NIAW: Join the Movement to Support those Dealing with Secondary Infertility

by Kathy on April 22, 2013 · 13 comments

in Coping, Family, Friends, Hope, Infertility, Journey, Loss, Miscarriage, NIAW, Odds, Parenting, Pregnancy Loss, Relationships, Secondary Infertility

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“You are not a real mom until you have two kids.”

Who says that?

Especially to a person who is struggling to have another child!

Sadly I know someone who did and they said it to me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It’s National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) and once again I am taking this opportunity to share about my personal experience with secondary infertility, recurrent pregnancy loss and neonatal death in effort to help raise awareness and let those in the trenches, also dealing with one or more of these situations, know you are not alone.

Last year, in 2012, I wrote a post about secondary infertility called Don’t Ignore Those Who Already Have a Child for NIAW.

In 2011, I wrote a post Busting a Myth About Secondary Infertility for NIAW.

The hardest and most defining experience of my life this far has been my husband and my journey trying to expand our family. Throughout my life I was taught that if you worked hard “anything is possible.” After what turned out to be a five-year struggle dealing with secondary infertility and loss, between 2004 – 2009, I learned that is not always true.

We have now two amazing living children (a nine-year-old son and three-year-old daughter) who are the bookends to our family building story.

It was a long and painful road in between the births of our living son and daughter, which included three early pregnancy losses and the death of our second child/our first daughter soon after she was born in April 2008.

1 in 8 couples, or approximately 7.1 millions Americans deal with infertility, according the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2006 – 2010).

1 in 11 couples, or approximately 4 millions Americans deal with secondary infertility, and they account for about 50% of all infertility cases, according the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2006).

Throughout my family and my experience with secondary infertility we were blessed and lucky to have a lot of friends and family members who supported us and what we were going through. Though many of our loved ones did not understand, we were grateful for those who tried to get a sense of what it felt like to be in our shoes. It meant so much, especially to me, when someone would ask what it felt like to not be able to have another child as easily as a lot of people do. At the same time, there were also plenty of people in our life who didn’t get it and didn’t try to. Those people would say some pretty insensitive things, which was hard to take while already feeling sad about struggling to conceive again and sustain subsequent pregnancies after giving birth to our first healthy child.

I realize that most people who hurt my feelings with their words and actions in many cases had good intentions. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t difficult for me to get through the times when I was in public at social gatherings and people made pregnancy announcements or comments about “how hard it was” to have two or more children to take care of. Back then I would have given anything to find out for myself what it was like to be pregnant again and/or parent more than one child. I understand that parenting multiple children isn’t easy, but when I was in the trenches dealing with secondary infertility I had trouble being around other moms who would complain about their pregnancies or managing life with their children, when I couldn’t get there myself.

I want to emphasize that my longing for more children in no way minimized my love or gratitude for our son, who we wanted so much to give a sibling. Thus I also found it frustrating when people would tell me or insinuate that I should “just be happy with the child I had.” This is often something secondary infertiles feel guilty about, so please don’t make it worse by adding to our conscience your thoughts on the matter. We know how blessed and lucky we are to have our living children, but that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with us longing to expand our families and feeling sad when that proves to be more difficult than we imagined it would be.

A common theme in life for those going through difficult and uncertain experiences is that no one knows what it feels like to walk in our shoes, unless they have been there too. So it certainly helped me to find and connect with other women and families who also had been diagnosed with secondary infertility and/or had experienced pregnancy loss and/or neonatal death. I also found eventually that one of my biggest take-a-ways from my journey through secondary infertility and loss is that life is not a contest to see who struggles the most or is dealt the worst hand. There is no “Pain Olympics” and most everyone we know is fighting some kind of personal battle. I learned to have a greater sensitivity to and compassion for anyone I knew who was facing a trial, whether it was dealing with infertility, loss, an illness, parenting a child with special needs, caring for aging parents or some other circumstances in their lives that were not what they hoped, dreamed or planned for.

Another thing my journey through secondary infertility and loss taught me was to speak up and out about my experience in effort to pay it forward for those who will follow in my footsteps. There weren’t a lot of resources available for those diagnosed with secondary infertility when my family and I were in the trenches and I vowed ever since to change that. I have tried to use my blog to help educate others about secondary infertility and loss, as well as to serve as a place where those who are struggling (and people who care about them) can find support.

I recently developed a Secondary Infertility resource page here on my blog, which I continue to add to frequently. I hope that anyone who finds themselves here who is dealing with secondary infertility, or cares about someone who is, will find the links to websites, articles and books I share about helpful. Please share my Secondary Infertility resource page with people you know who might benefit from checking it out.

I am also working on a new series called Secondary Infertility Stories, which profiles bloggers diagnosed with this disease and will share how they have coped with their struggle to have more children. I plan to début this series in the coming months here on my blog. Update: I ended up getting my first Secondary Infertility Story up this week! Click here to read it.

Finally, as some of you know, I am writing a memoir about my journey through secondary infertility and loss which I hope get published in the future. I know that I would have appreciated such a resource when I was in the trenches and think my story is one that many dealing with secondary infertility can relate to. I believe that since my battle lasted for so long and covered so many components that people with secondary infertility often are faced with, including recurrent pregnancy loss and using Assisted Reproductive Technology to try to expand our family, I am in a unique position to be able to speak to a wide range of secondary infertility experiences.

Thank you for reading and doing what you can to support those dealing with secondary infertility.

If you are dealing with secondary infertility, I feel your pain and am sorry that expanding your family has not gone as you hoped, dream and planned. I wish you the best on your journey to have more children and hope your situation is resolved soon.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you want to find out more about infertility and/or learn more about National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), please check out these links:

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Esperanza April 22, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Thank you for writing this. And for your resource page and for the stories you plan to tell. The more people know about SIF the better.
Esperanza recently posted..NIAW & Where I StandMy Profile

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2 Justine April 22, 2013 at 10:04 pm

I love this post. And yes, to this: “I also found eventually that one of my biggest take-a-ways from my journey through secondary infertility and loss is that life is not a contest to see who struggles the most or is dealt the worst hand. There is no “Pain Olympics” and most everyone we know is fighting some kind of personal battle. I learned to have a greater sensitivity to and compassion for anyone I knew who was facing a trial, whether it was dealing with infertility, loss, an illness, parenting a child with special needs, caring for aging parents or some other circumstances in their lives that were not what they hoped, dreamed or planned for.”

As someone who’d had an easy first pregnancy, multiple losses, then a diagnosis of unexplained SIF and a surprise pregnancy without medical assistance, I struggled with the Pain Olympics, discounting my own hurt. “Do I really ‘count’ as someone whose losses matter, if I already have a child? Shouldn’t I be grateful? But it hurts anyway … Should we stop trying? Other have it worse than I do” etc etc. And honestly, accepting and owning my diagnosis, and acknowledging that what I felt was real, was a long process, and important part of my journey, too.
Justine recently posted..My Grandmother, Choosing Family, and Yellow Split Pea Lentil SoupMy Profile

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3 Catwoman73 April 23, 2013 at 6:58 am

Thank you for writing this… As someone who suffered from secondary infertility, and never did manage to have that second child, this post validates so much of what I have been feeling.

And I can’t believe someone actually said that you aren’t a real mom until you have two kids… that’s absolutely horrible!
Catwoman73 recently posted..“Happy” National Infertility Awareness Week!My Profile

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4 Em April 24, 2013 at 4:13 pm

I just found your blog for the first time today and I’m so glad I did. I’m trying to cut back on the number of blogs I follow but after reading this post, I knew I had to add your blog to my list. We are just starting our journey into secondary infertility (on our second cycle). What you said about not ignoring people who already have a child is SO important. Also, I’m so sorry that someone told you that you weren’t a real mom. Obviously, they were quite wrong.

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5 Cherish April 27, 2013 at 8:06 am

I’m so upset when people say things like this. It’s so judgmental and pain-inducing for many reasons. So what, if you never have a second kid you aren’t a mom? What the crap?! What if your kid potty trains perfectly, does that mean you aren’t a real mom?

I know people who have struggled with secondary IF and I know their pain is real and often less understood than primary IF. I think it’s important to spread the word, so thank you for your post!

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6 Joy April 28, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Thanks for the great post. I found it on the NIAW site and will visit your blog again.

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7 Hilary April 29, 2013 at 6:16 am

what a wonderful post…
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8 katyc July 13, 2013 at 8:57 pm

I’m so glad I found this post. I am 45 but still pining for a sibling for my almost 5 y.o. daughter, who we had through IVF. I have been through many IVFs to try to give her a sibling. I especially appreciate when you said “I want to emphasize that my longing for more children in no way minimized my love or gratitude for our son, who we wanted so much to give a sibling. Thus I also found it frustrating when people would tell me or insinuate that I should “just be happy with the child I had.” This is often something secondary infertiles feel guilty about, so please don’t make it worse by adding to our conscience your thoughts on the matter. We know how blessed and lucky we are to have our living children, but that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with us longing to expand our families and feeling sad when that proves to be more difficult than we imagined it would be.”

My husband has made me feel guilty for this very reason over the past few years…I wish I had had these words at that time. I am now so depressed that I am on multiple medications, and considering divorce. For us, using a donor egg would have been the answer, but my husband was not on board and now I have to somehow live with the distress/burden of my daughter being an only. I love her dearly and she is/was such a blessing, but I worry every day about what I/we have done to her.

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9 Fern July 18, 2013 at 9:08 am

This is the first time I am on this blog. We have been ttc our second child for 3 1/2 years now. I have not heard anyone say that to me but I have thought that about myself. I live away from my brother and his children and parents, and am visiting them over summer. My son’s desperation for a sibling is apparent when he is with his cousins and there is so much need for him to have a sibling that I have broken down several times. It hurts so much that I physically hurt with the pain of not being able to ttc. I pray that the longing for another child is taken away as much as I pray for another. I am glad that I found your blog as I think that the support I have been looking for now shifts from ways to conceive to coping with secondary infertility. I think that I have to now try and live with this condition rather than hope for a second child. It is all too much to bear.

Do carry on with your posts and writing. I love the quotes and am about to start my own story board (or journal).

God bless.

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10 Stacey Parshall Jensen May 6, 2014 at 11:18 am

Hello.

Thank you so much for writing this blog and the resources. How are you, today?

I’m a filmmaker in pre-production for my next short film, called Blessed..and it’s about miscarriage, motherhood and second chances…

I wrote it while deep in my own dark swamp of pain and grief. I suffer from secondary infertility due to early menopause. Try finding women who connect about that…it’s hard. I discovered this while we, my then new husband and I, were trying to conceive. Our daughter, his stepdaughter was leaving for college…so… there were alot of emotions happening and although I have gathered my resources- herbalist, my doctor, my shrink… it’s the art that I think is my salvation. Hence this film.

Could we connect? You can find me on FB. My film’s page is not up yet but will be soon.

It’s like I’m exposing myself by making this film. It’s part of my journey, though.

So- I hope to hear from you. Beautiful post! Thank you again!

Much peace
Stacey Parshall Jensen

I would love to connect with you.

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11 Blindsight July 11, 2014 at 7:39 am

A vast library of fiction, autobiographies and more is open to you via this excellent Android audiobook app, and they have a special ‘one book free’
offer for new sign ups to the Audible – Listener Gold program.
The Playaway books are like little hand held walkmans that
do not require tapes or discs of any kind. What audiobooks gives them
is an easy way to take in books without needing to put in any effort –
the only thing to make sure is that their hearing is still good enough.
Blindsight recently posted..BlindsightMy Profile

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