My husband and I have been trying to have a baby for 17 consecutive cycles.
Really we have tried for longer than that – back in the summer of 2019, when my son Calvin had just turned 3, we tried a few times to get pregnant, but decided to stop because I ended up needing foot surgery. (Calvin is now 5 years old.)
About 7 months ago (March 3, 2021), I told my doctor at my annual gynecologist appointment that I was concerned about possible fertility issues. Literally yesterday (September 21, 2021 as of writing this) we had an appointment with a men’s fertility specialist, who wants to run more tests, and then possibly refer us to a different fertility specialist (for me) if we end up needing to pursue treatments like IUI or IVF. We were warned that it will most likely take between *6-12 months to get in to see this particular specialist.
At that point, it will be somewhere between 2 and 2.5 years that we will have been trying to have a baby, and we will only just be going to our initial appointment with the last specialist we need to see.
My advice for anyone who thinks they may be having fertility issues: don’t wait any longer than you have to before getting some tests done – you can always cancel the tests/appointments if you end up getting pregnant. I had no idea it could be this long of a process just to actually get the problem narrowed down and get in to the doctors I need to see. I’m not sure if that’s because there is a shortage of fertility specialists (there are none in Abilene) or if fertility problems are becoming more common, but it’s definitely been discouraging to think that we might not even be able to begin to pursue some of these treatments until Fall of 2022 (when I will be close to 36 years old.)
Honestly, I’m not totally sure if I really want to pursue treatments like IUI or IVF. Secondary infertility is a weird position to be in. If we had no children, I think perhaps I would want to try it. But we do have one, and when I think about the costs and (probably low) success rates associated with these kinds of invasive treatments, I’m just not sure it will be the right choice for us.
I feel like a lot of people don’t know how to respond when I tell them we are having trouble having a second child. Sometimes I get answers like, “at least you have one kid!” I don’t recommend saying this to anyone who is trying to get pregnant with their second. I’m very thankful we have Calvin and that we got pregnant so quickly with him. But it’s totally okay and valid for me to want a bigger family. That doesn’t make me a selfish person. I can be thankful and longing for more at the same time.
The most helpful and supportive things people have said to me, I’ve listed below:
- “We are praying for you every day.”
- “That is so heartbreaking to go through.”
- “How did your appointment go? Do you want to talk about it?”
- “Calvin is a great kid.”
- “You’re a good mom.”
I put those last two in there because it’s nice to hear those things instead of, “when are you going to give Calvin a sibling?” or “do you guys think you’ll have any more kids?” These questions make me feel like others view my family as incomplete, or not good enough.
And just for the record, I’ve adopted a new rule that I think others would do well to do the same: I never ask anyone if they want to have kids, or if they want to have more kids. One day not too long ago, I got asked this question 3 different times by 3 different people, and it just about killed me. I felt like I could barely contain my feelings and wanted to just go home and cry. You never know what other people are dealing with, and about 1 out of every 8 couples is dealing with infertility. It’s practically a given that someone you know is struggling with this right now – a friend, a coworker, or a family member. Sometimes even family or close friends don’t let on that they are dealing with this, because it’s such a personal issue, and it can be extremely emotionally taxing to discuss.
Dealing with infertility has definitely taken a toll on me emotionally and mentally. I’ve gone to see my therapist about it frequently. Sometimes Dean and I go together, and sometimes it’s just me alone. Some months I feel hopeful and think that I’m pregnant, only to be crushed when my period starts. Then I feel angry that I allowed myself to hope. Angry that my prayers were not answered. Angry that I could be so naive to convince myself I was pregnant (again)!
I’ve watched friends get pregnant and have their babies in less time than I’ve been waiting just to see two lines on a pregnancy test. Honestly these were some of the hardest moments during this process. My joy for my friends is real, but sometimes that joy gets overtaken by feelings of grief, or even jealousy. And then it’s hard not to feel guilty for not wanting to celebrate with them at that moment. I’m learning not to feel guilty, but to acknowledge that I’m in a hard place, and I can simultaneously support my pregnant friends AND be dealing with my own grief. This is totally okay and normal, btw!
Some days I want to give up on having a second child. It’s too hard, and it hurts too much.
It can be hard on a marriage too. The emotional roller coaster of hoping and grieving every month can elevate the general levels of stress in a relationship. Sex can begin to lose its appeal, and become a chore – it can become associated with negative feelings, like feelings of failure or disappointment if you don’t end up pregnant.
For other people out there dealing with infertility of any kind, you’re not alone. Your feelings are valid. It’s hard. It sucks. It hurts. Give yourself time for extra self-care, however that may look for you. And know that if you need someone to talk to, I’m here.
Thanks for reading.
*I can confirm that their office said they aren’t taking any appointments until Fall of 2022 (so a year from now) – they don’t even make appointments that far out, so I’m on a waiting list just to get an appointment.