Trigger warning: This post discusses our journey to conceive including miscarriages and secondary infertility.
I know I'm fortunate to have two beautiful children. I know that having a family that has grown from two to three to four is something that so many dream of, and aren’t as lucky as us to achieve.
What you need to know is that four miscarriages and a diagnosis of secondary infertility are not made easier with that knowledge. We each have our stories, and just as you have yours, this is mine.
Facts about infertility
Here are a few facts about infertility, along with my story.
Infertility affects one in six women.
This includes me. In 2013 I was diagnosed as infertile and referred to the fertility clinic. Recently I was diagnosed with secondary infertility and referred for a second time.
Infertility treatment can be offered it you've been trying to conceive for a while.
If you are under 35 and tried for at least a year, or over 35 and tried for at least 6 months you are likely to be referred to a fertility clinic. John and I have been contraceptive free since the Pickle was born in December 2016, and just over two years on I've been referred to the fertility specialists, again.
Only 4 in 10 cases of infertility are attributed to men.
In our case both diagnoses were mine. Prior to the birth of our eldest daughter, I was referred to the fertility clinic due to the fact I wasn't ovulating. After tests at the start of this year, we found out I have a similar issue. Although I was having regular periods (every 28 days) it turns out I'm not releasing an egg every month.
Infertility struggles are not exclusive.
It can happen to anyone, including those who already had children, like us. The pain of not being able to conceive is emotionally and mentally draining.
My personal experience of secondary infertility
I cry, a lot
A monthly visit from Aunt Flo makes me cry, every time. If I'm late, I get excited, take a test, get a negative result and then I get a late visit from Aunt Flo. This cements the truth.
That truth is what leads to heaps of disappointment and tears.
I always felt guilty for being upset
After being disappointed and upset, I feel guilty. Guilt because I already have children. However, having two children doesn’t mean my feelings of disappointment are any less valid.
I always wanted a big family.
John and I talked about how many children we wanted very early in our relationship. Four or five, that was what we decided. To date we have suffered four miscarriages and a diagnosis of secondary infertility. With each and every failed month, I feel like adding another baby to our family is never going to happen.
Things that make not falling pregnant harder to deal with
People can be accidentally insensitive, especially if they don't know what's going on behind closed doors. Here are a few things which have been said to me, and why they’re inappropriate.
“When are you going to have another baby?”
Struggling to conceive is hard enough to cope with, without people badgering you about whether or not you plan to have a child. Besides, our sex life is no ones business except our own.
“I thought you'd have tried for a boy by now!”
Firstly, whether I have a girl or a boy, all I ever want, especially as a mama to four angels, is to have a healthy baby. Secondly, don't ask questions that could add to the pain of an already difficult journey to conceive.
“You have two beautiful girls, you should appreciate what you have."
You don't need to tell me how lucky I am. I know some people dream of having children and can't. For a while I thought that was going to be me. I've dealt with infertility. I’ve suffered miscarriages. Never insinuate I don't appreciate my girls. They are my world. That doesn't change, however, how much it hurts when we are trying, and failing, to conceive another.
"It's obviously not the right time." or, “Everything happens for a reason.”
Sharing the pain of struggling to conceive is not easy. A journey through infertility is so personal, and private, when I share my story with you this is the last thing I want to hear.
A message for those who are on their own journey through infertility
I'm not the only one dealing with secondary infertility. If you are walking your own journey, here are a few things you should know.
You are not alone.
Did you know an estimated 90 million couples experience fertility problems? There are many of us hurting, crying, wishing, dreaming, hoping and praying for the nightmare to be over. You are not alone.
You need to speak to your GP.
There are many things which can affect your fertility. Some factors you are able to control, such as smoking, weight, and diet. Other factors, such as suffering with Hypothyroidism (I am on medication for this, as it affects hormone levels), polycystic ovaries, low count or immobile sperm can be be diagnosed and in most cases treatment can be offered.
Never judge others.
You don’t know what is going on in anyone else’s lives. The reason for seeking medical help or sitting in a fertility clinic will vary from one person to the next. You may have no children, and find yourself sitting next to someone like me. A mum dealing with secondary infertility. Never judge them. We all have our own stories.
My referral is the start of yet more hoops to jump through. I have scans booked, blood tests, weight and diet checks and more to look forward to. When Aunt Flo visits again, I know I will still feel disappointed and upset. However I know it’s ok to be disappointed. Hopefully, with a little bit of help, we'll soon be welcoming another bundle of joy into our lives.