I was speaking to a friend this weekend -- let's call her Anne -- who has been trying to conceive her second child for over a year. She has what's called "secondary infertility." There is a lot of discussion on the support group websites about whether that's better or worse than primary infertility. The women who haven't yet had one child usually say, "At least you have one child. That's better than nothing." And the women who want more children say something like, "If you have one leg, it doesn't mean you don't desperately want a second."
I've never bought the leg thing completely, but I do understand that when someone wants something and can't have it, it hurts. My friend Lucy agrees. She was telling me the other day that she thought everybody's suffering was valid, even if it was for what seemed like a trivial cause. Suffering is suffering, and pain hurts, no matter what it's for. Oneupmanship in pain is useless.
So Anne brought up a point that I'd heard before but couldn't really appreciate until I put it into the context of her life with her own toddler. She said, "I guess the way it's different is that you know what you're missing. When you wish for a second child, you know exactly what it would be like to have it." I watched her hold and interact with her little toddler. I tried to see the invisible waves of love and understanding vibrate between her eyes and his. I didn't see it, I couldn't feel it, but I was so close, I know it must have been there. I marveled. I imagined it. I wondered.
James and I also went to a family reunion this weekend and I saw a 7-week old little baby, my first-cousin-once-removed-in-law. I held her and fed her and watched her little face and played with her miniature hands. When her daddy took her away I missed her. I watched her go.
I can't wait till I get to experience secondary infertility.