I remember when I was pregnant with Monsieur reading an article about secondary infertility. Secondary infertility is where a couple have no trouble conceiving first time round but are unable to conceive second time round, or experience recurrent miscarriages. I was appalled that, even though we’d managed to conceive easily the first time, it was no guarantee of future fertility. It seemed like a cruel joke.
I sometimes wonder if it hit too strong a nerve with me. Did I somehow will it upon us. Ridiculous I know, but the mind can lead you along some twisted pathways sometimes.
Not only is secondary fertility an issue, it is actually more common than not being able to conceive in the first place (a fact which I just read tonight as I searched for the correct term and definition). Kinda makes you wonder how many one child families are a deliberate choice and how many are a result of undesired circumstance.
Secondary infertility is painful – it is hard to adjust your vision of your family – but at least there is the considerable silver lining, perhaps it is a silver fill-in really, of already having a child. A sense of “Well, thank heaven we were able to have this one”. In some ways, I feel selfish to get sad and upset at our situation when we do have a child, and such a beautiful child at that. I feel like I should just be grateful for what we have; that I should gracefully and quietly let go of our dreams of another child. I’m grateful, extremely grateful for Monsieur, and I will always feel so blessed to have him in our lives, but that does not ease the ache of missing the other child we wanted.
We always imagined having two children, reasonably close in age. The age gap was ultimately going to be determined by when we felt ready for a second child and I felt ready to be pregnant again. Ideally it was going to be about an 18-24 month gap. We didn’t realise that the gap was not up to us, nor was the number of children. Huh.
Two pregnancies in 3 years, both miscarried early on. The second one was an ectopic so a natural miscarriage was the best case scenario. After the ectopic, I had to have a tubal patency test to check for any obvious issues in my fallopian tubes. I was told that it was also useful as it would “flush out” anything remaining, leaving a fresh slate, so to speak. The ultrasound technician told me that many women conceive after having the procedure done, possibly because of the “flushing out” aspect. I also heard a similar thing after my first miscarriage; friends telling me how they, or someone they knew, conceived within 2-3 months of having a miscarriage. Honestly, after each miscarriage, early as they were, it took my body three months, at least, to physically recover. There was no way I was up for anything to do with conception while I was healing.
That really threw me for a six too. I couldn’t understand how I could still be having painful periods, and pelvic girdle pain three months after being pregnant, when I had been just barely pregnant. I mentioned to this to a nurse when she asked how I was doing after the first miscarriage and she said to me that pregnancy is a binary thing. You’re either pregnant, or you’re not. There’s no being “a little bit pregnant”. Once that pregnancy happens, all the hormones start flowing and the body starts it’s preparation, probably before you’ve even peed on a stick. I should have known that, but it hadn’t really occurred to me. Like so many people, I think that I judged the worth and impact of a pregnancy on how far along it was. A four week pregnancy isn’t anything really, but a 10 week pregnancy, obviously that would be really tough on you physically and emotionally to lose. I still believe that the impact is much greater, the further along you are in a pregnancy, however I no longer underestimate the impact of an early miscarriage.
I have been seeing a fertility specialist since March, starting the long process of signing up for IVF. R and I have had many tests and there is no discernible reason for our difficulties in conceiving and keeping a pregnancy. Age is a strong possibility. Perhaps there’s some tiny damage in my tubes, too small to be seen in the scan. But for whatever reason, we are classified as being medically infertile for reasons unknown. IVF is the recommended course of action. And now that we are staring down this road, suddenly we are hearing about other couples who have gone down or are going down this same road. Just like miscarriage, it seems no one mentions it until you are experiencing it too. Then suddenly you discover just how common it is, and can’t quite comprehend how something so prevalent can be kept so secret. But really that is an issue deserves its own post.
Right now we at a fork in our lives and it is not 100% up to us which fork will be taken. Will it be the fork with a sibling for Monsieur, or will it be the fork where where we remain a family of three (with an awesome TV/entertainment room – because we will need to do something awesome with Sibling’s room, if Sibling doesn’t come to claim it).
Further information can be found online, of course, by googling. I referred to the following websites for information:
Resolve – The national infertility association
Women’s Ultrasound Melbourne
Advanced Women’s Imaging
In her recent post on Medium, Lorelei Vashti writes about miscarriage far more eloquently than I ever did.