According to the National Survey of Family Growth, one in seven couples grapple with secondary infertility, a couple’s inability to conceive a baby, even though they’ve had at least one child in the past.
My husband and I are one of these couples.
Four years ago, my son was conceived with zero reproductive intervention. My husband (then 37) and I (then 36) had been married for six months, decided to start a family and six months later I was pregnant.
I had a better than textbook pregnancy — no morning sickness, no heartburn, no swollen ankles. It was strange, wonderful and amazing to feel and watch my body grow. And grow. Toward the end of the 40 weeks I felt HUGE but also strong and beautiful and couldn’t wait to do it all over again. I’m still waiting.
My infertility struggles
Since my son’s first birthday, I have had five miscarriages, one through the aid of in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments. After IVF, I had four failed natural cycles with a hormone replacement regime and three failed intrauterine inseminations (IUI).
I am still not pregnant.
I never thought it would come to this… tens of thousands of dollars, hours upon hours of waiting in doctors’ offices, countless blood tests, ultrasounds and other invasive procedures, painful progesterone shots, timed intercourse, more negative pregnancy tests than I care to recall, more heartache and frustration than one person should be allowed and all the while holding on to a strong hope and longing that this will be the cycle we add a fourth member to our family, this will be the cycle we give our son a sibling.
My reproductive endocrinologist (RE) remains positive that I can get pregnant, but also maintains that time is not on my side. I am 40 now and age appears to be the only obstacle standing in our way. We are now facing IVF again.
Secondary infertility is actually more common than not being able to conceive in the first place. In some ways I believe it’s more difficult to endure because I have proof that I have done this successfully in the past in the form of a three-foot child running around my house asking me to play “Go Fish.”
I have found support in many forms — my husband, of course, who is not only my partner on this roller coaster ride, but my grounding force. I also read as much as I can on the subject of infertility and secondary infertility, seek counsel from a licensed therapist, who specializes in individuals and couples experiencing infertility, attend a monthly Resolve (The National Infertility Association) meeting, belong to several online support groups, practice yoga, see an acupuncturist and write about my journey.
Infertility does not discriminate and it’s important that for those who are fighting this battle to stick together. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing my story here and I hope that if you or someone you know is struggling with infertility or secondary infertility, you will read along, comment and ask questions. Let’s support each other while we hold on to hope together.