Secondary infertility is one of those issues that so many of us have no idea exists, I know I didn’t, until I thought it might be happening to me, was I struggling with secondary infertility?
You have your first baby and are joyfully reassured that you can reproduce (I think a lot of us worry that we might be infertile till we actually start trying and see those two red lines.) I got lucky and conceived Isabelle, my first and only child, within the first month of really trying, by really trying I mean actually looking and when I should be fertile within the month and well – you can guess the rest.
When Isabelle turned a year old me and my husband decided it was time to start trying for our second. We naively expected a similar spout of luck and were let down when we saw the first negative pregnancy test. But then came the next, and the next, and the next at 6 months I was worried and booked my first doctors appointment. I’ve got to say I got completely fobbed off – ‘Oh you conceived one you’ll be fine, don’t be so impatient.’ After having a rocky birth and worrying my insides down there were left totally wrecked I pushed for an appointment with a gynecologist.
The gynecologist was a better experience. Wildly uncomfortable, but better. He examined inside my cervix, used ultrasound to check for PCO (Polycystic ovaries) and send of a swab just to be sure. And the end of the appointment he came to the same conclusion as the doctor. Having conceived before there is no medical reason that he could find for us to be struggling, but he assured me by offering me a hormone boosting injection to get me ovulating (HCG) if we hit the year mark with no results. It was after this experience that I started to really look into fertility problems after successfully conceiving a child already.
Some reasons were fairly obvious to me,
You and your partner are older
Your weight has changed dramatically
But the scariest thing of all as I found a common theme among many articles – We really don’t know why a huge proportion of women are infertile the second time around.
There is so much emotion that comes with trying to conceive and failing. I was never a career woman, I found my calling when I became a mother and I found it a knock to my pride when I worried that I wouldn’t conceive a second. Every negative pregnancy test mocked me (You can’t be that suited to motherhood if you cant even conceive.) Everyone tells you to try not to think about it, to stress less and you’ll get there, but I found my way to goggle instead and read and read and read, I educated myself on everything to do with conceiving, body temperatures, cervical mucus, you name it.
Then came my second hurdle. Book after book, article after article stressed how important all these things are, I even had an app on my phone (its actually really good, called Ovia) that would e-mail me asking me if I’d had intercourse, my husband found that hysterical… But the second hurdle – Timing your sex life to fit this advice yet trying to keep it well, sexy. This was a huge struggle for me. I felt like I was on my own, I knew all this and how important intercourse really was while ovulating (duh,) but when my husband came back from work after a rubbish day and really couldn’t find the energy to have a chat let alone get busy it would fall on me, to up my mood and act as though this hadn’t became a job and work on his mood too, of course being married you support each other anyway but going from foul mood to sexy was work, work that I couldn’t always be bothered with. It was draining. I would find that when I wasn’t ovulating, when I was sure I wasn’t, I almost wanted to avoid sex because I had started to associate it with work.
Not only is it stressful but (perhaps understandably so) people don’t react to struggling to have a second child like they might struggling to have your first. We heard a lot of ‘Oh well you have one.’ and ‘Imagine if you couldn’t have ANY.’ which yes, would have been a whole lot worse I’m not kidding myself. I still got to be a mother. But struggling with secondary infertility and wanting a second child and not getting it can be so, so difficult emotionally. For me there was moments when I wanted to let go, to stop trying, but then how could I because wanting a second child isn’t something I could just get over… I felt like there was definitely an expectation that I should though. I felt like I had very little support.
What helped through this was medical intervention, I would recommend anyone struggling, don’t listen to the time frames people tell you to wait, a year, six months, three months, if you feel like you are in need of help – Ask for it. Yes you might be told to wait till the six month mark or year mark but you can then ask okay, well what would be the plan then? I never knew if the injections would work but feeling like someone was listening, someone had a step two for me helped.
Try and take each day at a time and not wish away the days till your next ovulation, your next pregnancy test, I know its easier said than done. Trust me I know.