The National Center for Health Statistics states that 300 million women of childbearing age in the US have secondary infertility. Secondary infertility is when a couple is able to get pregnant and have a child but they experience infertility when trying for another baby.
I met Kaitlin before our last move and I knew that she was one of those 300 million. I asked her to guest post for my series. Her honesty really blessed me and brought tears to my eyes. I hope that it blesses you as well!
Thank you for sharing, Kaitlin!
When my husband and I decided that we were ready to try for baby number two, we assumed that things would happen quickly. After all, I had gotten pregnant with our oldest daughter quickly, within three months of stopping birth control. So once we began trying, we eagerly began to plan for our sweet little girl to have a sibling very close in age. We dreamed they would share toys, a room, and have a playmate there at home.
Even though my cycles had returned early after the birth of my daughter (we had not been successful with breastfeeding, so it returned early) and were regular, each month I was disappointed when my period came. It became harder and harder to deal with the disappointment each month. In the spring of 2013, when we had been trying for about ten months, I began to admit to myself that something might be wrong, that there might be a medical reason that I was not pregnant. Until this point, I hadn’t been ready to admit to myself that anything was wrong. I began to research trouble getting pregnant and infertility. I was recommended the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility (a very informative read). I learned about charting and temping, and began incorporating these into my daily routine. This gave me new hope that maybe this was the key I had been missing all along. I became confident that I was going to get pregnant this time.
However, several more months passed. When we reached the year mark of trying to get pregnant, I went to my doctor and requested a referral to a Reproductive Endocrinologist. This is key when treating infertility. An Ob/gyn is not skilled in treating infertility. An RE will order the correct testing, perform the correct monitoring (there are side effects associated with some fertility medications that can be detrimental to your body if they are not monitored properly), and offer the most insight into treating infertility.
When we saw the RE, he ordered blood work, and ultrasound, and a semen analysis for my husband. When our results came in, we received the diagnosis of Unexplained Secondary Infertility. Our first course of treatment was Clomid.
We ultimately did two cycles of Clomid alone, and then one with progesterone supplements in addition to the Clomid. The progesterone caused a lump to appear in my breast, which led to me stopping the progesterone until the lump was checked out (it was a cyst). This cycle was unsuccessful, and after this we began to financially think about and prepare financially for IUI (intra-uterine insemination). We took a break for the cycle after the progesterone scare, allowing us to enjoy the holidays without the stress of timing sex and monitoring appointments. Shockingly, this was the cycle that I became pregnant.
The hardest part of this journey, which was short-lived compared to many couple’s, was the impact this had on my faith. When we began trying to get pregnant, I was still dealing with some trauma from my daughter’s birth/postpartum and my failure to breastfeed, and now I felt as though my body was failing me in yet another way. I struggled with bitterness, as I watched friends and family members become pregnant and give birth. I was asked by well-meaning family members when we were having another baby.
It was all I could do to not scream every time someone asked me. I couldn’t talk about my hurt, especially with people who were pregnant, because it simply hurt too much. Every time I saw someone announce they were pregnant on Facebook, I cried. I lost friends during this journey. I felt isolated and alone. The place where I found a lot of support was a Facebook group for women dealing with secondary infertility. I could say the things there that I couldn’t say to other people – such as that I was angry with God. I was angry when I saw people who didn’t take care of their babies get pregnant again. I was angry that I had such a hole in my heart that seemed like it would never be filled.
Despite my anger and bitterness, I did believe that this desire for another child was from God. I believed that He would see me through this. How it would end, I didn’t know. But I kept praying. I had a song that really spoke to my heart during this time – The Civil Wars’ “From This Valley” has a line that goes “Oh I will pray pray pray until I see your smiling face”, and that line resonated with me deeply. When I heard this song for the first time, I felt a deep reassurance in my soul. It helped me to keep praying, even through the moments that I felt like I was screaming and God wasn’t listening, when I felt like my prayers were hitting the ceiling. Infertility was a huge test to my faith in this way – it was the first time that I felt as though God wasn’t listening. Dealing with this forced me to truly apply my faith and to truly trust God even when I could not see how this would end.
I got pregnant with my second daughter after nineteen months of trying. Over the nineteen months, I struggled with bitterness, loneliness, and anger. It is important to seek support when going through infertility. Whether it is through an online group, a counselor, or a close friend, it is important to have somewhere to talk about it. It is also important to do your research. You have to be your own advocate in your care. Take care of yourself emotionally and physically – go for walks, eat healthy foods, and take time to do something relaxing that you enjoy. Keep praying, even when it is hard. God promised that He would never leave us or forsake us, and that holds true even when we do not understand the situation or can’t feel His presence. He is still there.
Hugs and prayers to all women facing this struggle. You are not alone.