Struggling Through Secondary Infertility


No one sets out thinking pregnancy loss, infertility or secondary infertility will be part of their story, but after five losses, these have become some of the defining factors in mine.

Our very first pregnancy resulted in a loss, followed by three perfectly healthy pregnancies and babies. So when we decided to try for a fourth, losing it didn’t even cross my mind. Secondary infertility was not on the radar. Eighteen months later, we’ve now lost four in a row. Next week we should have been welcoming our son home. Instead, we delivered him this summer, tiny and without a heartbeat.

This is the first of my loss due dates that I haven’t been pregnant for, and it feels all the more hopeless for that fact.  After all, it’s easy to say “something beautiful will come of this” when that ‘something’ is the promise of a new baby on the way. But what does “something beautiful” look like when there is no happy pregnancy news and you’re not sure if there ever will be?

I don’t do well wallowing in hard times. Something tells me I’m not alone in this. I like to put on my blinders, ignore the pain of current circumstances, power through, focus on what may be coming next and fast forward a few months.

It’s how I’ve always handled difficult times, and it’s worked relatively well. But if I’m honest, I always come out of it feeling like my future focus has robbed me of some kind of healing or growth. Then a few weeks ago, I sat down to play the piano and cake to a startling realization.

Since high school, this has been my go-to piece to play when I’m sad. The melody is haunting, and it always matches my melancholy mood perfectly.

It’s not a particularly hard piece to play, but there’s a spot right in the middle that always trips me up. When I was fifteen, I decided it wasn’t worth the trouble and I made up my own melody to get through that part. It’s a nice little bandaid and the piece has played just fine for these 20-some years. But tonight, in the thick of Secondary Infertility, I looked at it with new eyes.

After each loss, I’ve just put my head down and powered through the pain. There’s not much choice when you’re raising three kids, but I’ve also always thought “I’ll just get through this and get to what comes next. There will be something beautiful on the other side.” But this particular night, as I played this piece in my sadness, I got to that part I’ve always glossed over and decided I was going to figure it out.

And you know what? It was beautiful. Probably the most beautiful part of the song, and all these years I’ve been missing it because it was too hard. Because there was something easier that followed that I was anxious to get to.

It made me think that maybe I’ve been missing the point all this time — that while rushing through the hard parts is appealing for so many reasons, there is beauty to be found in the struggle of figuring things out…If I’m willing to let myself linger there for however long it takes.

It may be a while before I hear the beautiful melody that follows this pain. Even harder to swallow is that it may be a completely different melody than the one I originally wanted to play. But I hope when I’m 90 and looking back, I’ll see this season we’re in, this “hard part” – as one of the most beautiful times in our lives.

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After being born and raised in the Milwaukee area, Melissa left for college and a Tour de Midwest that took her to Minneapolis, Kansas City and Chicago. She was going to stay in Chicago forever, until she met her husband and he convinced her to move home. And he didn't have to work all that hard to lure her back -- it turns out she was always meant to be back in Milwaukee, if only to cheer on the Packers in peace. Now she lives in Cedarburg with her husband, three young children and a Great Dane. When she's not busy reminding her kids not to try and ride the dog, she's baking and decorating custom cakes for her home bakery, Take The Cake. She enjoys maintaining her personal blog, Mom-edy, as well as exploring the outdoors with her family, and drinking a good glass of wine or Scotch.


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