• Our Secondary Infertility Journey: Part 2

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    Last week I talked about what we went through the last four years in dealing with secondary infertility. Today I’d like to share a bit about the emotional side of it, and some unexpected challenges with regards specifically to secondary infertility. For a little more background if you’re new, read the first post and then the second.

    For me, what has been most difficult about secondary infertility, ironically, has been being a mother…

    PS This will be my last post about this topic, thank you for indulging me a bit and allowing myself to use this space to share and express my feelings on our struggle. It’s been something that has bottled up and spilled over into the blog and I feel a huge sense of relief for letting it all out! Sending those of you struggling to conceive happy thoughts of hope, love, support, and continued stamina for you in this difficult and painful journey.

    xoxo, Liz

    (Image above is our 5 1/2 year old, Henry, when he was a week or so old)

    When Henry was born our lives were turned upside down. We weren’t able to drop everything and go out to eat or travel and I stopped working at a 9 to 5 job outside of the home. It was a huge life change, as it often is for many people’s first child. My friends were suddenly all moms, and my activities during the day were planned around my son and his schedule and needs. All of a sudden everything revolved around being a mother. I was happy and satisfied in that new role, it felt natural and wonderful!

    The difficulty for me was once we started struggling to conceive again all of those experiences, those normal day to day parenting duties I was thrown into became constant reminders of not being able to grow our family. The group of women that I relied on for emotional support and strength started to become painful reminders of our struggle to conceive, especially since everyone else seemed to be growing their families effortlessly and I was in that world so completely now. It was impossible to escape or avoid! I’m a mom now: playdates and preschool, parks and birthday parties, potty training and sippy cups. Beyond this blog work, that’s the life I had. The painful reminder was intrinsically woven into every thread of my day to day life.

    I remember a year or so ago when my last good friend who has a child Henry’s age had a second baby and I realized looking around his school, the playground, at church, that he was the only one I knew his age without a sibling. It was a sad, lonely, and desperate moment for me. I tried not to wonder if he looked around and realized that same thing- certainly he must have. And was it a sad realization for him too?? We talked about our struggle pretty openly with him (“for some people it’s easy to have babies, but for us it’s hard”), but my heart still pained for his perceived loneliness.

    Behind that pain was one main underlying issue that I just couldn’t come to terms with in our struggle: I didn’t want Henry to be an only child. My husband and I both come from large families with siblings pretty close in age (I’m one of 6, he’s one of 8) which we both loved and I felt so much guilt for not being able to give Henry something that I knew not only he would love, but something that would be so good for him too. Something I felt he needed as a child. I know many people are perfectly happy as only children and having one child, but as hard as I tried to be okay with is, it was just so outside our experiences that I couldn’t come to terms with is as our family’s path. When I went to see a therapist on this issue she surprisingly came back with, “You don’t need to accept it. It won’t be your path. You’ll figure out a way to grow your family one way or another”.

    As each birthday passes, I become more and more desperate watching my little boy grow older without a sibling. What should have been happy milestones started to become grief filled moments of panic. Christmases the last couple of years became a painful reminder of the hope from the Christmas the year before that we would have another stocking to hang by this time next year. The age gap widening between him and the possibility of a sibling for him was almost too much to bear at many times. It was something many people, even Jared, didn’t completely understand the deepness of my sadness about. It was truly the hardest part for me. Guilt (shouldn’t I be happy with one?) and grief for something intangible all tied up in a growing beautiful boy whom I loved more than anything.

    The last issue that I think I really struggle with is feeling misunderstood from the outside community and even others suffering from infertility. Most people assumed that because we had a child we could have another if we wanted. “Wish we could” was a common short-answer response to questions people asked. It was lonely and isolating because not only was my support group (other mothers) a source of pain sometimes, but I couldn’t even find a infertility support group that I could join- and I live in a big city! I tried to join a couple but was turned away because I was dealing with secondary infertility and not primary (but we’re all grieving a lost dream for our family, right???). I understood the need to separate the two groups but it was certainly a painful reminder of this weird limbo state we were stuck in, and how truly isolating this condition was we were struggling with.

    I know everyone struggles with different aspects of this. For some the up and down month after month (hope and then despair, hope and then despair) is the hardest part. At one point our doctor said the hardest part is my own stamina to keep moving forward. And I certainly felt that. But I’m curious for those of you out there dealing with or have dealt with secondary infertility or primary infertility, what is/was the hardest part for you emotionally? What was most helpful for you in dealing with it?

    I felt like the most helpful thing for me was talking about it openly with friends and family so I wouldn’t feel pain and bitterness at their ability to grow their families and they wouldn’t feel awkwardness around the topic of babies and pregnancy. Those that echoed that same frustration, pain, and even anger sometimes were the friends I felt closest to. I had one friend who remembered the dates we would find out if procedures worked and would text me every single time, the morning of. She must have put it in her calendar to text me because she never ever forgot. Her response when it didn’t work was always exactly what I was feeling in the moment “WHAT THE S!*!&*(&)*!!!!” and I really appreciated someone echoing exactly what I was feeling, because anger and disbelief always came before the sadness in those failed attempts.

    My heart goes out to those of you wishing and hoping for a child in this moment, I’m right there with you my friends. Thank you for sharing your beautiful stories here.
    Xoxo, Liz

      
  • 86 comments

    1. katie said… June 17, 2013 4:53 pm

      Congratulations on your pregnancy, Liz! As much as I hate to hear that you’ve been dealing with this, I’m happy that you put it out there to give others, like myself, hope for success. My husband and I have been through 3 IUIs and 5 IVFs, with a miscarriage, ectopic & a chemical pregnancy (TMI). And sometimes the sadness is so isolating, as you echoed in your post. The best thing I’ve found is telling just a few close friends/family members who you know you can trust & who will be your cheerleaders. My husband & I are private people, but it has helped to have a who friends who will commiserate with you when yet another person posts a photo of their uterus on FB. Anyway, thanks for the encouragement!

    2. Erin said… June 11, 2013 11:40 am

      A) Congrats on being pregnant! I had no idea. So thrilled and excited for you. B) Thank you so much for sharing your infertility experiences. As someone who is going to be entering the fertility game in those “later stages” of life, I know there are a myriad of obstacles that could be in my path. Hearing other women’s stories and knowing there is a supportive community out there, no matter what befalls us makes the journey much less scary. You are an inspiration my dear! xx

    3. Jen said… June 6, 2013 9:19 pm

      Oh, Liz. I’m sad to hear that you were going through all this. We’ve been struggling with primary infertility for over 3 years now and it has been the most emotionally and physically painful thing to deal with on a daily basis. Primary or secondary–it’s the future you’ve envisioned, the family you yearn for and so many of your other decisions hinge upon the outcome. You feel like you’re car is stalled on the side of the road while everyone zips by having beautiful experiences with their kids–they’re moving forward. I’ve had quite a few friends have 1st, 2nd and some 3rd on the way while we’ve been trying. One of the hardest things is the thoughtless, ridiculous things people will say. And watching friends drift away when I still want to be included and love being around children. Oh, and social media seems to become one long thread of baby bump photos–which I’m ultimately happy about, but have to feel sad for a little while first. Enough of that–I’m really happy for you guys! It’s wonderful news!

      • Liz Stanley said… June 7, 2013 2:06 pm

        oh jen! I’m so sorry you’ve been going through what you have. I’ve always admired your site, fyi. The very best of luck and thank you for your comment!

    4. Emilie said… June 5, 2013 2:24 am

      I am from Europe, we are trying to have our second child since 2 years now… I am SO HAPPY that I found your journey, because here nobody talks about second infertility… I should as you said, just be happy to have one child. My doctor told me once that she knew a patient who had a child after 15 years… I should have been relieved… so I just changed my doc, and when he said without that I said something “I can understand your pain, each month again and again…” I just cried.
      My main pain is the age difference between my first child and a second one. I am afraid they won’t have anything to share. I feel guilty that Anouk is alone… I don’t want to go anymore in families of somebody is pregnant with number 2, 3 or even 4… I can not. I am happy for them, but it just remind me that I can not give a sibling to my own child.
      My psy told me also that I don’t have to accept it, that I have to find a way to build my family. I let us to the end of the year and then we will ask for help, because I don’t know how my brain is going to be at the end of the year… I have sometimes the feeling that I am driving crazy, that nobody understands. I also feel guilty that maybe Anouk has the feeling that she is not enough for me, which is not true… I am guilty to loose my time with her by crying and waiting… I am just trying to focus on something else, to like my life such as it is right now… but it is difficult. I don’t even speak to people anymore, because they said things that I don’t want to hear anymore such as “you have one child, you will have another one” or “you think too much about it” or “go in Holiday and it will happened” or “yes I understand your problem, I waited 3 months for my first pregnancy it was a nightmare…” I just can not anymore, I guess they say this because they don’t know what to say, so better to not speak about.
      Thank you for your story, it give me hope ! And I wish all the woman in this situation to be soon pregnant !

      • Liz Stanley said… June 7, 2013 2:07 pm

        Thank you Emilie for your comment- i too feel scared my son won’t connect with his sibling being so far apart in age. it’s a heavy thing to carry around (isn’t there enough mothers guilt we carry?!?)

    5. Christie. said… June 4, 2013 1:46 pm

      Hi Liz, this my first time to your blog and I just wanted to offer some support. My husband and I are also struggling to conceive our second, we have been trying for nearly 18 months now.
      Pregnancy doesn’t seem to agree with my body – first a miscarriage, then a beautiful daughter, and then two ectopic pregnancies, one just a month after the other (and one tube removal!). After so much loss and surgery, I felt that I needed to come to terms with the idea that it just might never happen for us. My husband and I are torn between wanting to try everything we possibly can (IVF and other methods) and just accepting that maybe we’re only meant to have one. There is just so much loss and grief, it’s hard to put myself back into that space… it’s kind of a self-preservation thing, once you make the choice to only have one then you can move on, y’know?

      I completely sympathise with friendships that suddenly feel painful – my two closest friends are both pregnant and I see them and their gorgeous big bellies nearly every day. They talk about how sick they feel and choosing names for their babies, and I feel sad in such a profound way that I don’t even think I can acknowledge it.

      Anyway, I am so thrilled for you and I hope you’ll continue to share news about your little love. I look forward to reading your blog more often now that I have found it!

      X.

    6. Amy said… June 3, 2013 4:38 am

      Oh Liz you have captured my journey completely. Lots of trying, 2 miscarriages and eventually we got pregnant and it stuck (really stuck because now she’s a beautiful 7 month old!). As an only child, I was really paranoid that we wouldn’t conceive again (and like the other only’s have said – I had a great childhood) but I really wanted another baby. Your comment about your friend swearing along with you – they were the best moments for me, from the best friends. But the ‘you are lucky to have one’ comments, and the worst ‘but at least you have a child, miscarriage is much harder on so-and-so as she hasn’t even had a baby yet’ just left me speechless. Wow. Are we really judging the bounds of people’s grief? And seriously, has anyone ever ‘stopped stressing’ about something after being glibly told them to? My age gap paranoia was intense too but was put in perspective by mature colleague of mine who reminded me ‘there are siblings 2 years apart that can’t stand each other and there are siblings 5 years apart that are best friends, and vice versa. their personalities will count for much more than a number’.

      • Liz Stanley said… June 4, 2013 1:21 pm

        That’s a good way to think of it, Thanks Amy!

    7. Amy said… June 1, 2013 9:40 pm

      Apologies if this has already been said (I still find it hard to read through struggles, and it’s been 8/9 years).

      The RESOLVE (resolve.org) message boards – and there is a board for every situation, including secondary – were my greatest source of support. From the comfort of my living room (every night!) I found an entire community of smart, kind women who were going through exactly what I was. We followed up on each other’s appointments, comforted when needed, and shared in successes. Can’t recommend it highly enough!

      • Liz Stanley said… June 2, 2013 10:55 pm

        Thank you! I’ve seen the RESOLVE site, thanks for pointing it out for everyone!

    8. Niki said… June 1, 2013 6:19 pm

      This is my first comment here. My journey to motherhood was bumpy and circuitous too but that isn’t what compelled me to comment. I want to tell you that I am 5 years older than my brother and 15 years older than my sister. My mom came from a large catholic family (9) and wanted some space. She loved our age gap. She said she had 5 years of just me and then when I was ready to go to school she got 5 more years of mostly just my brother. We adopted a cousin (1 year younger than me) in middle school and then when I was in high school, my sister was born. We were crazy about her. There are many photos of her sleeping on my brother’s chest while he played x box or things like me painting her toes as I got ready for prom.

      In high school I got to pull up to my little brother’s bus stop, with my big guy friends and inform some little punk that I better not hear about one more rock being thrown at my brother again. Eight years ago, I married the love of my life who also happened to be my (adopted) brother’s very good friend. And now I have the joy of spoiling my little sister (like next year when I make good on a deal to take her to Paris in exchange for 4 years of high school french). Fear not the age gap. Love transcends the details.

      • Jennifer said… June 2, 2013 3:36 pm

        Niki, that’s a really beautiful story!

      • Glennen said… June 2, 2013 5:01 pm

        Niki- I’m expecting my second child, 6 years now since my first was born, I’m excited but sometimes nervous about the age gap. Love transcends details. Thank you for that.

        Liz- Thank you for writing on such a personal and challenging topic. You wrote so beautiful on something so hard. Thinking of you.

      • Liz Stanley said… June 2, 2013 10:56 pm

        wonderful story, thank you Niki! Yeah for good experiences with age gaps. I’m starting to think I’ve been freaking out for no reason.. :) thank you

    9. Krista said… June 1, 2013 10:45 am

      Oh my goodness, your post gave me goosebumps. I had been going thru secondary infertility for the past 4 years and finally (after 2 IVF cycles, an ectopic pregnancy and a 20 week miscarriage) we had our daughter last August – she is 9 months old this week! But here’s another HUGE shout-out for age differentials between kids! We started trying for Hazel when our son Oliver was 4, and it took 4 years, so we have a 9 months old and an 8 year old! I have to say our son is absolutely AMAZING with her and SO PROUD of his little sister – they love each other very much. I honestly think the timing is perfect and meant to be. And our daughter is this amazing little old soul who stared right at us when she was born and we just know that while she had a long road to get here, she very much chose our family. Thank you for sharing your story – you’ve obviously touched so many…

      • Liz Stanley said… June 2, 2013 10:54 pm

        So great to hear about some positives for the age gap! Thanks for your comment, Krista

    10. alissa said… June 1, 2013 8:46 am

      This is not my struggle, but my heart goes out to you and to anyone who wants (more) children. This reminds me of a beautiful video done by the Cleveland Clinic (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDDWvj_q-o8) about empathy. (I have nothing to do with Cleveland Clinic – I just like the video). From the outside, it seems like you have a pretty awesome life. You’re cute, your kid is cute, your clothes are cute, your house is cute, etc. But none of us knew the pain you were feeling. This is just such a good reminder to treat everyone like they are fighting a battle and it’s up to us to be each other’s sunshine. Thanks for the reminder. I’m so excited for your little family! I wish we were friends. :)

    11. Karen said… June 1, 2013 2:04 am

      Hello – This is the first time I have read your blog, my friend sent me the link yesterday as she is aware of my struggles at the moment. I have a daughter who will be 3 in September who we conceived very quickly and had a fairly good pregnancy with, when she was 6 months we decided to try again as we realised we wanted two close together, over two years later here we are still without another child, last year I had investigations for infertlity where we found out I have a blocked right tube due to scarring most likely due my c-section. I live in the UK and although we have a funded health service paid for by taxes, as a rule most hospitals won’t fund secondary infertility treatment so now Im just left waiting, we are lucky to be comfortable in our financial situation and many people have asked us about going private with treatment but we are halfway through the application process to immigrate to Canada which has been a life long dream for myself and my partner, we just simply don’t have the funds… At Christmas we thought our luck had finally changed when I fell pregnant naturally, but it sadly ended in a missed miscarriage at the end of February and I am now left with a very empty feeling and a realisation that I may never be able to have another child. Like every woman who commented here before me I feel guilt for my child I have, grief for the one I may never have, anger as I watch my friends who had their first after mine have their second before me, the heartbreak it has on my relationship and the exhaustion on my emotional and mental health. Reading this has been a real revelation, finally finding lots of women who know and understand exactly what secondary infertility does to your life, I find most of my family friends don’t understand, even yesterday my SIL told me not to worry I would have another, if only it was that simple, thank you for not only sharing your story but for giving all us other mums suffering with secondary infertility as pace to share, come together and realise we truly aren’t alone x x x

      • Liz Stanley said… June 2, 2013 10:53 pm

        I’m so glad to hear you’ve connected with all these stories, Karen. Then very best of luck for your family!

    12. Katie said… May 31, 2013 2:02 pm

      Hi Liz, I’m new to your blog and just had to thank you for sharing your experience. Your posts helped me sympathize with secondary infertility in a way I wasn’t able to before. My husband and I have been trying or our first baby for almost 2 years. We’ve just failed our third IUI (inseminations for those who don’t know) and now we’re gearing up for our first IVF in August. It is awful. And, I have to admit that I thought I had it “worse” than women struggling with secondary infertility. I now understand how silly that is. Thank you. congratulations!!

      to answer your question, here is what I helping me get by:
      – I deactivated Facebook
      – I told our friends and family
      – I distanced myself from friends or nded frindships with those who hurt me with their comments (just adopt, just relax, have some wine, it’s not meant to be, put your feet up, etc)
      -I started going to a therapist specializing in infertility

      • Liz Stanley said… May 31, 2013 6:58 pm

        Thank you Katie for sharing your ideas on how you coped. My therapist had mentioned to not feel bad distancing myself from relationships that were painful. But in the long run I felt like being really open with people helped the most and allowed me the best support network. Good luck with your process!

        • Nettie Atkisson said… June 2, 2013 9:32 pm

          What a well written essay Liz. Thanks. My friend had two children no problem. Then for 8 years they tried everything. Doctors had not been able to give them an explanation. She finally got pregnant with twins and lost them both. The worst comment for her was when people would say ” Just stop thinking about it”. ” How can I stop thinking about the deepest yearning of my soul, especially when I have to take shots, go to constant appointments and adjust everything in my life while I wait in limbo”. My dears, it just plain stinks. Best wishes to you all!

    13. Jenny also said… May 31, 2013 1:58 pm

      A HUGE shout out for age gaps here. My boys are almost exactly 4 years apart and it is perfect or our family. The older one LOVES, and is so proud of, being a big brother and his little bro adores him. No sibling rivalry. They are 7 and 3 and while at very different developmental stages are able to find many things to play together; “rough stuff” being the #1 favorite activity. Other highlights include the heart melting perfectness of big brother reading favorite picture books to the little guy and also paying the older one to “babysit” with cartoons and cereal on weekend morning so we can get an extra 30 minutes to snooze.

      I have a twin brother and a brother who is 7.5 years younger than us. While very different relationships I love and value them both so much; could not image life without either of them. And funny thing is now that my “baby brother” is 32 and I’m 40 he is somehow catching up with me. We’re both married grownups =).

      • Liz Stanley said… May 31, 2013 7:07 pm

        Thats so great to hear- it makes me excited for henry’s relationship with this little baby coming!

    14. Chelle said… May 31, 2013 11:41 am

      Thank you for sharing your story. I’m an only child due to secondary infertility. First of all, you’re right – there’s a lot that I missed, and it can be really lonely. I try not to be jealous of friends/cousins/blogsters(!) with big happy families.

      But, without meaning to diminish your grief in any way, I want to reassure you that I have had (I’m 52) a unique, rich, and rewarding family experience. My parents “adopted” some of my cousins, focusing on enriching their lives. As a result, I’m very close to my cousins. Plus, I had one-on-one relationships with great-grandparents, grandparents and aunts/uncles that my cousins (who always had other kids to play with/distract them) didn’t get.

      We never lived near other family members, so church friends and neighbors were extended family, too. Still are.

      I’ve thought about this life a lot. It’s so different from my friends – all of whom are Mormon or Catholic, with big baby-boomer families. I firmly believe that my only childness was not an accident. That the circumstances of my family prepared me (and my parents) for future experiences in ways that we didn’t understand. My parents have had such an influence on others, and they would not have had the inclination, nor the monetary means, to do so if they’d had the big family that they wanted.

      I’ll stop there. Again, I don’t want you to think that I’m offering advice. I just understand your family dynamic – my parents expressed that same pain.

      • Liz Stanley said… May 31, 2013 7:04 pm

        Thank you SO Much for sharing this, I think it’s great to hear that you’ve had a wonderful experience as a only child and I’m sure it helps a ton for many of us to hear that! I think the whole idea was it was so foreign to our experience that it was hard to imagine a happy childhood without siblings but you’re right- each path is different and happy in its own way. thank you, xoxo

        • Jennifer said… June 2, 2013 3:42 pm

          Similar situation: my mother’s delivery of me was difficult and it was suggested she not try for more. In recent years, my parents told me that they came close to adopting a baby from a local pregnant teenager. I was stunned to find this out in my thirties!

          Ultimately my father was not into adopting for whatever reason. He felt our family was just right as it was. Through the years, my mother has nearly constantly brought up feeling guilty for me being an only child. To be frank, it drives me bonkers. My life to date has been wonderful.

    15. Kendra said… May 31, 2013 11:10 am

      My husband and I struggled with secondary infertility a decade ago and what really helped me was forcing myself to envision our lives with only one child. I told myself, “ok, if this is my reality, what does it look like?” And I made a list of goals for our lives if that was the direction it took. There were a lot of tears involved, it took a while, and much of it was silly stuff (i.e. build a screened porch, go to Disney), but I really think it helped to see and plan for another reality that differed so much from my dream.

      • Liz Stanley said… May 31, 2013 7:02 pm

        That’s such a great idea, thank you for sharing it!

    16. Mary {My Life in Scotland} said… May 31, 2013 11:08 am

      My son is two and a half. We tried for a year and a half to get pregnant with him. That is really considered “normal.” I didn’t worry about it. It was our first and I just didn’t know what to expect. We’ve been trying for 2 yrs to get pregnant again and it isn’t happening. It’s different this time. I’m seeing my son grow older and all of his friends now have siblings.

      The hardest part for me is two things: 1. Seeing my son alone and wanting a playmate that I wish I could give him. 2. When people say things.

      I had a “friend” as me if it hurt to be around her 4 children since I can’t have more. Well, it isn’t that I can’t have more I just don’t yet. We’re trying but I guess she’s written me off as infertile forever. Then it hurt me that she thought being around children would hurt me. It doesn’t hurt me. I’m not a jealous person {or bitter–not yet} and I love that my “friends” are having children. Good for them. But, to think I didn’t want to be around them because they had kids and I don’t….well, it just hurt. When I’m the last to know about their pregnancy because they don’t want to hurt me actually hurts worse. Just treat me like everybody else.

      Prayers for you and for me.

      • Liz Stanley said… May 31, 2013 7:01 pm

        Yeah I didn’t like the feeling that people were tip toeing around me either. I had a few friends for wait a while to tell me they were pregnant and that really made me feel bad. I know it’s hard to know what to say though and I understood they were just trying to be sensitive to me

    17. Dee Wilcox said… May 31, 2013 10:43 am

      Liz, thank you so much for sharing this mini-series. I had never heard the term “secondary infertility,” but that seems to be the path my husband and I are on. We have a two and a half year old, and we’re trying for baby #2. It’s… not working so far. It hasn’t been a year yet, but I feel like we’re looking at a long, dark road ahead, and my heart is so sad. I know that joy will come, and I’m trying to somehow hang on to my joy even in this season. I am so thankful for the child I have, but I still grieve for the one that is yet to be.

    18. Jennifer said… May 31, 2013 10:42 am

      Dear Liz,
      I’m so glad you had the courage and openness to share your secondary infertility story. Like you, we had no trouble conceiving our first. I went through a (shorter) bout of secondary infertility, and it was completely maddening in every way. At the times I was most down and in need of support, I could find none. Even my family insisted I should “just be happy” I already had a healthy child, as if wanting a sibling for her meant that I didn’t love her enough. Once this was put to me so harshly that I still feel the sting of it, harsh enough to make me wonder if somehow it were true. I felt lost and hopeless much of the time, wondering if I was selfish or just plain ungrateful for the life I had when so many other women struggle to even have one baby. I didn’t even know if secondary infertility was real or if it applied to us, and even if it did, what we could do given my own conflicting emotions about how my body was behaving (or not behaving). It was such a struggle that when we did see a positive pregnancy test, my husband didn’t even get excited. He calmly said I shouldn’t get too attached to the idea, which made me furious and hurt (though I know it was his way of protecting himself from his own hurt). I am very lucky that my story had a very happy ending. I am thankful to have experienced it, because it enabled me to support a girlfriend when she went through it too. I think people don’t know, don’t hear, don’t understand the pain of secondary infertility, which makes your telling more important. Thank you!

      • Liz Stanley said… May 31, 2013 10:56 am

        Oh yes, the ‘just be happy with one’ is a serious source of guilt! it’s such a conflicting mix of emotions to be so happy with your child but desperately sad about not having another.

    19. b said… May 31, 2013 10:36 am

      thank you so much for sharing. i buried our son two weeks ago. i delivered him spontaneously at 4.5 months. i was devastated. we struggled mightily to get pregnant with our first son who is now almost 4 and was shocked and beyond amazed when i got pregnant naturally with my 2nd. as all my friends are pregnant or recently delivered their 2nd children, it has been excruciating to see them and to realize that there will be no baby for me in the coming months. i am so sad that i can’t give my son a little brother. he was so excited to be a big brother. thank you for making me feel like (1) i’m not completely alone in this grief and (2) that the age gap will all work if we’re able to have another.

      • Liz Stanley said… May 31, 2013 10:55 am

        I’m so so so sorry about your loss. I can’t imagine what you guys are going through. Thank you so much for sharing your story and my prayers are with you guys. xoxo

    20. Mariah said… May 31, 2013 9:42 am

      Hi Liz,

      How your story resonates with my own! My only son is 9! Nine! I can hardly believe it. Never in my wildest or insane dreams did I think we’d have an only child. But here we are, veterans of 4 IVF attempts and an international adoption that went awry and still where we started. I struggle to find peach with it most days. My son begs for a sibling. He’s even relented and now says even if it’s a sister he still wants a sibling. ha! Thanks for sharing the journey. It really is tough and a place where misunderstanding is all too common. I hate when people ask me, ‘so you don’t want more kids?’ Ugh. I feel like delving into the 2 hour explanation of how hard we’ve worked to have more kids. But, most the time I don’t. Most the time I just smile and say ‘desperately.’ I think the sadness in my eyes tell the rest of the story.

      • Liz Stanley said… May 31, 2013 10:52 am

        Oh my goodness, what a long road you guys have had. My heart goes out to you–hope the adoption process results in a happy ending

    21. Dianna said… May 31, 2013 7:05 am

      Liz, while I have not personally struggled with this issue, the insight you provide is so helpful as I have a very dear friend who is. I applaud your courage in sharing your journey and willingness to address a very serious and personal subject. Wishing you all the best and a safe and healthy pregnancy!

    22. Bethie said… May 31, 2013 6:55 am

      Hi Liz,
      I am also dealing with secondary infertility and it is so helpful to know that I’m not alone. It is such a secretive subject. I’ve had three miscarriages over the last year-and-a-half and am currently in early pregnancy with my fourth pregnancy since having my daughter two-and-a-half years ago. I am also watching all my friends get pregnant and have beautiful healthy siblings for their kids and it breaks my heart that I can’t join them. For a while I even went through a phase where I couldn’t see a pregnant woman without wanting to glare at her. And I had to block all my pregnant friends on Facebook who inevitably whined and moaned about their pregnancy symptoms. (That still makes me so angry!) So many friends presume I don’t want to talk about it because it is painful, but then it becomes this elephant in the room. Actually, as an attempt to find a community of other women struggling with miscarriage, I even started a little blog called “A Link in a Chain” from a quote a friend of mine (who miscarried at seven months) sent me:

      “The pain you feel is like a link in a chain to all the other mothers who know, and who share your pain. We all carry it together, and we try to help lighten it for each other.”

      I haven’t done anything with it yet (it is so scary to think about miscarriage when I’m pregnant!) but I have a few submissions to add when I’m ready.

      Anyway, I am so heartbroken that you’ve gone through this, but so happy for your current pregnancy. Thank you so much for sharing and starting this conversation. It really helps all of us to feel less alone.

      -Bethie

      • Liz Stanley said… May 31, 2013 10:51 am

        Oh yes, facebook is not a great place for the infertile. I had to avoid it for a while as well

    23. Week In Review | Pencil Shavings Studio said… May 31, 2013 3:58 am

      […] Liz Stanley’s posts on her four-year journey with secondary infertility are a balm for my soul. Keep on writing, brave sister in infertility! […]

    24. Cath said… May 31, 2013 12:51 am

      I am typing with one hand while I breastfeed my 7month old daughter. She has a sister who is 6. The hardest thing is people accusing you (without asking anything just assuming) of almost being neglectful by not providing a sibling!

      But now I am really happy with the age gap! My 6 yer old loves her sister so much and is so helpful and understanding. She takes her job as big sister very seriously and the baby just absolutely adores. The age gap can be a wonderful thing. Xxx

      • Liz Stanley said… May 31, 2013 10:38 am

        yeah! I think Henry will be a fantastic older brother too, I can’t wait!

    25. Abby said… May 30, 2013 7:41 pm

      This was nice to read and so timely. So, thank you!

    26. courtney said… May 30, 2013 7:18 pm

      I also have a five year-old and am just now pregnant with our second, also due in November! Our path to this pregnancy was shorter, but also very painful, including a miscarriage and so long trying with nothing happening.
      I think the hardest parts were what you mentioned– watching my daughter get older by the day and seeing that gap between her and a hypothetical sibling grow. When I realized my daughter wouldn’t get to be in high school with her younger sibling, I cried. I wanted for her what I had with my siblings. Something that was a bit different for me was that my transition to motherhood was, in the first place, very difficult. It did not feel natural to me, and it took me a long time to feel like I wanted to do it again. So then, when we couldn’t get pregnant for a long time, I felt so guilty for not having enjoyed it from the get-go. I would think “if I had known I could only have one, I would have relished every second! what’s wrong with me??” I was surprised by how much I felt like a failure as a woman. I definitely remember when my last friend with only one child my daughter’s age announced she was pregnant, and it was that same line over and over “what’s wrong with me?” I felt like an outsider and like I didn’t belong in the Mom Club anymore.
      It was helpful talking about my miscarriage with friends who had experienced that. Even if they weren’t struggling to get pregnant, if they understood the pain of a miscarriage, it helped me feel like I was still part of the Woman Club, at least. I also applied to grad school, so it helped to have a project and plan for the future to get my mind off of imagining a baby in the future. I got in, too! So now I get to do baby and grad school at the same time. Crazy! but I’ll take it.
      I’m so happy for you and your family. Thank you for talking openly about this. It’s baffling to me why we keep these things so hidden and quiet.

      • Liz Stanley said… May 31, 2013 10:33 am

        I agree on all accounts!! So fun to see we are on the same path and the vest best of luck. I think talking about it openly is what helps too. Hate the elephant in the room relationships I had- and my fault too! I should have been more open about it from the start

    27. Catherine said… May 30, 2013 6:42 pm

      I am so happy for you. Your posts have really moved me to tears. I can say that my boys are four years apart due to three miscarriages. I fretted over their age difference but they love each other and are the best of friends at age six and two. Your new little one will be such a gift to you, your husband and your son. Congratulations to you all!

      • Liz Stanley said… May 31, 2013 10:30 am

        So glad to hear- I love hearing stories about age gaps working!

    28. Bec said… May 30, 2013 6:09 pm

      My story is a little different, but not really. : )~ (as any of us who’ve dealt with infertility know – it sucks, regardless of the details!)
      My 2nd child … my miracle … is now 6 months old.
      SOOOOO very happy for you.
      I know exactly the JOY you must be feeling!
      Hooray!!!! God is so good. :-)
      Bec

    29. Emily said… May 30, 2013 5:38 pm

      I read your three posts today while on the accupuncture table. I came home to the message that our FET cycle is postponed because of cysts. This is our third IVF in a year after 3 iuis and my second laparoscopy for endo. I am blessed with a three-year-old, conceived naturally after a year + of fertility treatments and a summer off to recover emotionally and physically. I have faith that we will eventually get our second miracle, but what I struggle with, and what brings me to my knees, are the growing years inevitably between my children. I haven’t found anyone to connect with over this issue, and so this post resonates with me tremendously. It gives me so much anxiety, and my husband, family and friends don’t get it. With every passing month, I calculate potential due date and the age difference that would separate the two. I am so happy for you. I have often wondered, knowing about your large families, whether this was a desired singleton or whether there was something else at play. Your strength to share your journey is commendable, and I thank you, because it has helped my hurting heart this evening.

      • Liz Stanley said… May 31, 2013 10:29 am

        You’re so sweet, making me tear up! So glad to hear I’m not the only one with serious age gap anxiety. I kind of thought I was stubborn and crazy about it. The very best of luck, Emily xoxo

    30. kate said… May 30, 2013 5:26 pm

      Thanks for writing this today. Sad to say, but I could have written this. You echoed my thoughts nearly exactly. I have an almost 3 1/2 yr old son, we have been trying for two years and have had too many losses in two years to count. I am able to get pregnant via IUI/IVF but can not sustain it. I found out today that our last and final IVF, which was a surprise positive result, is almost certainly not viable. I am devastated. We also had primary infertility but I conceived my son via my 2nd IUI. I never imagined trying for another would yield these results and that I would be where I am now. I too, come from a large family and one child too me is such a foreign concept. I too, am finding it incredibly painful to see all my “mommy friends” have second children. I feel like I am not a part of this new gang. I also hate that I feel their pity. Everything you wrote resonated deeply. I wish I could say I have hope but I am about to be 42 and I think, at least today, my hope is gone.

      And as an FYI for others who have had sons: I did immunological testing and found out that I tested positive for antibodies on a gene, HLA DRB 1, that can prevent future pregnancies from happening or being viable. This can happen to women who have had a male child. Basically, the male antibodies stay in a woman’s body thus preventing or attacking a pregnancy. Interestingly, of those who test positive and go on to get pregnant, 90% have a girl.

      • Liz Stanley said… May 31, 2013 10:25 am

        I’m so so sorry for your losses. Arg, how frustrating that must be. SO interesting about the immune stuff. I’d heard about immune testing before but was too committed to our path to try that route. Maybe we’ll have a girl then?? fingers crossed!!!

    31. Nina said… May 30, 2013 3:22 pm

      My husband and I thought that we wouldn’t have a problem dealing with infertility because we are both doctors and we’re ‘so logical’. But…
      It was hard to have friends tell me that they got pregnant the first week they started trying. I kept thinking, “lie to me! have some compassion and just lie!”.
      It was hard when my husband and I realized the toll it had taken on our sex life. One day we, after we had had this passionate, spontaneous afternoon sex, I realized that we hadn’t really enjoyed the act in over a year.
      But the hardest moments were seeing my grandmother and thinking about the long line of great women that I came from. I felt like I was dropping the torch.

      • Liz Stanley said… May 31, 2013 10:24 am

        I was talking to a dr a couple years ago who was planning him and his dr wife’s pregnancy plan and was talking about how they’ll get pregnant really quick in between her residency or something and i was kind of annoyed– first of all , if there is a magic drug give it to me, second, i really hope you do because that kind of expectation is hard to live up to!

        It’s hard to think of dropping the ball too when it comes to our long heritage of large families. But everyone has their trials, some are just more apparent than others! I had that this age year gap is so PERMANENT though. Part of me wishes we had had a harder time getting pregnant the first time so we would have been more aggressive and addressed this problem earlier. such a mixed bag of emotions for sure

    32. Tanya said… May 30, 2013 3:09 pm

      Liz, thank you for sharing. I’m just a single gal with no babies, but emotion is universal, and what you’ve shared really moves me. I hope it has helped you to be able to talk about this with your blogging community – it certainly has made me feel good to know that there are strong women like you out there who aren’t afraid to talk about the tough stuff of life. Sending you and your family lots of love!

      Tanya (the-wonderist.com)

    33. Julie said… May 30, 2013 2:20 pm

      Thank you for sharing your story. It makes me sad to think that you were turned away from support groups! I am nearing the 2 year mark on our journey, and it has definitely changed me (though, I’m not yet certain how…). My husband and I tried for a year for our first, and after that year we found out (due to male factor infertility) IVF was our only option. As you know, its a painful and overwhelming experience, but it worked for us. Unfortunately, at 12 weeks we lost our baby. We are currently gearing up for our first FET. I’m cautiously hopeful, and know that I’ll be terrified when/if I become pregnant again. I wish people would realize that neither of our stories are worst than the other, primary or secondary, with or without other children, any number of losses, what we have lived through, the love and innocence we’ve lost is significant, but unquantifiable. I want to tell you that your story makes me feel less alone and gives me hope. And I need all the hope I can get. Thank you.

      • Liz Stanley said… May 31, 2013 10:20 am

        I agree -when you hear someone’s trials you immediately kind of weigh them against your own, which I think it harmful and causes judgement. Loss is loss. it’s hard for everyone, not matter what it was. Sorry for your loss and good luck on your journey Julie

    34. Quiana said… May 30, 2013 2:19 pm

      “We talked about our struggle pretty openly with him (“for some people it’s easy to have babies, but for us it’s hard”), but my heart still pained for his perceived loneliness.” This really stuck out to me because there are 8, 10 and 12 years between me and my siblings – I’m the oldest and remember my mom being very open with me as well about her secondary infertility. I really appreciated this and felt more connected to my mom because of it. Thank you for sharing your story.

      • Liz Stanley said… May 31, 2013 10:16 am

        I debated but I’m glad we were honest. Plus, it makes the birds and bees talk easier since he thinks I get pregnant from drugs and dr appointments (which technically I do– no sex needed!)

    35. Rischel said… May 30, 2013 1:19 pm

      Liz, thank you for being so honest. When I was diagnosed with an infertility condition I was so angry. Angry for not trying sooner, angry that most of my friends were moms or becoming moms, angry that I was working my stupid job and just wanted to be a mom. It was so hard for me not to dwell on my anger all the time because every aspect of my life reminded me that I wasn’t what I wanted to be, a mom. And then I felt guilty for being angry. And I felt really guilty that it was my problem, and it was affecting my spouse’s life. Obviously, treatment worked for us, but that time was the biggest challenge of my life. I am sorry you had to go through that same anger, and for even longer. I didn’t deal with infertility well, I am just glad I didn’t have to live through infertility for very long, or I think I would be a very different, and a very bitter person.

      • Liz Stanley said… May 31, 2013 10:14 am

        Rischel, I had not idea! It’s easy to become bitter and angry, I still fight against those feelings all the time. I’ve heard people say they’re able to overcome it and grateful for this trial, but I haven’t gotten there yet!

    36. Karen said… May 30, 2013 12:28 pm

      I’m so glad you wrote this. I have never heard the term “secondary infertility” but the second I saw terms I knew it described what we’re going through. We have a 3.5 year old and have been trying for a second for over two years. I am on round 3 of IUI and found out today that it wasn’t successful. Despite having gone through the disappointments each month over 20 times now, there is an added hope when you have a medical intervention that makes the blows even harder. And the ache in my heart wanting a sibling for my daughter– that at times is unbearable. I often feel guilty for being so upset about our situation while we already have a child. But we are all after the same thing. Thank you for sharing your experience and hopeful story, and for giving a voice to this often not talked about side of fertility.

      • Liz Stanley said… May 30, 2013 12:31 pm

        Ugg, so sorry about those failed IUIs. It’s true. As much as I didn’t want to think about money making a difference in my emotional state, it’s just such a huge investment it’s hard to not be more hopeful. The very best of luck, hang in there. It’ll work out eventually.

    37. kahcj said… May 30, 2013 12:20 pm

      I completely agree and can relate to everything you have said here. I had the same exact story as yours, my oldest being about 5.5 yrs when my second came along. Then (with IUI’s) I had 3 more, each about 2 years apart. And now? With the help of IVF I am expecting #5 and #6 – twins. We are beyond excited. Hang in there. Your family will grow, it just takes more work for people like us! And congratulations!!!!!

      • Liz Stanley said… May 30, 2013 12:33 pm

        So exciting! I was secretly hoping it was twins– how wonderful to hear such a success story :)

    38. Jill said… May 30, 2013 10:39 am

      Thank you for sharing your story, Liz. We suffered from primary infertility, then after two years and a few IUI’s, got pregnant and had a beautiful little boy. He’s now 3 and I long to give him a sibling too, but it hasn’t happened yet. We are somewhat hesitant to go the medical route again this time, 1. because our insurance is different now and doesn’t help cover the cost like it did before and 2. it was such an emotional roller coaster, I’m a bit scared. We did manage to conceive again last summer, but that unfortunately ended in a miscarriage. The other factor is my age (38 next month), not quite the most fertile time in ones life.
      I think the hardest part for me is people saying “when are you going to give him a sibling?” or “when are you going to have another one?” And especially when it’s from people who you don’t know very well, so you don’t want to go into detail. I sometimes feel like people think I’m selfish for not having another child, but I’m trying to not take it too personally.
      Congratulations on your pregnancy and I wish you a healthy and enjoyable ride!

      • Liz Stanley said… May 30, 2013 12:17 pm

        I agree, those are annoying questions. People kind of stopped asking them when our son was around 4, either assuming we didn’t want any more or were having problems having another, or having problems in our marriage (that last one sounds weird but i did worry people would think that was the reason we we weren’t having another!)

    39. Erin said… May 30, 2013 9:59 am

      I haven’t shared your struggle with secondary infertility, although I can totally relate to your pain and guilt. I desperately want another child, but my husband does not. I wish there was a support group for people in this situation. Thank you for sharing your story.

      • Liz Stanley said… May 30, 2013 12:18 pm

        That is a really unique situation, I think it’s similar to a lot of ways- the loss of a dream for your family! Thanks for your openness about it

    40. Sarah Robertson said… May 30, 2013 9:30 am

      Thank you for sharing, Liz! You are an awesome mother and person. I’m so happy that you were finally able to add another little one to your family!

    41. Nicole said… May 30, 2013 9:23 am

      The hardest part for me is every month that goes by and I know my daughter is that much older than her to-be sibling. I am actually 7 and 5 years younger than my sisters and we are very close. But even with that daily reminder I find myself counting and figuring…if this is the month how far apart will they be? What if it doesn’t work this month?

      Thankfully I have a husband who is very close is age to his siblings and reminds me that there are also downsides to having siblings so close…things I didn’t experience with older siblings.

      I have had two miscarriages, which were awful, but after my first one I had a thought that I go back to a lot, which is, my daughter must need us to herself a little longer. When I think of it that way it calms me down. Maybe because it allows me to focus on the benefits she receives by being an only child for now.

      I’m so thankful for you sharing your story.

      • Liz Stanley said… May 30, 2013 12:20 pm

        Sometimes I have to remind myself of the downsides too, the crazy chaos of having lots of littles in the home. Certainly I can’t ignore the one upside of this situation for my work and the ease of our day to day life, but in the long run those things are of course trivial compared to my desire to have another child

        • Nicole said… May 30, 2013 1:12 pm

          I can certainly understand. So happy for you and your expanding family!

    42. Kaitlin said… May 30, 2013 9:21 am

      This was beautifully written and moved me. I’m all emotional and teary eyed now. I am just beginning to try to conceive but it’s been a long journey to even get here. Other people can just accidentally get pregnant and for others, like me, it’s a planning process. I have a disease that I take a pill for that would harm baby. So I have to be taken off that and onto a harsh beta blocker that makes my scalp tingle among other odd side effects. I don’t know how long I will be able to breast feed and I don’t know if I could pass this disease to my child. So many uncertainties on top of all the normal ones. My husband wants one of our own so bad and I do too but I would adopt just as easily. It’s scary to be so alone in a world that’s so full. Not one of my friends understands and my mom is just so pushy with the grandma stuff. It was so nice to read that I am not alone. People have struggles all the time and its how they deal with them that matters. Thank you for being so open and sharing this with everyone. Good luck on your journey. I know you’ll get there someday! Positive thoughts equal positive outcomes.

      • Liz Stanley said… May 30, 2013 12:24 pm

        It was emotional to write, thank you for your kind words. Your situation sounds difficult as well- I hope you can find some answers and success in your journey. xoxo

    43. Becky said… May 30, 2013 9:10 am

      This post is so beautifully written! Thank you for sharing and being so open, I know how hard that is (especially to be so public)! It just plain stinks, doesn’t it? No way around it. I couldn’t agree more with ‘The painful reminder was intrinsically woven into every thread of my day to day life.”…and “Guilt and grief for something intangible all tied up in a growing beautiful boy whom I loved more than anything.” It fits all those dark feelings perfectly.

      And the age gap too! That’s the other thing….as time passes (holidays, birthdays, etc.), I found myself recalculating…well next year at this time we could have a two month old….and so on.

      I will say though, as painful as it has been, I’ve never grown so much as a mom, woman, person, Christ follower. I’ve tapped in to parts of me, and parts of Him that I didn’t know existed.

      I plan to pass this post on to friends and family as it sums all the messy feelings though secondary infertility perfectly. I know it will give them insight as to how it all feels.

      SO thrilled for you and hope our 4th family member joins us soon, too. Blessings to you and praying for a healthy pregnancy!

      • Liz Stanley said… May 30, 2013 12:27 pm

        I hope to look back and see myself as growing from this but all I can see now is a mountain I climbed that I hope no one ever has to climb again!! I certainly have a much greater appreciation for pregnancy and the miracle of conception for sure. The age gap thing will be a constant reminder forever of our struggle these past few years though- we can’t ever change that

    44. Stephanie said… May 30, 2013 8:47 am

      Liz, you wrote this post so beautifully! Reading your words, I felt buoyed by our shared experience with secondary infertility and the realization that, yes, there are people who understand! My son is also five and a half and I’m nearly six months pregnant with our second. I couldn’t help but cry when I read what you wrote about Henry’s amazing milestones also being painful reminders. How true! Throughout our struggle I have always felt the same way: that being a mom was one of the most painful and especially guilty reminders of our inability to conceive again. I am so overjoyed to be pregnant now, but I have realized that the anxiety that our struggle created is now such a part of my pregnancy. At times I become so overwhelmed by the miracle of it all that I find it difficult to even enjoy being pregnant. I think the isolation secondary infertility causes (even between our own mates!) leaves a mark on our hearts forever. But, reading your post made my own heart soften and realize that my story is shared by so many other women. I related to every part of your story. This post freed me from a lot of the guilt and sadness I still felt about our experience. Thanks so very much.

      • Liz Stanley said… May 30, 2013 12:23 pm

        Oh my goodness this made me tear up a little. So glad to hear you have felt the same and so wonderful to see us both in a similar situation. I too have a hard time enjoying this pregnancy. Every time I start to feel excited I panic and think about how much more painful it will be if I lost this child so I try to not think much about it either way. Perhaps when we find out the gender in a couple weeks we can start to imagine our life with a new baby but until then i’m all anxiety and panic! Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy. thanks so much for your note xoxo

    45. Mal said… May 30, 2013 8:03 am

      Thank you for sharing. It’s strengthening to know you’re not alone. My husband and I have been trying to have our first child for almost two years. I recently had surgery to find out what the problem was, as well as for other relating issues. Once we found out our chances are slim to none (at least without intervention) I crashed. But after a couple of months of healing, and finding out I’m not alone, and realizing it’s not my timeline but the Lords, I’m actually happier than I’ve been in years. Sometimes people will unknowingly make a comment (like “see what you have to look forward to” when their kid does something wrong that will send me wanting to scream “more than anything!”). But then it will pass, and I can take courage in remembering my path to walk is not theirs.

      • Liz Stanley said… May 30, 2013 8:47 am

        The worst is, “you can have one of mine!”. Thanks for your comment, best of luck on your struggle. I’m happy to hear you are able to come to peace with it. That’s wonderful xoxo

    46. Katie B said… May 30, 2013 6:48 am

      Thank you for writing this – this is very much how I feel about my own secondary infertility, and I think is difficult for people “outside” the problem to understand. My daughter is a perfect gift, but I really thought she would have a sibling by now. Going to the playground that seems to be filled with other mothers shepherding one or two kids younger than her while very pregnant has become quite painful – like you, I think, this fear that she will not have a sibling, and the knowledge that she won’t have siblings like I did (fairly close in age) is the hardest part. I don’t necessarily like to talk about it, but I have found I feel a bit better when family and close friends at least know what’s going on. It is lonely, and I am grateful that you were willing to write about your experiences and make it a little less so.

      • Liz Stanley said… May 30, 2013 8:48 am

        I agree, when I’m open with family/friends it makes the bitterness and pain subside. Especially family and friends that echoed my frustration and pain and didn’t ignore it because they didn’t know what to say. the best kinds of friends.

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