For many things in life, the second of something is often highly anticipated: the second album from a red-hot musician, the second Harry Potter book, the second Lay’s potato chip. For most of us in the infertility world, we don’t have any perception of the 2nd child, we are clawing tooth and nail for the first one. There are those out there though, that traveled through their first miracle seemingly unscathed to be overwhelmed by the long shadow of IF when they tried for #2. Fancy doctor folk call this “Secondary Infertility,” those in this situation, your friendly neighborhood OurMisconception writers included (albeit in a convoluted sense), call it being stuck in the void between two worlds- the world of infertility with no children and the world of families that did not struggle with infertility. Read about how Sarah realized that she had secondary infertility and how she has persevered. Thank you Sarah for sharing your story.
I’m a mommy, but I struggle with infertility. That doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, right? For those of you out there who have had to deal with secondary infertility, it does. But to the rest, if I have 1 child, then that automatically gives me the pass to have more. Not necessarily.
In February 2014, my period was a few days late. I had an IUD in at the time, so I did what most of us would do and started Googling “Can you get pregnant with an IUD in?” The conclusion was either yes, no, or I was to immediately call my doctor because I had symptoms of a more serious problem. All kidding aside, as the days went on, my husband and I became excited at the idea of another baby. It wasn’t something that we had been planning on because our, then 2 year old, son has medical issues and we had been completely absorbed in him. However, my period did arrive, but it really put the topic of another baby into the forefront of our minds, so in March of 2014, I had the IUD removed. Months went by without anything but a lot of false symptoms and each month when my period arrived, it was hard not to get upset since it seemed like everyone around me was getting pregnant. I couldn’t go on Facebook for fear of another pregnancy announcement (there was 12 in one month!). You see, I cannot relate to my mommy friends because I already have a child, so I should be happy about that. And I cannot relate to the women who don’t have any children who struggle with infertility because I already have a child, so I should be happy about that.
When April 2015 rolled around and our son turned 4, we decided to make an appointment to see an infertility doctor. I remember sitting in the doctor’s office, with tears in my eyes, as she discussed all of the tests, medications, and procedures. I just kept thinking to myself that I couldn’t believe that I was there. After preliminary rounds of testing, it was seen that everything on my end was textbook, except my thyroid level which was a little off, but nothing that can’t be fixed with medication. When it came to my husband’s SA, things became clear that there was an issue. Things weren’t looking so good and we were told that we would be perfect candidates for IUI. Our first procedure was scheduled for July 4th. We were optimistic and hopeful for our little firecracker, so when my period started 2 weeks later, it was probably my worst breakdown yet. I felt like the timing of everything could not have been any better, so why the heck did it not work? At my follow-up appointment, we came up with a game plan and prepared ourselves for IUI round #2, which was to take place at the end of July. Looking back, I knew everything just felt wrong about that cycle. Because the SA samples had been so poor, the doctor had us abstain from intercourse before the IUI. Good idea in theory, but because I’m pretty in tune with my body, I knew when I arrived on the morning of the procedure that I had already ovulated. Then add to it that I waited for over an hour in the waiting room while they prepped the sample, my nerves were shot. Come to find out, the whole thing almost had to be canceled because the sample was so terrible, but the nurse “worked some magic”, spun it down 4 times and somehow got enough to proceed. It wasn’t too shocking to me when my period arrived a few weeks later. That experience was a game changer for me and even though the doctor was now highly recommending we try IVF, something inside of my just kept saying to hand it over to God, because even though I like my doctor and she seems highly knowledgeable, I went against what my gut was telling me in order to follow her instructions.
This isn’t to say that I am now constantly at peace with this decision and that I am frolicking around in an open field like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, but redirecting my focus onto what I have instead of what I don’t has been life changing. I am currently working 1 less day each week to just have a full “Mommy and Me” day with my son, I am getting more involved at church, and I have even enrolled at a local university to finish my bachelor’s degree which I am extremely excited and proud of. This whole journey has given me some of the darkest days of my life and I was so ashamed to talk about it for so long, but opening up about it and telling our story has helped in the healing process. I do have my moments where I begin to grieve the loss of what might have been…a sibling for my son, the family that we have been dreaming about, and just the fact that my body has felt like a failure. However, I am holding out hope that we will be a family of 4 one day and that sharing all of this will bring more attention to secondary infertility. Because it’s real and it sucks, but nobody should have to go through it alone.