Why is Secondary Infertility Harder to Talk About?
When I met my now husband, I already had three children from a previous marriage. I thought I was done after my third child and made the permanent decision to not have more children. That decision was solidified when I found myself divorced. I didn’t regret a thing about the choice I made. Finding myself as a single mom, one with multiple children and zero streams of income made me ever so grateful that we had decided that three was our limit.
My current husband didn’t have children and didn’t want any…until he did. I had decided before this revelation, and actually before I met him to reverse this permanent decision I had made due to other health factors that I was not made aware could be a possible side effect. Getting to have a baby with my new husband was just a bonus for me.
It was a happy bonus, until it was no longer happy and now something I was desperate to achieve. The surgery to reverse my tubal ligation was successful. We beamed when the surgeon told us he was able to repair both tubes and they were open and functioning. He only requested that we wait to attempt to conceive until I had healed enough to not be in any pain. This surgeon was, and is one of the top surgeons that performs this type of procedure. I did my research and we chose the best, so we were not concerned with if we would get pregnant, but when we would get pregnant.
To our delight it happened quickly. Three months after the surgery, I was staring at two pink lines on a pregnancy test. We were absolutely beside ourselves with joy. A few short weeks later, our joy would be cut short. I experienced my first miscarriage, and just like that, our joy turned to inexplicable grief.
In the following days I realized how uncomfortable miscarriages made other people. How utterly ill equipped people are to handle the news. How hurtful well meaning words can feel when you’re the one experiencing the loss. Words from people I loved most hissed through my ears settling in my stomach like an unsuspecting poison.
“You already have three kids.” “At least you already have kids.” “You don’t need anymore kids anyway.” “At least you know you can still get pregnant.” “Well now you know your surgery worked.” As I fielded these bricks being thrown right at my soul, I imagined what people must think of me. How I could be viewed so selfish as to want something so very natural. A child with my husband. How could I grieve so deeply for something so small? How could these people not see that this wasn’t a thing to be forgotten about, but a child that was wanted beyond measure?
It took us another two and a half years to become pregnant again, and ultimately deliver a very healthy baby boy. The doctors alternated between calling it “unexplained infertility” and “secondary infertility.” It turns out, it’s much more common that people realize. People don’t talk about trying desperately for a second, third or fourth child. People don’t talk about the pregnancy loss that occurs before your belly swells and the kicks can be felt by others. People keep silent about their hurt, either because other people’s words have hurt them worse, or because they think it’ll be easier to deal with the pain of it all.
People will always need other people, and if the grief that is being experienced by someone who has lost a pregnancy makes you uncomfortable, try to hold it. Hold that uncomfortable feeling while simultaneously holding your friend, sister, cousin, or aunt. Hold it and know that simply saying “I’m here for you” is just the right thing to say. We don’t want to compare wounds, we just want to know we aren’t alone. We want to know that whether we have zero or 4 children, pregnancy loss is still loss.