Waiting for a (second) baby

Here’s a contribution from one of our members. She says that this might be more of an issue when you’ve given up work to be with a child and then you feel you might only have the one (“although I know of people desperate for a second child to have more maternity leave!”)

Age gaps. I became obsessed with age gaps when we started trying for our second child. It wasn’t something I had ever noticed before, but I started to ask, apparently innocently, ‘so what’s your age gap then?’ when I met people with two children. I had a simple scoring mechanism: less than the age gap I would have if I got pregnant soon, bad; more than my potential age gap, phew, there’s still time.

I had never heard of ‘secondary infertility’ before. But I became an expert on the agony of trying for a second child and not falling pregnant. Our daughter had come along wonderfully quickly and very obviously as soon as we started trying. But now I faced month after month of hoping, trying not to plan and then disappointment. I seemed to have every symptom in the book, metallic taste in the mouth, sore breasts, nausea, tiredness, whatever, but not be pregnant. The psychosomatic nature my body was in overdrive.

It was the monthly nature of it that made things so bad, even the weekly nature. The first couple of weeks of my cycle were almost a relief, when hope dawned again. Then there would be the awful waiting time and the over sensitivity to every nuance of my body. Then, to cap it all, my cycle became irregular, so I could be up to six days ‘late’ in which to work out what the due date would be, whether it would be the right season to reuse the baby clothes, possible names, when I could tell people, and all the other hopes that would run away with me. I had to try to keep my mind fully under control not to build myself up. It got to the point where I would be doing a pregnancy test just to find out it was negative and stop myself being hopeful. People say that a late miscarriage is awful, and no doubt it is agony, but I found that even a day late and I would be grieving for the baby that didn’t exist.

I was disappointed to find how badly I reacted to friends telling me they were pregnant, not that I would show it. I generally love the sight of pregnant women, the calm before the storm, but I felt so envious of any bumps. I’d spot a maternity top or an elasticated waist from a mile off. It was a sort of madness. I like to think I’m a fairly balanced individual who has endured her fair share of hard times, but the desire for another child completely dominated my horizon. I didn’t like the way I was but I just couldn’t help it. Strangely, the first few months of trying were the worst. I felt just as bad when I wasn’t pregnant after two months as I did after fifteen months. I had very mixed feelings at any birth announcements; joy for my friends but sadness at my own failure to have any more children.

Nevertheless, I was still very grateful for our daughter, particularly as I know people who can’t have children. It seems mad that I should have reacted so badly, but I was so immersed in the baby world through my daughter that I couldn’t forget about it. Also, I knew the huge joy she brought to us and I really wanted to experience it again.

Eventually, after about a year of trying, being over 35, the doctor referred us to a fertility clinic. My husband was tested and got a clean bill of health. I went for a scan at about the right time and saw a follicle which probably included the egg about to be released. I found it quite hard having the ultrasound and seeing emptiness where I had seen my daughter the last time I’d been scanned. However, I was encouraged to know I was still ovulating well. We took note of the relevant dates and I was booked to return in three weeks’ time after my period to follow up on a possible cyst. Ironically, my period was late again, so I reluctantly did a pregnancy test, not wanting to be disappointed, but found it was negative. I still hadn’t started when I returned for the next ultrasound. I have to admit that my hopes had crept up as I was one day later than I had ever been. I was quite scared of the disappointment I would face when I found out I wasn’t pregnant. The sonographer didn’t see anything at first so she did an internal scan where she saw something that might be a pregnancy sac. My heart was thumping with anticipation and fear of disappointment. I was taken off to do a test and endured a horrendous wait for the results. I can still remember vividly the complete and utter joy at finding out I was pregnant! I hadn’t had any symptoms in particular, certainly no more than I had had any other month. It was as though a huge dark cloud had cleared and I could see the sky again. Shortly after I met a friend who told me she was pregnant and I rejoiced fully and properly for the first time in over a year.

I had a six week scan to check the viability of the pregnancy so that I could be signed off from the fertility clinic. All I saw was a heartbeat. That’s all there was to see. It was incredible. Six weeks later I saw the full foetus. So what’s our age gap? I’ll happily say; it’s two and three quarter years. It seemed like a lifetime while I was waiting. Now it seems perfect. The agony of the wait has made our son’s arrival even more wonderful. We love our son and daughter equally and totally, but there is something about Charlie’s very existence that fills me with extra joy. However, that can also be attributed to the fact that he nearly died at five weeks old. But that’s another story.

© Claire Paye 2009

One Response to “Waiting for a (second) baby”

  1. Mum with five year gap Says:

    Great that it worked out for your family.
    Just wanted to say that we have a five year age gap between our daughters and I have to say that this is also ‘perfect’ in many respects. There’s also a four year age gap between myself and my own sister, born in the 60s . Despite the gap we have always been very very close. I often think that sibling relationships blossom mostly in adulthood, and by then the age gap is pretty much irrelevant.

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