Secondary Infertility and Your Emotions

Many couples who have successfully become parents find themselves unable to have another baby. The experience of “secondary infertility” is described by many of those that are going through it as feeling like they don’t “fit” – in either the fertile or the infertile world. It may become difficult to believe that anyone understands what you’re going through or that you even have a right to feel the way you do. For those who have been fortunate to have two, three, four children without difficulty, it will be hard at times for them to understand why if you could conceive once you couldn’t just do it again. And the couples that can’ t even have one child of their own may leave you feeling like you should just be thankful that you have a child. In the meantime, while the world continues to go on around you, your heart is breaking and you’re just not sure whom to turn to.
You are not alone and you are not selfish in wanting to have another child. The sense of isolation you may be feeling is not uncommon. The fact is secondary infertility is more common than primary infertility. Secondary infertility also brings along with it some emotional baggage that distinguishes it from primary infertility. Couples that are going through secondary infertility often experience more marital problems than their counterparts. Women and men can differ in how they perceive ‘family’ and ‘parenting’. Men tend to have their parental needs fulfilled with the birth of a child. Women often want to have more children. They have dreams of large families (especially if they come from one) and end up feeling incomplete if they can’t have another child. As a result of these differences between men and women, men tend to be less supportive of their partners’ needs than they were with the birth of their first child.

Support you got from family, friends and doctors may also be less than it was when you were trying to get pregnant the first time. It becomes more difficult for others to understand that you have a fertility problem when proof of your fertility is running around under foot. Urges to “just relax” echo through your head and can lead to more frustration, doubt, and anger. The list of emotions can go on and on.

Feeling “guilty” is very common among women who are experiencing secondary infertility. First, you may feel guilty because you want another child when other women can’t have even one child and think that maybe you’re just being greedy. You may feel resentment if you think you have to justify your fertility treatment at a time when the needs of your child are so great (i.e., arrange a babysitter so you can go to the doctor’s).

No matter what endeavor most of us in life choose to undertake there will always be people who will doubt, criticize or fall short of understanding our choices. They may also have lots of advice and opinions to offer. For many of us, there are times when we need no help from others as we struggle with our own self-doubt, criticism and lack of understanding. But at NO time are we not entitled to the feelings, thoughts and desires that are going on inside.

Wanting a child (whether it be your first, second or third) is as natural and important to you as it is for many women and men. You are entitled to have as many children as you want. To believe otherwise will only hinder your path to getting there.

Take heart in knowing that there is technology out there today to help foster your pregnancy and other options for becoming a parent if the technology doesn’t help (adoption). There are many reasons why you may be having difficulty conceiving or carrying a pregnancy to term so it is very important you seek out ob-gyns that are sensitive and knowledgeable about your situation.

But, most importantly, remember you are not alone. There are support groups available for women and couples who are experiencing secondary infertility. Hopefully you will also be able to identify others in your lives that are sensitive, understanding and supportive of your journey. Reach out to them and allow them to give you the support and help you may need.