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Rainbows and Secondary Infertility

She sat down to paint her rainbow.

“But I’m missing some colors,” she said.

“No, you’re not.”  He replied.

“I really am!  I am here to paint my rainbow, so I need red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.”

“These are the colors I intended you to have… you can still paint a rainbow with these colors.  It may not be the exact rainbow you had in mind, but it will be yours, and it will be beautiful….”

Big Dreams & Big Storms

I grew up with many siblings, and knew one day I wanted to be a mama to many children of my own.  I wanted my kids to all be two years apart, just like my siblings and me.  And I wanted at least two girls, because my sisters and I are very close.

Hi, my name is Jessie and I am a tiny bit type-A and like to plan things out well in advance.

But also?  I am a dreamer who likes to live in the hope of the sun.

And as a kid, my dreams were big and specific and happy.  Full of rainbows and sunshine and joy.

As a kid, my dreams were full of a loving husband and pregnancies and babies and kids and a house full of the best kind of noise.

As a kid, I knew exactly what kind of rainbow I wanted to paint.

The colors started pouring themselves onto my paper as I met the boy of my dreams and graduated college and got the job I’d always wanted… moving to a different state to follow and eventually marry that boy.

And my painting became even more complete when we welcomed our first baby, my sweet daughter, into the world in 2011.

Fast forward to her first birthday and it was time to add another color to my rainbow.  And before I could even pick up a paintbrush my shaking hands held a positive pregnancy test in completely disbelief.

It had happened so quickly!  Another baby!  There was another tiny, precious heart beating inside of my body!  Another swipe of beautiful color on the paper of my life!

And then…

it was gone.

A storm cloud overtook my rainbow.  An ache for the child I’d never meet, never know.

But we opened up our umbrellas to brave the rain, and tried with all our might to weather the storm in the best way we could.

But the clouds just wouldn’t pass.  It kept raining, and I was drowning.

Where was our rainbow?  Why was it so dark?  It had to stop raining at some point, right?

And then there it was – a glimmer of hope, a ray of sunshine peaking through the clouds… another precious heart beating inside of my body.

However, just as quickly as we saw the sun, it was gone again. 

Another baby we’d never meet.

And what followed?  Months and months and MONTHS of trying to navigate a storm that left us feeling hopeless and alone and scared and heartbroken.

The storm of secondary infertility.

And slowly, but surely, I am learning that I can only paint my life with the colors I am given.  And it is up to me to turn those colors into something beautiful.

Rainbows

Secondary infertility is a tricky path to navigate.  You experience the inability to conceive/sustain a pregnancy after already having a baby.  It is a broken heart, a broken dream… an ache that is not visible to the outside world, especially since you already have a healthy, happy child walking beside you in life.

Secondary infertility rocked my world.  Being hi-I’m-a-planner-with-big-dreams-Jessie, I couldn’t believe that everything I’d ever imagined for my life was not happening.

And I felt alone.  So very alone.  And guilty for being sad, because I did have my precious daughter.  And I was so incredibly grateful to have her.

But still… my dreams for my life felt shattered.

At the time, there were ten family members/close friends in my life who were pregnant.  TEN.  Everywhere I looked was a growing belly, a pregnancy announcement, someone becoming a big sister.  My dreams were happening all around me… they just weren’t happening to me.

And I was jealous.  And resentful.  And felt that a lot of people didn’t understand.

“But you have a daughter.  You are so lucky!  There are so many people who would give anything to be in your position.”

And I understood that.

And honestly, I wasn’t jealous of people who were announcing their first pregnancies.  I found myself able to feel joy for them.  Because I’d had that!  I had my daughter.  I experienced that first-time-becoming-a-mama thing.

My trouble came when I heard the news of someone having their second, third, fourth…  because that was what I longed for.  And seeing a little girl becoming a big sister made my heart ache.  I wanted so badly to give my daughter a sibling.

And then the guilt… oh the guilt.  For not being content with the one child I already had.  For not being able to relish in others’ happy moments.  For not being able to put my selfishness aside and push away the pang of jealousy when everything I wished for was happening to someone else.

But still – my soul ached for the life I’d dreamed of for so long.  I had holes in my heart where the beating of my lost babies’ hearts had once resided.  I was stuck in a tornado of emotions and hopelessness, and didn’t know anyone else who had ever weathered the storm of secondary infertility.

Have you ever had your heart broken?  There is nothing like it.  It is an all-encompassing pain like no other.  From the outside, no one can tell that you are broken.  Yet inside, you are in pieces.

Secondary infertility broke my heart. 

On the outside, I was a happy mama to a beautiful little girl.  But on the inside, I was shattered and struggling to make my pieces fit back together again.

But I think a heart that has been broken and put back together is stronger than one that has never felt pain.

If you see me these days, I’m likely in Target pushing a cart with three – yes, three kids.  One is probably crying, one is probably suckering me into buying a new toy, and the other is likely half naked.  And just about everyone who passes by will say, “Wow, you sure do have your hands full.”

“Yes, yes I do, thank goodness.”

Several years ago I never would’ve believed I’d have a cart full of kids in the aisles of Target.  And most of the time it still catches my breath that they are mine.

There were tears and worries, hopeful prayers and hopeless cries, fertility treatments and hormone therapy, acupuncture and sleepless nights, doctor appointments and selling cars to pay medical bills, ultrasounds and doppler monitors, the perfect rhythm of a strong heartbeat and the beautiful music made by a baby’s first cry.

Those three kids in the Target cart?  The crying one, the begging one, the half-naked one?

They are the color in my dreams.

The painting of my life is a mess.  There are some crayon marks here, a rip in the page over there.  My rainbow is misshapen and the colors are runny and out of order and a dark cloud is covering up half of it and most of it remains unfinished.

It is bruised and it is broken, but it is perfect

Because it is mine

And slowly, but surely, I am learning that I can only paint my life with the colors I am given.  And it is up to me to turn those colors into something beautiful.

Have you struggled with secondary infertility? How did you cope?

Contributing Sister Site and Author

Jessie-Peele
About {Jessie}

Jessie is a happy-hour-loving, cupcake-eating, running-obsessed, reality-tv-addicted mama and wife, currently living in Carrollton, GA. She was born and raised in Columbia, SC, attended Clemson University (Go Tigers!), and followed a cute boy to Winston-Salem, NC, after graduating from college. Lucky for her, that boy finally asked her to marry him, and they stayed in NC for ten years, during which Jessie taught elementary school. In January of 2014, they moved to GA and are still adjusting to life in a small town. With three kids in tow (5, 2, & 1), Jessie is now a full-time stay-at-home mama and a part-time skincare business owner via Rodan + Fields. In the nooks and crannies of her day, she loves running (bonus if it’s WITHOUT the stroller!), catching up on DVR, baking and eating anything sweet, drinking a good craft beer/red wine/cold margarita, and blogging about all things mama-hood on her blog Cupcakes & Running Shoes.

Jessie is a contributor for Atlanta Area Moms Blog, one of our Sister Sites.

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