Secondary Infertility – 5 things you need to know

Apr 12, 2021

Just be grateful for what you have.

That’s what we’re taught when we’re younger, and that’s what gets drilled into our head throughout our lives.  You must be grateful.  Anything less than that, and well, you’re spoilt or ungrateful.

So, when secondary infertility pops its nasty head up to ruin that perfect picture we had in our head of our family, it surfaces again.  That’s all we hear.

“Just be grateful for the child you already have”, we’re told.

The conflict of emotions hits us hard.  Maybe we ARE being ungrateful?  Maybe we should just be satisfied and move on with our lives?

I had always wanted two children.  That’s the picture I had in my head.  Whenever I imagined my family, it was never with one, but two babies.  I was one of three children, and I wanted my children to have the same experience I had.  Siblings who could play with each other, be best friends, and ensure they didn’t get pigeon-holed as an “only child”.  A family of 4.  My dream.

Then that dream was slowly (or rather quickly) destroyed.  For 5 years, we struggled to make one baby.  But we got there.  Our one baby was eventually born via a surrogate.  It was a one-time deal.  We couldn’t afford to do it again, and the fact that it had taken so long and included so much heart-break stopped us from considering it.  Not to mention the fact that we would have to find another willing selfless angel to carry a baby for us.

So, we made peace with it as best we could.  I told myself that it was ok.  We just had to change that picture in our head.  But it still hurt.  It was still the end of a dream.

Secondary Infertility is widely misunderstood and under-supported. 

It causes confusion amongst our peers when you go through IVF, yet you already have a child.  Why would you put yourself through that, when you already have a perfectly healthy child? Or when you’re upset because you had another failed pregnancy test, but your baby is giving you a cuddle when you cry.  Separating the emotions is hard.

Surely it can’t hurt as much as primary infertility, right?  It doesn’t sting as much, does it?

If you are currently experiencing secondary infertility and questioning whether you have the right to want more or feel your current pain, here are 5 things I want you to know.

  1. Secondary infertility is still infertility. It hurts, regardless of whether you have one child or two. You still get the insensitive comments of “when are you going to have ANOTHER baby”.  You’re still triggered by seeing families and pregnancy announcements.  And you still feel disappointment after every negative pregnancy test.  You have a right to claim those emotions and seek support, exactly as you would primary infertility.  You don’t have to down-play your emotions or deny them.  You are entitled to feel sad, angry, jealous and scared.  When you give yourself permission, and acknowledge your feelings, you will feel lighter.

  2. You are not alone. Secondary infertility is more common than you think.  Secondary infertility occurs at the same rate as primary infertility i.e. 50% of infertility cases are due to secondary infertility.  Which means that there are other women who know your pain.  And while you would never want someone else to feel this heartache, sometimes it is comforting to know that you’re not the only one.  Seek out support groups that are specific to secondary infertility – that way you can share your pain with others, without the risk of offending anyone who is suffering from primary infertility.  You have a right to be heard, and have your feelings validated.

  3. While the pain may be the same, secondary infertility comes with some different worries too. You worry about the age gap between your siblings and feel pressure to make it happen NOW.  You feel guilty that your existing child may be an only child, and worry that they won’t get the sibling experience that you had.  Your existing child may be pressuring you for a sibling too, unaware of how much it hurts you every time they ask when you’re going to have a baby.

  4. Your desire for another child does not make you ungrateful. Of course, you’re grateful for what you have. But you can be grateful and want more at the same time.  You wouldn’t tell a friend who is going for a job promotion at work to just be grateful for where she’s at, would you?  No, you’d tell her to follow her dreams, and if she wants to work her way up the corporate ladder and fill her hearts desire of becoming a partner, then she should do it.  And you are the same.  If it is your dream to have a bigger family, you get to fight for it without that little voice inside your head telling you to settle for less.

  5. This is not your fault. Blaming yourself or your partner is not the answer.  This burden is heavy enough to carry without piling on the suffering and story around WHY this is happening.  Your energy would be much better served in working out what to do next. 

 Most importantly, you don’t have to feel guilty.  In my experience, and from talking to others who have suffered, GUILT is the heaviest emotion associated with secondary infertility. 

Guilt that you waited too long.  Guilt that you should be grateful.  Guilt that others have it worse than you do. Guilt that you’re spending so much time and energy creating another child, and that you’re not concentrating on the time you have with your existing child.  

That guilt is not yours to carry.  It’s toxic and it’s not serving you.  Plus, you’ve done nothing wrong except desire something more. 

And we are entitled to want more. Be more. And have more.

We see you.  Your pain is real.  You are amazing. 

Jen xx

p.s. if you would like some support through this stage of your fertility journey.  To feel supported and release the guilt.  You can find more information on my 1:1 signature coaching program, RECLAIM YOUR LIFE.  Click HERE.

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