Dear Ovia, Dreams of a big family

Dear Ovia is an ongoing series where we answer your love and relationship questions. To submit a question, send us a message on Instagram. We answer all questions anonymously.

Dear Ovia, My husband and I have been trying for a third kid for the last year and a half. He wants to stop trying and says it’s taking away from us appreciating the beautiful babies we do have. But I’ve always dreamed of a big family and I don’t feel ready to give that up. 

First of all, secondary infertility isn’t something we talk about enough — and I hope this answer helps you know for certain that you’re not alone! 

So many families hesitate to talk about fertility struggles. And when you’re already parents you may feel the social pressure to just be grateful for the kiddos you have (which I am sure you are!). I’m here to tell you that feeling like there is an empty seat at your family’s table is a valid feeling whether you have 0, 1, 2, 3 or 9 children. The tough part is that you’re both having valid feelings — and they’re not the same. There may be middle ground in taking a break from TTC for a period of time or continuing to try for “X” number of months before starting a break. 

At the end of the day, it sounds like expanding your family is something that would make you both happy if it could happen with the wave of a wand. So, try to focus your conversations with him around the challenges of the journey (the process of TTC), rather than the destination (the decision to have another baby).

In any case, you need an ongoing and open dialogue, but it can be hard to find a good and private time to talk (especially when you have other children in the house). It’s common for people to either avoid tough subjects or to bring them up at times that are not conducive to conversation (like when you’re getting into bed). 

If you’re avoiding the conversation or one of you is bringing it up at less-than-ideal times, it’s essential that you create a space where you can both actively listen to each other. Try scheduling some time to talk, that way you can both come to the conversation prepared to share and listen. 

Having a disagreement hanging over your heads makes the whole situation more stressful.

Some tips:

  • Avoid talking about it before bed when everyone is tired and sex is on the table. 
  • Sometimes a drive is helpful because you have a little bit of emotional distance, can break endless eye contact, and sex is (usually) off the table. 
  • Agreeing on how to move forward may take more than one discussion, but it should be simple to make a plan for more chats. Breathe, you’ve got this. 
  • Fertility journeys start, pause, and end for a variety of reasons, and it often takes a toll. It’s always okay to look for more support from family, friends, or professionals. 

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