I recently put a call out on social media for contributors for my blog
-Jen from @jen.myunreproductivesystem put her hand up straight away.
I know there are so many people out there struggling to conceive, and hope
you all get something from this shared journey.
When was the first time you heard the term ‘secondary infertility’? Can you explain what it means?
The first time I heard the term Secondary Infertility was through the Instagram Infertility Community. I actually didn’t realise at first there were different types! Secondary Infertility refers to the inability to conceive or carry a child, after previously giving brith.
Did you have trouble conceiving your first born?
We did. It took us almost two years and we were just about to be referred on to a Fertility Specialist, but then we fell pregnant. So while it took a long time, we also didn’t end up requiring any intervention. However, our dates were quite off, so it did highlight we weren’t ovulating “normally”.
What has your journey been like since deciding to try for a second?
Complicated to say the least!
We have had such an intense journey since deciding we didn’t want to waste any time with birth control and began trying when our daughter was 6 months old. That was 7 years ago and sadly we still aren’t much closer to making that dream come true.
We started with a miscarriage a year later, followed by an ectopic pregnancy 9 months after that. That resulted in the loss of my left fallopian tube and we were told a 25% drop in our fertility odds. 3 years, several unhelpful GPs and no real diagnoses later, we were finally referred on to see a specialist. Unfortunately this wasn’t much of a help either. Our specialist didn’t really investigate much and missed some serious issues before commencing our treatment, and over 12 months and $5k worth of treatments later, we still hadn’t achieved another pregnancy.
In January 2017 we were moved again for my husbands work, which led us to our current specialist. From our first meeting I knew we were in the right hands. He had so many questions and plans, he was an action man!
We had an investigative laparoscopy and then another to remove my distended right tube and reposition my cervix. We would now be totally relying on IVF for any future children.
Once given the all clear, we had two cycles of IVF resulting in 3 little 5 day embryos. All 3 have since been transferred and our first two failed to implant. Our third implanted, but unfortunately didn’t progress much further. It was torture going through the high of a positive pregnancy test after all that time, and then the devastating low of the loss.
However, it is a good sign to know we can achieve a successful implantation, which is a wonderful silver lining. This means our doctor is very happy to progress, and we will soon be starting our 4th IVF cycle.
What has been the hardest part?
I would have to say the hardest part would be not being able to provide a sibling for our daughter. She has been so desperate for one ever since she realsied what they were!
We have been very open with her and explained it as much as we can, in the best ways we can, for a 7 year old. It was hard because she really isn’t ready for the sex talk, but needed to know why everyone else her age seems to have siblings and she doesn’t.
The other hard part is just always feeling so alone in my journey. It seems like almost all my friends have completed their families, and I am still sitting here wondering when I’ll get to experience that. While they are enduring sleepless nights, upgrading their cars to fit more car seats, or nursing husbands recovering from vasectomies - I am here enduring hormone injections, follicle scans and the disappointment of the failed cycles.
Don’t get me wrong, my friends are the BEST and couldn’t be more supportive if they tried. It is just that my world took such a dramatic turn from the paths I had always dreamed we’d walk together. Life can get a little lonely when you feel so different to those around you.
How do you handle parenting your daughter, at the same time as trying to work through your infertility?
Honestly? She makes it all worth it.
She makes me stronger, I try harder for her. I want to give her a sibling to love (and, lets be honest, hate on too!) so badly, that the thought of giving up just doesn’t cross my mind.
IVF is tough though, it drains you both physically and emotionally, so it can be hard to be the best Mum I can be when I am feeling so lousy. Luckily I have an amazing husband who really steps up in the hardest times in the cycle.
Any advice you have for anyone else struggling with infertility at the moment?
Some people feel the need to keep IVF and fertility treaments to themselves, which I totally respect, but for us being open has really worked.
Andrew’s workplace is really helpful and understanding when he needs to organize days off without much notice. Our friends and family help out with school runs, dinners and anything else they can. It’s made this journey so much easier.
I was a bit worried about peoples reactions to sharing what I always thought of as a more “secret” journey. But absolutely no one I have shared with has made me feel that it should be that way though. Everyone is so supportive and interested. They have so many questions and almost everyone knows someone who has battled infertility.
So my main advice would be to set up a support team.
That doesn’t mean you have to shout it from the rooftops, but maybe just with close friends and family, your boss and close work colleagues. Even starting an anonymous Instagram account. Insta has a huge 'trying to conceive' and infertility community, just searching those hashtags will introduce thousands of women and you are guaranteed to find many facing the same struggles as you. This can be a lonely journey so find some steps that will help you feel supported.
Secondly find a doctor that makes you feel comfortable. This is such a huge undertaking and you need to have the right doctor for you. You need to trust them, you need to feel they are a part of your team, and you need to feel as relaxed as you can. They (literally!) get so far into your personal business.
You can continue to follow Jen's journey here.
Love her set of IVF Milestone Cards? You can grab them here.