What It’s Like to Be TTC After a Miracle Baby
I kiss my daughter’s perfectly squishable cheeks as I lay her down for bed. I watch how she curls her legs into her chest and puckers her tiny, perfect lips as she sleeps, and it takes everything in me not to scoop her back into my arms and squeeze her tight. I could look at her for hours. She is the most incredible work of art I’ve ever had the pleasure of studying. She is love and light. She is healing. She is 1,095 days TTC. She is our slim to none chance. She is our proof that miracles exist.
I cling to every passing moment with her, and sometimes, my heart aches as I watch her grow, because I never want to forget the way these days with her made me feel. With every new moment with her, I play catch and release as I desperately try to remember every detail of each new stage and quirk. I have trained myself to believe that she will be our only baby. I feel grief at the thought of us never being able to have another while also feeling selfish for wanting more than the precious miracle I’ve been given. I’ve learned to watch my words when I speak about children, and to never say anything that insinuates that we will have another baby. I am careful to be too optimistic, to be too doting on pregnancy, to talk too much about how I’ve adored having a baby. My language is guarded, like my heart.
Nearing the end of my pregnancy, a lingering sense of sadness loomed. It sounds wrong to say, because I had never been more at peace than I was in the nine months I carried my daughter. Every fear and anxiety had faded, as if her tiny, innocent life inside me brought me nearer to a childlike peace than I had been since I was a little girl. Something magical happened with pregnancy, beyond the obvious magic of having the possibility to grow a human inside of me. It was complete solace, where I couldn’t worry about a thing if I tried—deadlines, finances, illness, chaos—it was like nothing could touch me. I was sheltered in the magic of our long-awaited miracle. But the closer I got to my due date, the more I could see that sadness in the distance. It looked different than before, diminished a good amount by the exquisite light of my daughter, but still there, nevertheless. I have learned that the pain that comes with infertility never fully goes away.
We are trying to conceive. We have been since our doctor gave us the postpartum green light. We don’t know what that means for us.
We don’t know if or when we will get pregnant again. We don’t know if it will take another three years, if it can happen naturally again because it did once, or if our only chances lie in medicine and doctors. We don’t have the leeway of waiting until we feel ready, or until we feel our daughter is ready. We don’t have the luxury of planning for a window or a time frame. Because we know that just because it happened once, it doesn’t mean it will happen again. Maybe one miracle is all we will ever get to experience. And while that one miracle is everything to us, and I often feel guilty for wishing for another, I sometimes feel sorrow for the fact that our future and the prospect of conceiving another child should have to involve a miracle at all. The fact that we are playing another guessing game with our bodies and slim odds once again sometimes makes me feel broken all over again.
The effects of infertility will always be with me like a scar. Regardless of the pregnancy I’ve been able to have and whether or not we are ever able to conceive again, those insecurities, that shame and guilt, the flood of emotions, and all the ugliness that comes with infertility will always be somewhere deep inside me. Infertility had once seeped into my cracks and it can never fully be removed. It’s a part of me, and it’s a part of who I am. It’s a part of my husband, a part of my daughter, a part of my future family. And until recently, I believed I’d accepted that part of myself. But I realized that when it comes to infertility and TTC, it will always infiltrate and distort what should be normal and natural experiences of being human.
I find myself following up sentences in conversation with “if we’re able to have another,” or “if it happens for us again.” I can’t just say, “I’ll have to remember this brand of baby shoes for next time,” without immediately feeling foolish and adding “if there is a next time.” I feel silly for saving all of my daughter’s clothes as she outgrows them, knowing what I know about myself and about my husband and family. I feel the need to remind our loved ones that just because it happened once doesn’t mean it’s going to happen again whenever they mention another baby.
Just as I felt guilt in those three years TTC before my daughter, I feel guilt in TTC now. Only now, I feel guilt in the sadness I have over having trouble now because I feel selfish for wanting another when I’ve already been given a precious miracle. I wonder if I’m not cherishing my daughter enough because I’m already longing for another child.
Something I hadn’t accepted until recently—infertility post-pregnancy and baby can also come with pain. And just as with facing my infertility the first time around, I have once again found myself afraid to say it out loud. That I am still dealing with infertility. I had been hoping with everything in me that my pregnancy would fix my body, and that maybe since we’d had such trouble the first time around, getting pregnant a second time would just come easily. As it turns out, that doesn’t seem to be our story. And that kind of acceptance isn’t much easier the second time around.
To those who are presently waiting on the miracle of a child and are struggling to believe it could ever happen for them—feeling like if they were anyone else other than themselves, a miracle might be within reach—I see you and I acknowledge your pain. I know that even as I talk about my situation, there is someone who would give anything to be in my position, and I do not take that for granted. Infertility is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I encourage you to be open about your pain when you are ready—the world could use the opportunity to acknowledge your strength. That you are able to show up everyday and live your life alongside friends, coworkers, acquaintances, and loved ones who have what you desire most on this earth is a victory in itself—I know how much strength it can often require. People might say that this isn’t the end of your story, that maybe your story will lead you to a place can’t even imagine yet, that it may involve a long-winding path that will have been worth it in the end. I wholeheartedly pray that is the case for you, but I’m also sorry that your present situation is a part of your story at all. I wish it didn’t have to be.
To those who are having trouble getting or staying pregnant following a successful pregnancy, your pain is not invalidated by the child you do have. You are allowed to feel sadness for your circumstances, and you don’t need to feel guilty or selfish for feeling what you feel. Longing for another child does not mean that you love the one(s) you have any less. It’s okay to admit your desires out loud.
I know so many have faced even more heartache and grief than we have, and some have had to bear more pain than I could ever imagine. I know that some people never get to experience carrying their own babies inside of them. I know that even parents who are meant for their little ones to come to them through foster care or adoption may still grieve never having the opportunity to carry their babies inside them. I know that the pain of infertility may never fully go away, that the questioning and the guilt and the insecurities that come with it may sting for years even after we’ve accepted it. I know that just as there was nothing my husband and I did wrong to cause the misfortune of infertility, there was also nothing we did right to earn the pregnancy God allowed us to have.
If you are currently suffering beneath this indescribable grief, just know that you are not alone in what you’re feeling. Know that there is nothing wrong with you. Know that there is nothing that you have done to deserve this. Don’t condemn yourself for feeling grief, sadness, or anger. Keep fighting. Keep believing life is good. I wholeheartedly believe that your time will come, in one way or another, to reap the goodness and light of this life that you deserve for continuing to move forward and breathe and smile even on the days that you were sure you couldn’t.
You are not alone. #infertilityawareness #iam1in8