to understand how difficult this is for us. Why do I feel so guilty about “asking for more?” Does this mean we don’t love our daughter enough?
This is called “Secondary Infertility,” when one pregnancy is achieved easily and the second (or third) is not. It can leave one with the same feelings of disappointment, sadness and hopelessness that accompany all kinds of infertility. People are often surprised that these feelings are so strong when they already have given birth to a child. These feelings don’t mean you don’t love your first child or love them enough. They have to do with feelings about being betrayed when our bodies don’t do what they are “supposed” to do; with feelings about how we define ourselves as women and men and about the prospect of losing the fantasies we have about what our lives will be like.
Deciding on the size of one’s family is a very individual decision. Couples experiencing infertility do not have the luxury of just “getting” pregnant and must make very deliberate decisions about how (and how big) their families will grow. These can be very difficult, painful, time consuming and expensive decisions to make. It is essential to make time with your husband to talk about how you (not your friends and family) both feel. Professionals who deal with infertility often lead groups of women and/or couples trying to make similar decisions. Sometimes, talking with others who are experiencing the same thing helps couples resolve these issues and feel less isolated.