What is secondary infertility?
Secondary infertility (SI) is the term used to describe those who have trouble conceiving their second or subsequent children. Often the first child can have been conceived with no significant issues at all so a diagnosis of secondary infertility can come as quite a shock.
We were one of the lucky ones when we had our first child; the couple that those with long term infertility issues can’t stand. We basically decided to have a baby and two months later we were pregnant. Hooray for us. So when we decided to add to our little family we honestly thought we were up for the same sort of ride. My mum’s side of the family have always seemed to be a bit crazy fertile so I just figured I had inherited this trait from them.
We already have a child, the second one should be easy!
And then no baby, no baby, no baby. After 9 months I did finally get a positive pregnancy test but then lost it right after. It was deemed a chemical pregnancy (link to blog). I was 37 by this time and really should have taken myself to the specialist within 6 months of us trying but I just couldn’t get it out my head that this experience should have been easy for us.
I think that might be the curse of us secondary infertiles: we don’t seek help as soon as we should.So it took us 12 months to seek professional help rather than the recommended 6.
The thing is, you never really know what is going on in there. Things can be changing within your system as you age and sometimes you won’t have any symptoms of this taking place. This was certainly the case for me. I wound up having undiagnosed endometriosis that was basically destroying my egg health and went through 3 full FAILED rounds of IVF and two specialists before someone figured that out.
Secondary infertility is STILL infertility
One thing I learnt throughout this journey is infertility is infertility. Your heart can be breaking for a baby even if you have one already and I think this can be hard for some people to understand, especially those outside the infertility community altogether.
I was very active in an online community of infertility bloggers during this period of my life and while no one on there ever made me feel like their pain was worse than mine I did feel some sense of guilt at times for complaining about what I couldn’t have when I did already have the privilege of being a mother. This is the curse of the secondary infertile.
Why secondary infertility is different to primary infertility
Primary infertility is definitely a bleaker hand to be dealt; there is no doubt about it. Some of those women were facing years of pain and loss with no babies to hold in their arms at all and that broke my heart.
But as a woman who wanted another baby, a sibling for my child, I would have definitely felt a huge sense of loss if we had decided to walk away from it all without success.
Wanting another sibling for my child
I am a big fan of my siblings and my partner was a lonely only child so a sibling for our son and a bigger family were parts of the narrative we had built in our heads for our lives. It is hard to give up on a dream for your family, whoever you are and wherever you are at in your journey.
The pain is real and raw and valid and true.
Stay strong, mamas and don’t let anyone diminish your pain because you already have a child. Those going through secondary infertility need just as much of our love and support!
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Blogger, Infertility Survivor and Mum of 2
Rachael is a blogging, potty-mouth mum of two from the beautiful Far North Coast NSW, Australia. She is an Infertility Survivor, VBAC warrior and founder of Stories for Strength where she will blog regularly in the very near future so please check in and say hello. She is passionate about giving back to the infertility community which virtually carried her on her journey to a second baby. She loves a lounge room dance party with her kids and believes with everything that she has that we are all stronger than we realise.