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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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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5 Ways I’m Coping While Waiting for Pregnancy

2020 has been a year that has given us so many reminders of how little control we really have in any situation. We like to pretend that we have our lives totally planned out, that we will be able to do what we want to do when we want to do it.

But then, SURPRISE! Life never works out that way.

Over a year ago, I really thought it was the right time to try for child #2. Literally last December I wrote a post about my decision to try to get pregnant again, and the emotional roller coaster that it had been. I never expected a year later that I would still be writing about attempting to get pregnant – and I really hope a year from now I’m not going to be writing about it anymore!

Each time that you see only a single line on a pregnancy test (or your period starts) is obviously disappointing. Some months it hits me really hard, and others I experience only a mild emotional reaction. I’m intentionally trying to make sure I stay in a healthy mental state as I continue to go through this process.

What does that look like for me? Below I’ll share five ways I’m coping with the waiting and monthly disappointment:

1. Pour my energy into Areas where I am making definitive progress

Every month that you don’t get pregnant can feel like a failure. Maybe you didn’t get the timing right… maybe if you were eating better or exercising more… or taking this or that vitamin… You need to have areas in your life where you’re feeling successful and can be proud of what you’re accomplishing. I have two things that I am investing in right now: exercising and writing. After my foot surgery, I wasn’t sure if or when I would be able to run again, but I have been slowly working up to running over the past several months. And it has felt wonderful to watch my body make progress and get stronger! My other activity has been writing – writing daily. Writing is something I easily get lost in, and achieve “flow,” as some would call it. I’ve been waking up early to write every day, and have found a lot of joy in being more disciplined with my writing process.

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