Disclaimer-This is a bit long-winded but I wanted to tell my story and speak out about secondary infertility. Although, I was very open with our struggles to get pregnant our first and second time , I have remained silent the last year and half. Mainly, because I felt guilty for experiencing all the same emotions again because we were blessed with a perfectly healthy baby boy. I still know plenty of women out there still struggling to get pregnant for the first time and experiencing one loss after another and my heart constantly breaks for them.
However, I have learned a lot within the last year and have been more understanding with myself and all the emotions that come along with secondary infertility. Let me go ahead and just say it-battling infertility is no different the second, third, fourth, or fifth time around. It ‘s more common then you may think and it makes up 60% of today’s infertility cases with more than 3 million women suffering in the US. It’s my hope that someone reading this can relate and know that it is OKAY to feel these feelings all over again. In fact,its important that you allow yourself to go through the motions and although I struggled, my past allowed me to fight this battle again stronger, smarter and more forgiving than the last time.
In the past year, my daily conversations consist of the following:
Strangers, co-workers, acquaintances & family members etc: So, are you planning to have another one?
Me: Um, unless you’ve got Kleenex in your purse and 20 minutes to spare, let’s not go there k thanks!
I think I started getting asked this question before my first even turned a year old and it still stings the same way as it did before I got pregnant with him. From the moment he was born, the thought of a sibling has been in the back of my mind. I have always wanted a bigger family as I have 3 siblings of my own. Keeping in mind that although we did have issues conceiving him, the odds were in my favor for any future pregnancies. I was told numerous times, by all my doctors that once you have one successful pregnancy, your chances of conceiving again climb dramatically. So of course that gave me some comfort and maybe just a tad bit too much confidence but we had been through enough..right?
Like most new parents, our lives were consumed with our miracle baby. Experiencing an unexpected and traumatic miscarriage during my first pregnancy followed by a brutal wait not to mention being stuck in my own mental hell to attempt to get pregnant again. As I have said in previous posts, the miscarriage changed every part of who I am. I lost not only a piece of me physically but it took my happiness away. My son slowly but surely helped me to get my happiness back. In some ways, I think that the loss that I experienced as well as the feeling of never knowing if I would ever be able to have my own child has made me not only a better person but a better mom. I don’t miss a beat with my little guy. I take in and cherish every movement with him the good, the bad and the ugly as I know far too well that motherhood is not promised to everyone.
As the first year of motherhood came to an end I was at an all-time high in my life. My son was happy, healthy and thriving…not to mention the cutest damn thing you ever laid your eyes on, what more could I ask for? I was so in love with him- I honestly didn’t think I could ever love another child as much as I loved him. I knew I wasn’t in a place to share my love so I continued my focus on him. Every day with him was pure bliss and I considered myself the luckiest mama in the world.
As his second birthday grew closer, he grew more independent, needed me less, and started to hang out with his dad more and that is when reality hit me. I was losing my baby. That chunky, blonde hair blue-eyed baby was turning into a boy right in front of my eyes and I couldn’t be more proud but it was SO bittersweet. The months, weeks and days continued to fly by and I found myself longing more than ever for that new love again. My friends started having their second and third children. My son seemed to light up when he saw a baby or when he had a friend to play with. He started pointing out every baby we saw and loved any he came in contact with. I knew in my heart that it was time. Not only was I ready to share my love but he was as well and I was so relieved that feeling finally came.
However, the thought of trying again for another child left me anxious and scared. I remember how the unknown, the waiting, and the disappointment each month not only left me in a dark place but the stress it brought on my marriage. Thankfully, my husband and ultimately grew closer during those trying times but it was not easy. Our love was no longer loving, fun and carefree during the that time and I couldn’t imagine having to go through all this again but I also knew how great the reward would be.
This time around, I had a false sense of hope. As I said before, my OB was very confident that I would be one of the many who ended up right back in her office pregnant with number 2. My husband and I both decided that we would hold off on the fertility drugs and see what happened.
After 6 months went by with no good news, I felt myself starting to slip back into the depression that comes along with infertility. Pregnancy announcements were popping up everywhere. My anxiety and feelings of hopeless came creeping back as each unsuccessful month went by. My OB decided to put me back on Clomid (the fertility drug that helped us conceive our son) and I was okay with this since it was a walk in the park for me the first time. The only symptoms I had were hot flashes and for anyone who has experienced infertility before…we all know that we would do ANYTHING for a baby and I had heard of the terrible side effects other experienced while taking Clomid. I considered myself lucky to only be experiencing the bare minimum of these horrible symptoms.
This time was different- my body and the Clomid did not agree whatsoever. I had just about every single side effect times 10. I was ridiculously bloated and SO uncomfortable. I looked about 6 months pregnant. I basically felt miserable every single day while it continued to suck the life out of me. Meanwhile, I gained about 15 pounds from the time I started taking it and I started to not recognize my own body. After about 5-6 unsuccessful grueling months, my OB decided that was enough and referred me back to the Women’s Institute.
I had to wait about 3 months to finally get an appointment with my Reproductive Endocrinologist(RE) at the Women’s Institute. Blind-sided and disappointed that we were back to square one. I somehow mustered up the courage to sit back in those same chairs and face what he had to say. He ran all the standard tests, looked over all of my blood work from the past year or so and decided he wanted me to have a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) to determine if there was anything going on with my tubes. The results of the HSG weren’t very helpful-my right tube was in question but they didn’t have confirmation that it was actually blocked which would have been an easier diagnosis to digest because then at least we would finally have an answer but nope, of course-no definite answers.
My RE suggested moving on to a series of procedures called Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). I honestly never imagined us having to travel even further down this path of infertility again. He went ahead and warned me that the success rate for IUI’s were only about 15% but the success rate of conceiving on your own naturally was only about 5% so this was better than nothing.
We scheduled our first IUI for October. I had to continue the Clomid and also give myself a trigger shots 36 hours before the procedure. Fortunately, I was still able to have a drink or two so I downed the wine and jumped right into the world of injections. The actual procedure itself isn’t too bad. It’s pretty quick and painless, somewhat like a pap-smear. The two-week wait after is the hardest part and any mama’s out there who have experienced the two week wait can vouch for that. It truly feels like two years!
Unfortunately, the first IUI was not successful and I was completely heart-broken. The amount of prep and time as well as office visits that go into that one procedure is mentally and physically exhausting each month and to find out that it did not work was devastating. We went for round two the next month and again it failed. By this point- I was hopeless again. While IUI’s are still costly, they are much cheaper than IVF. I knew this next month was our final shot, no pressure right?
As I prepped for the next month, the 3rd and final procedure-I was numb and just going through the motions. The morning of the procedure, my sweet hubby left me a card with this note in it which made the day more bearable..I am so lucky to have him by my side and I will cherish this note forever ❤
As the nurse was prepping everything, I starting having doubts. I even considered not going through with it because I just didn’t see the point of having to experience yet ANOTHER heart-break. My follicles were in my right side tube and I felt like that was failure’s way of slapping me in the face. Luckily, they were able to talk me into continuing on with the procedure. I walked out of the office feeling more defeated than ever with absolutely no hope.
The RE suggested that we go ahead and schedule an IVF consultation in case this one was unsuccessful as well which had me feeling even more hopeless and more frustrated with my body than I had ever been before. The consultation itself was overwhelming and draining . After we left the office, the only thing I had left to do was wait about another week to get the news of what I thought would be another failed procedure but….
(Look at that little nose!!)
Some say the third times a charm and I am firm believer of that now! I will never forget seeing the words “pregnant” on that stick. I’m not sure how we got so lucky again but I am currently 16 weeks and we are thrilled to welcome our newest miracle in early September. My heart has never been so full and ready to love again. My first trimester hasn’t been so easy on me. I didn’t realize how lucky I was the first and second time to experience absolutely no sickness. This is a whole new experience for me on top of a threatened miscarriage diagnosis around 8 weeks that left me hanging on by a thread. I am happy so say that so far, all is well. Please keep us in your prayers as we continue on this journey!
I know I say this a lot but despite our heartbreak and struggles..
We truly are the lucky ones.
Until Next Time…