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Being a Baby Hog?
a blog by Suzanne Rico, July 11, 2012
In 2004, the woman sitting across from me at the fertility retreat was 39 years old, from the Bay Area, and athletically built – all things we had in common. But instead of tearing up like the other emotionally wounded participants struggling to have a child, this woman looked a little sheepish as she shared her story.
“I feel bad for even being here,” she explained to this otherwise childless group, “because I already have a child. But I just really want another.” Right there, I vowed that if I ever were lucky enough to have a kid of my own, I would never look God’s gift horse in the mouth. One squalling, scrunchy-faced ticket to the mommy club would be fine, thank you.
Ha, ha, ha. Two years later, after my son was born, I learned secondary infertility can be a tough as the regular kind. I had set myself up for a painful fall: “I’m a pro at this baby-making thing!” I thought smugly, when we began trying for another child. “My body knows how to do it now!”
But my body didn’t. I failed three in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles in a row, each one producing an ever-decreasing number of eggs. My husband wanted to quit trying and count our one, perfect little blessing, but I fought this idea with a combination of tears, cajoling and desperate begging.
Why couldn’t I be happy with one? Perhaps the answer lies in simple biology. To a caveman, multiple kids probably just meant he had to spend more time hunting mammoth for food, but to a cavewoman, whose maternal instinct was beginning to be hardwired into her developing brain, more was definitely better. It was an insurance policy of sorts; if she had six kids, perhaps two might survive. And I imagine that cuddling a baby in a wolf skin sling back then must have been as addictive as strapping one into the Baby Bjorn is now.
Plus, an unscientific poll of my infertile friends indicates that the desire to procreate increases the moment a woman discovers it’s not going to be easy. And so, having a second child felt as important — and as painful when it didn’t happen — as the first go around. And, just like the baby-hog woman at the fertility retreat, I felt ashamed of my greed.
One thing that really helped was remembering that there are many ways to grow a family. My husband and I agreed we would adopt and had started that process when a friend of a friend of a friend said she would be willing to act as a gestational carrier for me. We decided to give it one last try — my seventh IVF — and we soon learned our gestational surrogate was carrying triplets. It was an agonizing first trimester as we lost one, and then another — but we ended up with one healthy, beautiful little heartbeat.
My boys are now 4 and almost 7 years old, and if somehow the Baby Fairy came down to promise I could have one perfect baby girl, I would say sign up. My husband might leave me, but my kids would be thrilled.
“I really, really want one, Mom!” says Griffin, begging for a baby sister the way he would a puppy.
“So do I, baby,” I say, “so do I.” For many women on the infertility journey, that’s just the way it works.