our family

Secondary Infertility: Our Story of Unsuccessfully Trying for Baby #2

17 cycles.

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.

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Max from "Where the Wild Things Are"

Let Yourself Have a Bad Day

“The healthiest way to approach tough emotions is to accept them. Instead of distracting yourself when you’re feeling sad, angry, guilty, or anxious, try taking a few deep breaths and naming the emotion.”

A Healthier Happy by Ginny Graves in Real Simple’s special edition The Power of Positivity

Most of the time, I do okay with the fact that I’m not yet pregnant. I have space to manage all of the emotions that come over me in waves. There’s a touch of disappointment every time my period starts, despite being mentally prepared for it. There’s a bit of a sting every time a different friend tells me they are pregnant. And yet there’s still a bit of hope that I maintain for myself in the midst of all of it. 

But today has been a hard day, rounding out a hard week. I usually have the capacity to deal with the little emotional hits to some extent, but the hits have kept coming this week. It’s like I’ve got no safety barrier left – no cushion left to soften the blow. There’s no time to recover before the next hit comes. 

Last week started with a friend texting me to tell me she was pregnant. She was sensitive to my feelings, and I appreciated her sharing with me rather than hiding it. But it still hurt a bit. I was able to find space to hold all my emotions at once, feeling excited for her while simultaneously feeling grief for myself. Sometimes I feel like an emotional plate-spinner, or maybe a juggler or something. 

My period started three days later. I knew it most likely would. The signs were there, I just always hope that maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this will be the one time I’m wrong. Please, let me be wrong. 

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Membership to the Infertility Club

My period started today.

That makes 12 months in a row of being acutely aware of each time my period begins.

My husband and I have hit the “one-year-of-trying-to-conceive” milestone, which also means we get the consolation prize of getting to join the infertility club.

Infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying (depending on your age, the timeframe for qualifying as “infertile” may differ a bit.)

I never imagined I would be here. With my first child, we got pregnant in the second month of trying. Afterwards I literally said out loud, “I can’t imagine having to try over and over, month after month…”

Maybe I jinxed myself.

It’s weird to hit the point where you’ve been trying to have a baby longer than it actually takes to have a baby.

Around the 10-month mark of trying for a second child, I went to my annual gynecologist appointment. I mentioned that I wanted to start looking into why we weren’t getting pregnant. This meant doing some testing on my husband and I, and coming back in a month to have the doctor review the results.

A month later we found out there was a reason why it wasn’t happening quickly. We also found out it was something that (at this point) we couldn’t really do much about (we have some more follow up appointments, so we will see). Basically we were told we were doing everything right, but that there was an extenuating circumstance that made our chances of conceiving much less.

In some ways this was validating – I had been doing stuff right. The timing of intercourse, the charting of my cycles… I understood how my body worked, and in *most couples, it probably would have meant a pregnancy by now.

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