Secondary infertility is hard. Very hard. It’s something that my husband and I never expected. We waited eight lovely years to get married and then got pregnant with our son right away. Our friends and family never even had the opportunity to question when we were going to start having kids.
Fast forward four years and here we are: a happy family with one perfect little four year old. But now I totally get it, why people hate being asked about their family planning. I’ve been getting the question almost weekly for at least two years, “When are you guys going to have another one?”
I hear this question and I cringe. Every time. Sometimes I look at the person – who is usually a well-meaning friend, family member, or acquaintance – and I want to scream. Or, cry. I want to look at them and explain that it isn’t okay to ask this question without consideration for what they might not know and what might be going on behind-the-scenes. In our case, we are dealing with secondary infertility. This one, albeit well-meaning question, can bring on a lot of emotion and hurt.
The reality: getting pregnant and having a child isn’t always easy. Just because someone may already have a child (or children) doesn’t mean that having another is guaranteed. It doesn’t mean that you can assume the best and ask this very personal question.
If you’ve never heard of secondary infertility, you’re likely not alone – which is why I think this question is so prevalent in our everyday lives. Secondary infertility is not as common as primary infertility and it’s not spoken about very often.
In fact, a year ago, I was one of those people who had never heard of secondary infertility. I was just a mom trying to have a second kid. I had never considered that it wouldn’t “just happen” right away. I was scared to admit that something wasn’t right. I was scared to question it because what if there was something wrong with me. I was scared to say it out loud because then it was real. But, I knew. I could feel that something wasn’t right.
Now, after countless ovulation tests, pregnancy tests, blood tests, and medical procedures, I have answers. I know that our secondary infertility is caused by endometriosis. While that is hard and it sucks, it’s not the end of my story. I know that it’s not my fault. And I know that there’s hope.
But the hardest part is still the constant reminder and the questions about the second kid that hasn’t happened for us. The questions always seem to come at a time when I least expect them and then a flood emotions, a polite smile, and the ever-so-common response: “I don’t know. We’ll see.”
So, I’m sharing this brief and personal insight into my story for two very important reasons:
- As a reminder that one fairly common question might be much more than you realize. Please, I beg you, don’t ask a person when they are having a child. Pregnancy is a very personal, emotional roller coaster. When someone is having a baby, they’ll tell you. And you can celebrate together. Until then, mums the word.
- For all of the mamas out there wondering why it’s not “just happening” for them. You’re not in this alone. Talk to your partner and talk to your doctor. It’s not easy, but there are things you can do to help complete your family. Or, if you just need someone to talk to, I’m all ears.
There are resources out there to help people with questions about secondary infertility. I encourage you to explore the resources available from our very own UW Health System or Vios Infertility Institute.