Five hundred and fifty-eight days.
July 01, 2011

Donald and I have been trying to conceive a second child for eighteen months.  A year and a half.  Or about five hundred and fifty-eight days.  Not that anyone’s counting.

When you are hoping for a miracle, five hundred and fifty-eight days is a very long time.  That is thousands of fleeting daydreams.  Hundreds of curious moments.  Dozens of days with your hands laid upon your belly, falling asleep to a wish.  It is five hundred and fifty-eight days of what-ifs and five hundred and fifty-eight days of thinking about names and five hundred and fifty-eight days of looking at your child, your brightest light, wondering what would be the same and what would be different.

Five hundred and fifty-eight days of feeling elated, dizzy with possibility.  Five hundred and fifty-eight days of feeling barren, frustrated by the emptiness of a womb.  Five hundred and fifty-eight days of feeling guilty for even caring.

Looking at my daughter, I know these were some of the best five hundred and fifty-eight days of my life.  She is well loved, my Charlotte; there can be no doubt of that.  Looking at another negative pregnancy test, hanging my head between my knees at the thought of another month of this nightmare, I think these were some of the worst five hundred and fifty-eight days of my life.

Yesterday my period started.  Again.  I have a memory from years ago about laughing that at that time in my life my period was the worst part of my life – but that one day when I wanted children it would be the best.  Every month I bleed and I remember that joke, those foolish words.

I think: this isn’t the best part at all.

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  1. By melody on July 01, 2011

    I feel your pain.  In a few days I turn 33 and I’m realizing my personal deadline of 35 is fast approaching.  My son tuened 2 recently and we’ve been trying for a year to have another only to have a loss last fall.  I’ll be seeing a specialist soon, not butting all my bets on another miracle.

  2. By on July 01, 2011

    —>You should give yourselves a break to take the pressure off and see if that helps?

  3. By on July 01, 2011

    Sarah, my heart goes out to you and Donald. Words seem inadequate.

  4. By missjoules on July 01, 2011

    Oh dear Sarah, I am so very sorry. I am sending you lots of virtual hugs.

  5. By Sarah@crazylovegamblestyle on July 01, 2011

    Oh Sarah my heart hurts for you. I am one of the lucky ones, I feel so blessed. I hate fertility issues, it is so unfair that people that really want a baby can’t get pregnant right when they want to. I truly believe your wait is going to come to an end soon & you will get pregnant with your next little miracle. Hang in there, I know this sucks. Try to focus on what you have & what you desperately want will come soon. Relax, let it all go, I know many people that were able to get pregnant when they finally stopped trying so hard.

  6. By JJ on July 01, 2011

    When you are ready to have a baby (or a second) time seems to operate differently than it ever has before. I feel your pain—we waited over 2 years for our first, and we arent sure we will ever have another. Makes you really super grateful for the little people that are in our life :)
    I wish you the best.

  7. By JM on July 01, 2011

    So sorry to hear you and Donald are experiencing secondary infertility- an inability to become pregnant is no fair at all, whether you have children already or not. My husband and I have been trying for 2 1/2 years now. I know it will happen one day- I just wish that day were already here.

    Good luck to you both, and don’t be afraid to seek help! Sometimes it’s complicated, but others it’s something simple that can be corrected in no time. Best wishes!

  8. By on July 01, 2011

    Just think of the words you would give to a woman in your situation. Think of the kindness and support you would send to her and the reminder that it’s not selfish to want another child, no matter how many you already have.

    Now turn those words into your heart and give yourself the same support. I’m sending you a huge cyber hug, in case you’re having a hard time giving yourself one…

  9. By on July 01, 2011

    I felt the same way too, and I went to see a fertility therapist to talk about it. She said something that made me feel better. She said, psychologically speaking, studies have shown that it is better to have 5 years difference between children. She said that you can better manage your time between the two at that age difference, and there is less competition between them as they grow up.

    Sure, my time is running out (sort of, I’m only 33 but I’m not getting any younger) but I am so happy to be able to dedicate 100% of my time to James. It’s good for him, and for me, and for us as a family. It may mean that my family will be smaller, but it also means that I can truly live through each experience with all my attention on him.

    So many of my friends have had back to back children, and I see that their life is so chaotic. Children are being ignored because of the needs of others. In the end it may not make a huge heck of a difference. But I’d like to think that it does make a difference. Or maybe that’s my way of coping…

  10. By CrysHouse on July 01, 2011

    I’ve been lurking on your blog for a while and thought I’d take this time to post a comment.

    I totally get you.  My husband and I have been trying for 6 1/2 years to have a baby.  We got pregnant once and lost that child at 10 weeks.  It sucks to wait.  And every time a period comes, it’s the same cycle over again:  knowing you shouldn’t hope and finding yourself there anyway.  I hate it.  But at the same time I love the possibility.

  11. By on July 01, 2011

    Sarah, I am so sorry you are struggling with having a second child. My husband and I had hoped to have our children very close together, and I remember how hard it was as each month passed and I wasn’t pregnant.
    I was unable to conceive again until my first was completely weaned. We started actively trying to have a second child when our first was 6 months old. It wasn’t until our first was 14 months old and completely weaned that I conceived again. My first was down to just nursing in the evening, but it wasn’t until that feeding stopped and my milk production ended that I was able to conceive. I have 4 children and between all of them I was unable to conceive until the previous was completely weaned. I breastfed all of them until they were between 12-15 months old.

  12. By on July 01, 2011

    I am so humbled by your post and the comments above. We’ve been trying for six months to get pregnant with baby #2. Six months seems like a drop in the bucket compared to your struggle and for some of the other women here. I should relish this time with just my sweet Jericho, but instead I pine away for a baby that isn’t.

  13. By on July 01, 2011

    Sarah, I feel for you and am so sorry it is taking this long for your little family to grow. I feel like I am on the opposite side, where I got pregnant when my daughter was only 7 months old and (I hate to admit it) but was pretty bummed about it. I feel like I love my daughter so much and I am so dedicated to her and want to spend every single second of my life and day with her that how am I supposed to share my time (and love) with another child? The two girls will be 17 months apart and am just now started to feel excited about it and confident that we can do this as a family. It is tough though, we waiting awhile with the first one and you get anxious, and upset every month, but I feel like I missed out on the “what if this is the time” excited feeling the 2nd time around.

    I wish you and your family all the best, it will happen soon :)

  14. By on July 01, 2011

    Oh Sarah! I am right there with you. My daughter is almost 19 months and we started trying as soon as my period came back, about 5 months ago. Every negative test is a lesson in patience and I am jealous of all my currently pregnant friends.

    good luck and all we can do is hug the little ones and keep trying.

  15. By Sheila on July 01, 2011

    Hugs.  I’m in the same boat—my son is 15 months old and we’ve wanted another for awhile.  My cycle’s been back for six months, but still no dice.  He’s still nursing a lot, so I guess that might be why ... I don’t really know.

    I feel guilty for wanting another baby so badly, when I have THREE friends who want one and don’t have any.  I never know whether or not I should mention it to them; I’m afraid they would resent me.

    It’s just, I KNOW how wonderful it is.  I feel so strongly that having two would be even better.  To hold a newborn again, for my son to have a playmate, all of these things.

    And with every month that goes by, I think, “If it takes 15 months to get pregnant after every baby, that means I can only have x number of kids before menopause.“  Every couple of months, I “lose” another potential kid!  Silly, but there it is.  We both want a lot, and I can’t imagine how I would feel if this was the only one!  Not that he isn’t “enough” but ... I do want more.

  16. By christy on July 01, 2011

    i remember when you posted that you guys were trying for #2 so had been curious.  i actually have a friend who weaned her daughter at 1 yr old i think because she wanted child 2 faster.  do you think still breastfeeding has anything to do with it??

    either way i wish you the best!  i know you want loads of kids and quickly so i hope you guys get that! 

    p.s. i liked what MC said abouve though, i actually intentionally want 5 yrs between my kids.

  17. By Catherine on July 01, 2011

    I’m so sorry, Sarah.  I know how you feel.  :(

  18. By Sarah Christensen on July 01, 2011

    Thank you for the support everyone; it is nice not to feel alone.  It’s a hard balance between loving Charlotte and feeling grateful for her and appreciative of her meanwhile longing for another.

    Christy - Donald and I had some trouble with conceiving Charlotte (and miscarrying), and I’m sure that it’s possible that we could be experiencing the same thing again right now, but I would be very surprised if breastfeeding did not play a role.  I still nurse Charlotte several times a day.

    MC - I have a book that talks about the biology of lactation and fertility.  The science according to that book and various anthropological studies seems to point to a spacing of 3-7 years being ‘optimal’ for sibling relationships, parental resources (including maternal bodily resources), etc.  So there may be some truth in what you’ve been told.  I think that this is, in some respects, the difference that living in a developed nation has afforded us.  Our bodies are not as stressed by pregnancy, delivery, or recovery.  Our children are healthier.  Our resources are not stretched as thin.  Etc.  I wonder what I would think about this situation had I been raised in a society that practiced natural weaning and fertility management?  I suspect that I’d more readily accept larger gaps between siblings as a normal spacing.  It’s an interesting thought.

  19. By Lindsey on July 01, 2011

    Damn it ALL I just love you. I know I don’t know you but I seriously respect you and how you approach & respond to the people who reach out to you online. You don’t shoot others down and you don’t invalidate them. At almost every turn you are open to others ideas and opinions while seemingly always being true to who you are and your family. You & Rebecca Woolf of GGC are two of my favorite writers in that respect. On top of which, your writing is funny, smart, at times whimsical & always interesting. You are TOPS in my book!

    In regards to trying for a 2nd, I have faith that it will happen for you guys…and I know it doesn’t fully make you feel better, but hooray for all the bc-free sex to be had! Hugs to you & yours & the yet-to-bes that will be chasing each around, screaming & laughing soon enough :)

  20. By andrea on July 01, 2011

    everyone’s experience is so different. there’s no text book right and wrong. i love that no family is exactly the same…we have the same number of kids, but different ages. It’s hard to understand but God does have a plan for your family and He knows the big picture. You are a fabulous mommy. thank you for inspiring me daily to seek joy as a mom.  you will have another baby(s). i can relate to the waiting too…29 plus months since we applied to adopt as having my own wasn’t a possibility for our last baby. as each month rolls into the next, tears come and i cannot bare the wait any longer. thanks for your honesty…so encouraging!

  21. By on July 01, 2011

    I am sorry about your angst around this subject, but you are still making a choice with regard to continuing to breastfeed and pump and donate milk.  If you want a child that badly stop breastfeeding.  It’s pretty simple.  If you want something different to happen, you need to do something different.

  22. By on July 01, 2011

    Sarah, I’m sorry for your struggles . Of course you want another baby - mostly for Charlotte, nothing ungrateful about that.  I feel your pain - it took us 10 years to get my twins & when they were 6 months I was unexpectedly expecting. I never dreamt I would be blessed again - especially since it took us so long plus I just turned 40! Everyone has their own journey - and it’s your very own - people tend to give you all kinds of advice ...and until they’ve walked in your shoes ...well take it with a grain of salt!
    I follow your blog bc you are an amazing mother - you can tell in the way you describe the little things about your precious C. Keep the faith - it’ll happen :-)  I can attest to that…

  23. By on July 01, 2011

    I’m sure I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know… but I’m pregnant with our second… while I’m thrilled to be extending our family a part of me is having a hard time facing the fact that in a matter or months the one on one time that I have with Jude will change drastically.

    Soak up the time that you have… just imagine how little gardening you’ll get done when you have TWO sheep dogs climbing on your back!

  24. By Sarah Christensen on July 01, 2011

    Rebecca - There are a variety of options that are available to us:
        -  We can wean, but both Donald and I have very strong feelings against doing so at this time.  We belong to a family wherein several of Charlotte’s cousins were weaned well past toddlerhood and as a result when Charlotte was born we were unyielding on the point that we wanted her to wean on her own, no earlier than 2.5 years.  I knew going into this that 2.5 years as a minimum was a long time and my husband and I agree that we refuse to compromise that goal and Charlotte’s breastfeeding relationship for a child that may be conceived - but may also not be conceived.  So we can wean, but we will not.
        -  We can submit to medication that alters how my body deals with lactation and ovulation.  But we won’t do that either - as someone who takes aspirin once every two or three years, I’m not comfortable taking any medications that are not absolutely necessary.
        -  We can more closely chart my menstrual cycle and ensure that we are having sex at precisely the most optimal times.  Our experience with this, however, has been quite negative.  When we chart (mucus, temperature, the whole nine yards) and then we do not conceive, my natural inclination is to blame myself.  I become very withdrawn, very moody, very tense, very ashamed, and very difficult to live with.  Furthermore, when we focus on having sex for baby-making purposes, we lose something.  It’s a less gratifying experience and we start to bicker more and have sex on off-times less frequently.  So we could be more diligent about timing and charting, but we won’t do that either.
        -  We can also submit to fertility testing and treatments.  Given our difficulties and our history before Charlotte’s conception, we were given the option to pursue fertility treatment.  After discussing it, we declined.  At the time, Donald and I both felt that if the door was closing on natural conception, we would just fast track our adoption plans.  We have known for years that adoption is in our future; moving the date that we start the search for our children up a few years hardly seems impossible.  So we could pursue fertility testing and treatment, but we will not.

    We have a reasonable idea of what may be causing us to not conceive - but since we had trouble conceiving Charlotte, we also know that there may be factors beyond breastfeeding that are playing a role.  At this point, Donald and I both feel that the only options we are willing to consider for expanding our family are: a) natural conception, and b) adoption.

    Luckily, our options are not mutually exclusive and we do not favor one over the other, but since one of us still favors an attempt to naturally conceive, we will continue with those efforts until we both agree that we would like to stop.  The thing is, though, and I think that this is significant: understanding why we are not conceiving, standing by those decisions, and being familiar with our alternatives does not diminish the aching sadness that comes with failing where you have pinned your hopes.  It is not so simple as just doing something differently to achieve different results.  It is a factor of knowing which things we are willing to do differently (i.e. we are willing to sacrifice pregnancy, but not willing to sacrifice breastfeeding) and, given that, knowing at what point failing to conceive becomes too detrimental to our family fabric to continue.  I am not sad that we are not pregnant; I am sad that we are failing to give Charlotte a sibling, failing to further build our family, failing to provide for one another the dream we said we would.  If we decided tomorrow to abandon all of our attempts to conceive, I would likely mourn each month that adoption did not prove fruitful.  I believe that we live in a pronatal society and as such, I do not think that the emotions relative to family planning are quite so simple as you have made them.  Personally, I find failure to conceive heartwrenching at best.

  25. By Dandy on July 01, 2011

    I had been curious but I didn’t want to ask.  The pressure can’t help the situation at all… but how can you control the wanting and hoping, you know?

    I have no words to make you feel better… but I do hope you do.

  26. By Lis on July 02, 2011

    Just sending love. <3

  27. By on July 02, 2011

    Sarah, I hate it for you. We started trying to get pregnant again when Max was just shy of two. He was four when Allison was born. Those were the longest months of my entire life, the trying and hoping and wanting and tears and negative tests and trying so hard not to feel resentful of all of the people it was so easy for while at the same time being so excited for them. It was like time exploded all over the place and left a permanent mess to be dealt with. I hope it happens for you.

  28. By Weekend Cowgirl on July 02, 2011

    Sarah, my daughter in law went through this so I know how each days feels like a lifetime. Hopefully, when you least expect it you will recieve a blessing. My DIL did everything and when got off of all RX and decided not to try any longer then she found herself pregnant.

  29. By on July 02, 2011

    In reference to the rebecca/sarah conversation - I know a number of women who nurse/d a toddler multiple times a day (including myself) and were still able to conceive without a problem. At the time we conceived our second, I was nursing at least three times a day. I’m no doctor, but chances are whatever slowed conception the first time around is probably the culprit.

    I give you a lot of credit Sarah for sticking to your values given your desire for another child - and understanding that there are other options outside of conceiving your own biological child for extending your family.

  30. By on July 02, 2011

    Peace and well wishes to you Sarah, Donald and Charlotte. I read your posts and think that you are certainly an amazing woman, mother and wife. Donald and Charlotte are so blessed to have you - and you, them.

  31. By on July 02, 2011

    Failure to conceive brings on such complex emotions. I wouldn’t even know how to describe it, other than to say I have failed; even though, in reality, I have not. Pregnancy is an unreasonable goal to set because it is a complicated process you have very little control over. And by setting that goal, you set yourself up for failure, and the feelings of failure.

    Setting a goal to have a bigger family is reasonable because it can be achieved through various means (including adoption). But a goal to get pregnant is simply unrealistic. The fact that you attempt it every month leads to feelings of failure on a continual basis.

    I think the solution to your problem is to change your goal. Your goal is to provide a loving and nurturing home for your daughter. Your goal is to uphold your values regardless of obstacles that stand in your way. Your goal is to have a healthy sex life with your husband. And you have reached all those goals where many others have not. You should be proud of yourself. And you should feel like a success.

    Easier said than done.

  32. By kbreints on July 03, 2011

    I am so sorry. I was very blessed to have my children happen as soon as I wanted them—however I have many friends that did not have such an easy time. I hope that you see that positive sign soon-

    I have been voting for you—and those photos of you are your daughter are adorable.

  33. By Leslie Crane on July 03, 2011

    I can’t think of many people who deserve to have tons and tons of babies more than you two. Keep on trying, it’ll happen when it’s meant to :)

  34. By elizabeth Mackey on July 03, 2011

    Maybe winning my little giveaway is a good omen :)

    I’ll be thinking good thoughts for you and your lovely family.
    I voted for you, and I’ll keep coming back to vote again, because you deserve to be at least in the top five girl!!!!

  35. By StephBucher on July 03, 2011

    I read your blog daily, but don’t often comment. I am sorry to hear of your fertility issues. Those are something I know very well. Its taken me 2 years, 2 losses, and fertility treatments to reach where I am now. I’m currently 13w pregnant! I know the pain, the despair, the heartache, the emptiness and the longing so well, and I hate to see anyone else go through that. You will be in my thoughts as you continue the journey to give your beautiful daughter a sibling!

  36. By Taryn on July 04, 2011

    I’m so happy to read this (though of course sad for you)- we’ve been trying for a second for several months with no success yet, and it seems like everyone- EVERYONE- around me is pregnant. So it’s nice to have someone put into words the frustrations and heartbreak that I’m feeling.
    And I totally agree with you on the breastfeeding issue, my little mothersucker is still going strong at 17 months, and even if that’s the reason we’re struggling, we’re not even close to weaning time yet.
    Fingers crossed for you!!

  37. By Megan R. on July 04, 2011

    It took us 6 years to successfully conceive and then go on to deliver our miracle baby, Finnley.  1 year of trying “naturally”, and 5 years of off and on again fertility treatments.  I never conceived the old fashioned way, and we suffered 3 miscarriages along the way.  It is a heart-wrenching journey, but one we were glad to have taken, as our lives would not be nearly as complete without our precious little girl.  .  We are not tempting fate by trying to have another child, though, even if it means that we are leaving Finnley without a sibling (my pregnancy and post-pregnancy were also VERY difficult, and I am not sure that my body could even “manage” another pregnancy).  So, I feel your frustration with the situation, and I understand the mixed emotions that go along with it.  I wish you luck and peace as you move forward with your attempts to grow your family.  Only you and Donald can know what is best for you and your family.

  38. By Sally on July 04, 2011

    Dear Sarah, I’ve been reading your blog since Charlotte was about 6 months old, and I love your honesty, your humour and reading about the beautiful life you make for and with your family.
    Not being able to have a child, when you want one and have so much more love to give is heartbreaking. I hope that soon you will be able to add to your family with another squirming bundle of love, joy, light and giggles. May this time of discouragement only serve to knit you, Donald and Charlotte closer together as you face whatever adventures lie ahead.

  39. By carolina on July 05, 2011

    i love your authenticity, so thank you for that.

  40. By tara pollard pakosta on July 05, 2011

    I hope and pray you get a brother or sister for charlotte very SOON! it’s so hard!! for our 2nd one we only tried 4 months, but now she is going to be 10 years old this month and we have NEVER been able to have that 3rd baby we have been trying to have, well we actually gave up on that about 2 years ago because I turned 40, but we did try on and off for 8 years. I even tried some medicines, but it made me crazy…hope you get a 2nd one!!!

  41. By on July 05, 2011

    Thanks for sharing Sarah, it means so much.

    My husband and I have been undergoing infertility treatments for over a year. I don’t have any biological children, my husband has a daughter, 18, from his previous marriage.

    To the folks that say “Just relax and it will happen”, yikes that probably the worst comment that folks make. It infers that there is something different that we should do, when we have already tried every avenue possible.

    I know folks don’t mean any harm, but a simple “I’m sorry you are going through this” is a perfectly sweet, simple way to show somone that you care.

  42. By on July 05, 2011

    So sorry to hear you’re going through this.  It must be very frustrating for you.  I have a 20-month-old I’m still nursing, and I haven’t even gotten my period back yet, so I don’t even bother thinking about #2.  I can imagine how upsetting it must be to get your period every month and be aware of the passing of month after month and not being pregnant.

  43. By Sarah on July 05, 2011

    hang in there babe. I am sending lots of babymaking vibes your way. you and your husband are such awesome parents putting what you know is best for your daughter above your wants. love you!

  44. By Mrs. Q. on July 07, 2011

    This broke my heart. How awful it is to realize that the one thing you really want is the one thing you tried like hell to avoid in your younger years. The universe can be cruel.

    Sending happy thoughts and positive vibes your way…

  45. By on July 09, 2011

    Roughly 2916 days for us.

    I wanted a baby from day 1. We took breaks through out the process. You have to. We stopped trying when we officially started the adoption process. The adoption isn’t complete yet but it looks really good. I am sure I will want another but my heart is starting to feel whole knowing we will have a little one in the house.

    I feel your pain with all my heart!

  46. By Rachel on July 27, 2011

    ACCUPUNCTURE!!!!  It took me 5 years to get pregnant - 6 failed rounds of IUI, 1 failed round of IVF, and a failed attempts at adoption.  It only took one month of accupuncture.





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