One of the biggest gifts you could give yourself in life is the gift of a new baby. A new baby signifies the next step in your adulthood. It’s you and your partner taking on the world together with a little piece of immortality that represents everything that you are as a couple and as parents. It’s exciting; everyone around you comes together to celebrate the newest life in the world and all they want for you is for you to be proud and happy of the child you are going to raise. You get through those turbulent newborn days, those challenging first months and before you know it, you have a walking, talking toddler on your hands. That toddler is adorable, but you may find yourself thinking about those newborn days. The days before they could climb the bookcase and before they could tell you no when you want to snuggle with them. A newborn baby is a bundle of possibility and chance, and there is a moment a few months after birth, sometimes a couple of years later, when you are ready for those turbulent times again. After all, a brand-new life is just so worth it. Marveling at those tiny fingers and toes that you built from scratch? That’s priceless.
So, you start trying. It’s extremely fun (of course) and you spend every month waiting to see whether the stick is going to turn positive or whether you need to pop another box of tampons into the bathroom cupboard. It should be easy, right? You’ve already got one baby; proof of your virility as a couple. You’ve been pregnant. You’ve had the heartburn and the restless legs, and the exhaustion and you are really ready to experience that all over again. But it just isn’t happening, and it’s frustrating. You may hear comments like:
- “You already have one, be grateful for that.”
- “At least you know you can get pregnant.”
- “Imagine how it feels to not have ever had a child, and you have.”
Secondary infertility is probably a term you’re not familiar with yet, but if you have been trying for another child for over a year and just nothing is happening, it is heartbreaking. It defines couples who already have one or more children but cannot – for whatever reason – seem to fall pregnant with another. Clinics like MCRMFertility.com are able to help couples who cannot conceive, but most couples who are suffering secondary infertility tend not to ask for help until a lot longer than a year of trying. It’s important to know that there is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to secondary infertility. It doesn’t matter whether you have one or more children already; it doesn’t lessen the pain of being unable to conceive another child. You can’t listen to people saying that your pain is nothing just because you already have a child. It’s like someone with MRKH saying, “at least you have a womb”. Someone, somewhere out there is always going to have it worse than you do, but that doesn’t lessen your own troubles.
Coping with infertility is hard, especially when you can see what you are missing. Every day, your toddler is becoming older and more independent, moving further away from the tiny baby that they once were and into an independent pre-schooler. The thing is, a lot of people haven’t even heard of secondary infertility. The word ‘infertility’ makes people think of those who can’t have children at all, not people who have children already but struggle on for any more. Infertility is actually defined as the inability – even temporarily – to have a child. Going for tests and discovering that there is no physical reason for infertility (known as unexplained infertility) can feel much worse. To have no conceivable reason that a conception hasn’t happened is frustrating, upsetting and can spiral into depression. It means that you can try all the things you want to try, but it doesn’t guarantee anything because nothing is physically wrong.
Struggling with secondary infertility is not something that should be done alone. Wanting more than one child is not a bad thing and trying to have more children is not something that should ever be brushed to one side. You need a strong support system of cheerleaders cheering you on to your goals. You need to know that once you do finally make it to the finish line and conceive, you’re not going to hear the ‘I told you so’ platitudes. It’s important that while you are trying for a baby, you are living a healthy lifestyle with diet, exercise and a certain amount of self-care practised. It’s an emotional rollercoaster of a journey which sometimes ends in you needing a little extra help, be it IUI, ICSI or IVF. You shouldn’t be afraid to pay for the help if it’s what you truly want and needing help a second time shouldn’t be overshadowed by the fact that you didn’t need help the first time round, either. With secondary infertility, you know exactly what it means to feel hollow. Your body has already previously carried and nurtured a child, and that ache in the womb becomes a physical feeling.
Feeling selfish when trying for a second child is also completely natural. When you tried successfully the first time around, the only needs you had to consider were your own and those of your partner. You didn’t have a toddler around, while this time, that’s what you’ve got. You have to force your feelings down for the sake of the child you have, which can lead to internal emotional conflict and a desperation that you just didn’t have the first time. Secondary infertility sucks, and there’s no beating about the bush about it. You need to ask for help. Don’t feel guilty for having a child and feeling that there’s nothing to complain about. You have to fight for what you want, that beautiful baby you are picturing included.