Do you already have a child and are trying desperately to have another? Have you been told by friends, family members, or even medical professionals, “If you already have one child, you know you are capable of having another,” yet you have not had success? Does your life feel like an emotional rollercoaster ride filled with hope and disappointment each month? Then perhaps you are experiencing secondary infertility.
Secondary Infertility is a term that refers to a couple’s inability to conceive a second child or carry a baby to full term after having had no difficulty conceiving a previous child. It elicits unique suffering for the women and couples who experience it. For instance, many people, including you and your partner, may not understand why it is so challenging to conceive considering you had done it one or more times prior.
Furthermore, you need to navigate all the hardships of infertility, while already caring for a child at home. Emotionally, you may experience depression, hopelessness, anxiety, anger, despair, jealousy, and guilt. Given this, the quality of current parenting could be adversely impacted. Below you will find suggestions that may assist you in managing this difficult time.
Realize your needs
Trying to get pregnant could be seen as an additional job added to the mix of current parenting and, perhaps, holding a full-time career. Considering this, you must identify your needs and ask for assistance when possible. Self-care might mean requesting a day off from work or asking your partner to take on more chores in the home. Unlike couples without children, those experiencing secondary infertility are always around children, and therefore, it may be necessary to reject invitations to parties, etc. If it becomes too upsetting to see larger families. Overall, you need to recognize that what you are facing is one of the most difficult circumstances a woman can experience and make yourself the priority.
Seek out support
Going through this process could be isolating, particularly if friends and/or family members have multiple children and had conceived them easily. It is crucial that you not feel ashamed about the inability to conceive. You may want to be selective in how much you initially disclose to others and gauge what it is like to reveal such personal information. What you decide to reveal needs to be based on your and your partner’s comfort level. It could also be helpful to extend your network to others with whom you could relate, such as members of a local or online infertility support group.
Recognize that social networks may change
Though friends could be well-intentioned, you may find that some do not provide the full support that you need. Common comments like, “you should be thankful that you at least have one healthy child,” may lead to guilt over the fact that you still yearn for more. For those who do not know your circumstances, it may be common to get asked why you are waiting so long to have a second child. It could be that your relationship with friends or family members develops into one of envy. You must find a way to accept these differences and stop comparing yourself with others. Help individuals in your network understand what you are going through.
Obtain medical assistance
You may find it necessary to speak to reproductive endocrinologists who specialize in fertility problems and could help maximize your chances of conception. The first step is selecting a specialist with whom you feel comfortable. Given the length of time potentially involved in this process and the complex and emotional manner of the issues involved, you must feel at ease with your doctor: being able to openly ask questions and get questions answered. You may want to start investigating clinics by examining their success rates via the use of SART reports (Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology). Know about the various online fertility organizations and what they could offer in terms of educating yourself.
You may engage in any of the following thoughts throughout this process, “why me?”; “life isn’t fair”; “this is too much too handle”; “why can’t I provide a sibling for my child?”; and “why is my body failing me?” These thoughts are counterproductive, often leading to diminished confidence. It is essential to banish these ideas as soon as they begin and to replace them with healthier thoughts such as, “I am going to take this day by day.”.You may want to pursue psychotherapy to discuss your concerns in a safe environment and receive validation as well as the tools to overcome obstacles that will arise.
Take care of your physical health
Care for your body can take a back seat when you are balancing medical appointments and care for an existing child. If undergoing ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology), you may take numerous medications that produce unwanted side effects, cause pain, and leave physical bruising due to the fact that most are given via injection. Your body may feel invaded, with limitations that impact your lifestyle and physical well-being. As such, try to get proper sleep, eat healthily, and engage in some form of exercise such as walking, swimming, or yoga. Acupuncture and massage are also effective in reducing stress.
Communicate with your partner
Responding to numerous failed attempts at conception can be devastating, leading to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. You or your partner may begin to feel that intimacy and perceptions of sexuality are diminished, replaced by scheduled sessions of intercourse. It is also possible that you will not agree with your partner on every decision throughout the process. Be as open as possible with your partner and make your requests explicit in order to reduce tension and work as a team. Taking time to enjoy a night out together could distract you from the larger fertility problems while restoring intimacy.
You may have gone through months or years of fertility treatments, only to have no success in broadening your family. Although the use of egg and sperm donors or adoption may not have been primary choices, these are all viable options worthy of being explored. It is helpful to realize that you may still have control over the ability to have another child.
Make a financial plan
If you and your partner decide on fertility treatments it could be extremely costly, even if treatments and medications are covered by insurance. Co-payments alone are very expensive. It may be helpful to make a budget and think about reducing other costs that might not be so important at this time. Fertility clinics could inform you of possible funding options or coupons/rebates for medications. It is helpful to speak to your insurance carrier immediately to verify what is and is not covered and then do your research.