It Still Hurts – A Story of Temporary Secondary Infertility

About this time last year I found out I was pregnant with our fourth child.

Since I was at the tail end of treatment for depression, my doctor let me instantly wean off my meds. Morning sickness plus the awful disorienting feeling I experienced from quitting antidepressants was a rough combination.

But it was welcome suffering compared to the pain of waiting for a child that would not come.

Trouble Getting Pregnant

In January 2016 my daughter Fawn turned one year old.

My husband and I decided we could go for another child if God wanted right now. Or not, y’know. Whatevs.

So we made the transition from TTA (trying to avoid) to TTW (trying to whatever).

In my heart, I was really TTC (trying to conceive), but we were pretty easygoing with our charting and timing.

For several months, no baby.

It wasn’t too surprising, seeing as I was still breastfeeding Fawn. But at the same time, it was still mildly surprising since both Fawn and Princess had been conceived while breastfeeding.

It all worked out because we found out my husband’s work conference that summer would be in Cancun (a story for another day).

The CDC was sounding the Zika warning bells, and we didn’t want to take any chances. So we swiftly switched back to TTA.

Summer rolled around, my husband’s conference was over, and Fawn was fully weaned.

By mid-July, we started TTC (trying to conceive) in earnest.

Trying to Conceive

We have a very solid knowledge of NFP (Natural Family Planning), since we’re certified NFP teachers. And we have an in-depth understanding of my own cycle, having charted together since before we were married.

Up to this point, getting pregnant came easy to us.

First try.

Maybe second.

Fertile Myrtle was my name. (Yes, someone actually called me that. To my face.)

Fertile Myrtle Turtle Family Secondary Infertility

But now, July went by, no baby. It’s okay, our timing wasn’t perfect.

August, no baby. Well, people normally don’t get pregnant as quickly as we do, so no big deal.

September, nothing.

October, nothing.

By this time I was scratching my head. Though four months of waiting can be normal for many couples, it was not normal for us.

We took a closer look at our charts and realized something wasn’t quiiiiite right.

Off to the midwife I go.

Depression and Infertility

A thorough checkup and a handful of vials of blood later, I was informed I was suffering from a serious iron deficiency.

I started supplements and adjusted my diet. I knew it would take a while to fix my iron counts, but I was still hopeful.

Two months later, and my cycle was just getting worse. I could see every sign of fertility diminishing. No temperature shift. Hardly any mucus signs. A monthly bleed was about all I had to go by.

In the meantime, I discovered I had been suffering from untreated depression for over a year.

After a very difficult event in my life, I withdrew into myself, destroying my own emotional and physical well-being.

As I sank further into the darkness, my body decided to shut down. Looking back, our best guess is that the anemia and fertility struggles were both results of the depression.

So, onward to antidepressants and counseling.

Waiting for Baby

But the baby in my mind was still top priority. I had a long chat with my midwife about continuing to try to conceive and about the risks of medications for my child.

She prescribed something she felt safe with and assured me that my baby needed a well and healthy mom.

My baby.

You were a longshot.

Every month, my cycles told me you wouldn’t come.

Waiting For Baby - A Story of Temporary Secondary Infertility

But I never stopped thinking about you.

Never stopped hoping for you.

I always made sure you would be safe and cared for. Even when you were just a glimmer in my heart.

People Start Asking Questions

Fawn turned two.

By this time we had been TTW for 4 months and TTC for 6. It was officially the longest gap between our children.

People were starting to wonder.

The months rolled by.

I poured myself into counseling for the sake of my family and my family-to-come. I saw improvements in my mental clarity. Improvements in my emotional state. Improvement in my iron counts.

But no improvement in my charts.

Spring showed up.

It had been 9 months of trying. Now 10.

People were starting to ask.

“Are you ready for another? When is the next baby coming along? How old is your youngest, now?”

She’s two and a half. It was the only question I could answer without fumbling.

I didn’t know what to say. I was torn between pain and guilt.

My depression and iron are improving, why not my fertility? Maybe it never will.

I should be grateful for the 3 kids God already gave me. So many people suffer so much more than me.

Should I admit my pain, or wait to see what happens?

Maybe next month will be the one and I won’t have to explain.

But I knew where that road led. Stuffing my hurt and my feelings led me to depression in the first place.

A Happy Ending

So I began to open up to my closest friends. With tears welling in my eyes, I laid bare my suffering. I admitted to depression. I confessed the longing for more children. I let them in on my pain.

I thank God that He gave me such supportive friends. They didn’t invalidate my pain as I had feared. They hurt with me and prayed for me.

And in July of 2017, in the 13th month TTC (plus 4 months TTW), they were able to rejoice with me.

I had overcome depression and anemia.

I had gotten past my temporary bout of secondary infertility.

The baby in my heart was living in my womb. And now, a year later, baby Legend is snuggled in my arms.

My Story is Not Your story

I find myself asking: Why am I even sharing this?

My suffering was short and mild. My story has a happy ending.

What cause did I have to complain, when others suffer far worse than I?

But I learned something from this trial. I learned that my story is not your story.

Trouble Getting Pregnant - A Story of Temporary Secondary Infertility

I used to be the one who wondered why when I saw the family with a big gap between kids. The family with one child. The married couple with no kids.

I used to be the one flinging mental “shoulds” at people whose circumstances I didn’t understand.

But now I’ve had my bite-sized taste of the pain.

And while I may never fully understand, my perspective has changed.

Now I know that what I see is incomplete. When I look at your life from the outside, I only know part of the truth. I’m tempted to fill in the blanks with my own story, my own life experiences.

But your story is different.

Your story has pain and heartache I can’t see. Your story has crosses and sufferings I cannot guess.

Whether you suffer from depression or infertility or miscarriage or chronic illness, or some other loss or trial, I may never know.

And I’m sorry for assuming.

I’m sorry for filling in the blanks. If nothing else, now I sympathize with how misunderstood you feel.

Having experienced my own sliver of pain, my heart aches for you.

I share my story to reach out to all women, everywhere, who suffer from infertility in small or big ways.

Suffering is Not a Competition

It’s not a competition of who hurts more.

It’s a journey of suffering together and uniting in compassion.

We can hurt with each other. We can hurt for each other. We can come alongside each other in our pain.

Prayer for Infertility - A Story of Temporary Secondary Infertility

We can leave questions unanswered without judging.

We can share our stories without guilt or fear.

We can join in prayer for each other.

Because whatever you’re suffering from, big or small… It. Still. Hurts.

Prayer for Infertility

God our Father, please pour out Your grace on all women who are suffering today.

Send Your comforting presence upon women who suffer from any type of hardship, but especially upon women who suffer from various forms of infertility.

In their suffering, let them feel they are loved by You.

Let them realize they are understood by You.

Let them know they are not alone.

Give them strength to endure this trial. Help them to grow in faith, grace, and virtue. Help them to persevere in the face of uncertainty.

Unite them in their suffering, that they may all grow closer together in fellowship, and closer to You through their shared redemptive suffering.

Heal them, Lord my God. Renew them with Your infinite power and mercy.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Please Stop Suffering In Silence

If you need to open up about your suffering, would like to share your story, ask for prayers, or offer to pray for others who are suffering, please join in the discussion in the comments.

Let’s all lift each other up in prayer today.

It Still Hurts - A Story of Temporary Secondary Infertility

19 thoughts on “It Still Hurts – A Story of Temporary Secondary Infertility

  1. Thank you for your story. It brings up old hurts, but hits home on those feelings. First child wasn’t exactly planned two months after marriage. It took almost a year to get pregnant with the second child. Third came easy. Three happy, healthy boys. Then came the “when are you going for a girl?” We were so busy with the boys, it wasn’t a thought immediately. A couple years later, I started having issues. We were ready to fix those and try one last time, then the unexpected “pre-cancer” diagnosis. It turned from let’s have a baby, to lets have a hysterectomy. I could have tried for one last baby, but it would have been with the watchful eye of an oncologist. So, the surgery was performed. Then, the even worse unexpected came with a final diagnosis of cancer. I am thankful for how things turned out with catching it early, but I count down the days where I will be too old to get the question/comment of going for the girl. There is no easy way to respond because you hate to throw cancer on the person who asked an innocent question. So, I live on trying to make the most out of my life and enjoying every second of my “men.” No one knows the “hurt/pain” in the depths of another’s soul so I try to be more mindful of the baby comments to other people now…

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story, Dana. I’m so sorry you had to endure all that suffering. Thanks be to God you caught the cancer in time, and you’re well enough to enjoy your time with your beautiful family! But, wow what a tough thing to have to remember and try to explain when people ask. This is a great reminder to be mindful, and think before we speak.

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  2. I am so happy you have your Legend. I am so sad that as women we must feel somehow guilty , of failing, or being considered somehow lacking for chemical imbalances in our bodies. Depression, infertility, miscarriage, loss are all things we need to talk about. Bravely and without predjudice. Thank you so much for opening that door to discussion and baring your heart.

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  3. I used to wonder, too. And I used to judge. Now that I’ve been through my own stuff, though, I just tell them they have a beautiful family – and mean it.

    I’m glad you found an answer ❤️

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Sara! I know you will bring comfort to many by sharing your experience. And I especially loved your reflection on how everyone’s stories are different – it’s so true!

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing this part of your story. My husband and I are currently trying (and hoping and praying and pining) for our second child. We got pregnant with Joseph a month after getting married. As he turned one, we decided it was TTW. And as he approached 18 months, we began to TTC. Each month and each period thus far has brought an onslaught of tears. The Facebook announcements of friends and accquaintences sharing the joyful news of their second pregnancies has brought self-doubt and envy that has left a bitter taste in my mouth and a weight in my stomach. The well-meaning comments from family and friends asking if we were ready for another baby or if we were “trying” has brought a quiet anxiety that hums in my head each time I enter a conversation. There has been guilt, too. I’ve chastised myself for hurting and crying, calling to mind the woman I know who after suffering several years of infertility , miscarried her baby. Or the speaker at the conference who shared openly about her seven instances of loss during pregnancy. Or the story of the fatal diagnosis that ended in a mother saying goodbye far to soon. I held my aches up to the light of these crosses, shaming myself for asking for prayers. And perhaps worst of all, I have entertained the lies put in my mind by the Enemy, that the reason for our seeming inability to conceive is tied directly to my inadequacies in mothering the child I DO have. that if I got frustrated less often, was more patient, paid more attention, loved him better, maybe then (and only then) God would give me another baby…and I have been fraught with the despair that because I will never be a perfect mother to Joseph, I may never mother another child again…and maybe that’s what I deserve for all the ways I have and will fail him. I know this isn’t true. I know that believing this perpetuates an idea about my God that is so gravely false, that He is a condeming judge before He is a merciful Father. I know my God, I’ve known His mercy a thousand times over and despite the temptation, I refuse to believe He is anything less than who He says He is. This has given me the strength I need to reach out to a community of faith filled women and humbly ask for their prayers, a request that was met only by love and validation- and which connected me to another momma who is undergoing my same trials. We have talked through our worries and frustrations, reveling in the comfort of reaching out and finding we are not alone after all . And my heart has begun to be softened rather than hardened by this hardship as I learn a new what it means to trust in Jesus, to sing quietly to Him “I shall not want” and mean it. My next baby lives in the hope of my heart as we are bolstered by the prayers of so many. I dont know the timing or the circumstances, but I KNOW God is working all things for good as I strive to trust Him and love Him again and again.
    Your post today has brought me comfort and hope- thank you 🖤

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    1. I’m in tears for you right now, Faith. The hurt you’ve suffered, the guilt and self doubt you’ve endured. I hear my own thoughts echoing in my head as I read your words. It’s a hard hard place to be in.

      Praise God you’ve learned to reject those voices that tempt you to compare, to withdraw, to despair. Thank God you’ve reached out to your friends, and God gave you someone to walk this journey with you. Praise Him for the hope that continues to live in your heart.

      Tonight, I’m adding you to my Rosary intentions. I’m going to pray for you by name, lifting you up, and allowing myself to share in your hurt and your pain. Please know that my compassion and empathy are there for you today. May God continue sending you the graces you need in this trial in your life. Keep going strong. Keep rejecting those lies and temptations from the devil. Keep clinging onto your hope and running back to God.

      Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I pray that it gives others the hope of finding comfort and peace in the midst of their suffering as well, and that it encourages others to reach out for support.

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  6. Thank you for sharing your story and, importantly, understanding that your story is not any one else’s story. My story, unlike yours never had the happy ending of a precious new life. Although, I have been able to mother in other ways, I never had the joy of knowing the new life within and years removed from even the possibility it still hurts. It has made me more aware, as you are now, that we cannot know the truth inside another’s life. Thank you for sharing your beautiful spirit and prayers. I am so happy for you and your Legend. God bless and keep you always.

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