So a guy and a girl fall in love and get married. They decide they'd like a baby. So the girl stops taking contraception and lo and behold 9 months later she arrives. Life is so easy isn't it?
Except it isn't.
We were the guy and the girl.
We had Emily in 2006. She is the love of my life - words cannot explain how much I adore her.
When she was two we decided we'd like for her to have a sibling. So I came off contraception and.....nothing. But it was only the first month of course and we were VERY lucky first time. Then next month.....nothing. Six months later.......nothing. A year, 18 months, 2 years, 30 months. You have been trying for more than half your child's life. And somewhere along the line you realise you're dealing with something very different this time.
This year I threw away the third calendar since we had started trying for a baby. Nothing makes it seem starker when you see that yet another 365 days have flown by and you are still no further on that you were last time.
I have been examined, stuck with needles and had copious blood tests done. I have peed on countless ovulation sticks. We have done the necessary on the first Thursday of the month, at midnight whilst supping on the nectar of a golden tree. Well not quite, but you get the idea? And the result of all these tests.....nothing. A slight problem with thyroid levels but other than that nothing. So on my notes I'm classed as "sub-fertile" yet we have no reason - nothing we can do to improve this.
And you know, nobody every thinks there could be a problem. So you get the inevitable "are you having another?", "Do you think you'll have more children?" Or my favourite, the delightfully passive aggressive "Mummy, I think Emily wants a brother or sister don't you?"
Well yes, I know she does - she told me she does. When you see your own child using her toddler doll to be her "sister" you kind of get the assumption that she would quite like a sibling. And the overwhelming sense of failure that goes with it.
So I have started being honest. Saying "yes we would like another but we can't have anymore". Which you'd think would solve the issue. But no, because then people feel qualified to say "well at least you have one" or "at least you know you can get pregnant". Which is fabulous because not only can I not have more children, you are removing my right to grieve about it because I should be lucky with what I have. I am thankful every day for my daughter - but being thankful for her and hurting because I can't have another isn't mutually exclusive.
At some point we will have to call time on this journey. Because I cannot keep getting to January and throwing away another calendar that doesn't have scan dates and midwife appointments written on it. But it is a hell of a decision to make and I reserve the right to cry, shout and scream. To be irrational about things. To get upset when I read yet another pregnancy announcement.
Secondary fertility is something that no-one wants, no-one expects and no-one talks about. But we should. We really should.