1. Secondary infertility is often a hidden pain. People see you with a child and don’t know the ache of a family which feels incomplete. Plan to use #Wecanall to survive secondary infertility.

Grief hammers unexpectedly.

My three-year-old son was playing outside in the yard until all of a sudden he wasn’t. I called for him loudly but couldn’t find him— didn’t see him until panic tensed the muscles in my head.

He rounded the corner of our yellowed outdoor stairs that lead to a busy street. “Mommy, I got the mail,” he said, as two white pieces trailed behind him like flags of surrender.

First the splinter of anger: “Honey no, you can’t go in the front yard by yourself. You could get hit by a car.” Then after came the quake of tears, crumpling to my knees with the reality of my near loss.

Mommy, don’t be sad,” he said. “I’ll give you a toy, and you’ll feel better.

I rocked him while I shook. This is the only child I will probably ever have.

Not for want of trying.

He’s my miracle after seven blistering years and rounds of IVF.

It’s been a month since we got the devastating news our last round of IVF failed. I received the bloodwork Christmas Eve morning, the tree sparkling with lights and handmade ornaments I dreamed would carry the photo of our next baby.

Two weeks in bed, the blinds drawn, and a parade of food dropped at my door like a conveyor belt because as luck would have it, not only did I lose our tiny concentric circles of cells, but I also got COVID.

The soups did little to ease the cumulative loss of not being able to hold my toddler who was quarantined. Season two of Emily in Paris, my companion keeping me sane.

My body still felt pregnant, sick with hormones— the swollen belly, the cramps in my legs, the phantom pressure in my abdomen.

I wasn’t trying to numb the rage, the anger, the disappointment, or the overwhelming loss. I was empty, and that empty place needed time to gather strength. I was waiting for something—waiting to be ok enough to meet the world again.

How to live with the longing that our family is incomplete?

I pack away the baby clothes and books like “I’m a Big Brother.” I detach the photos of perfect atoms of starlight from the refrigerator.

Movements from this cave are slow. I can’t swallow the enormity of a future without these babies. Grief distills my life into singular moments.

Untangling blonde curls at the nape of his neck.
Breathing the crevices smelling of sweat and sand.
A blanket out in sunshine and sea-salt on my tongue while he traces roads for his tractors.
The solid weight of my husband’s arm draped across my waist in pre-dawn light.
The dimple of my son’s mouth as I bend to nibble his toes.
I turn the music up loud in the kitchen and mimic his discombobulated dance.

Sometimes I catch the arc of a rainbow in a rainy mist and I can’t help but hope.

For now I live one present second at a time, not wanting to miss the soft pats on my back he comforts me with while I sing him to sleep.

Sarita H., PR

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