We have been reading “When the Cradle is Empty” by John and Sylvia Van Regenmorter. This week we look at Chapter 12: Secondary Infertility: A Misunderstood Pain. I am quite familiar with secondary infertility although I was unfamiliar with this term for years. Secondary infertility refers to the inability to have a baby, or carry a baby to live birth, after already having a baby. Sometimes it is a repeat of infertility (you had trouble having your first one and now are having trouble again) but often there were no problems conceiving the first baby and now there is.
The questions the authors posed are specific to secondary infertility.
1. “If I have one child, I can’t really be infertile, can I?” Yes, it carries the same definition whether you are having trouble conceiving your second, third, fourth…
2. Why do I feel so guilty about wanting another child?” The authors basically said you shouldn’t feel guilty. Wanting more than one child or a family with a few children is your dream. Anytime there is a loss or threatened loss of a dream there is pain.
3. “Why doesn’t anyone understand.” Some do. Some think if it happened once it’s just a matter of time before it happens again. Others will give opinions about “Just be lucky you got one!” “Count your blessings.” But wanting more than one child and encountering infertility is a painful experience. You have a right to your dream.
4. “Are there other challenges associated with secondary infertility?” The authors discuss how you are somewhat displaced. Friends and family may be having their second or third children and ask why you still only have one. You may envy your friends, they may suggest you got it easy with “only one.” If you have to go through treatments you have to find continuing child care to make appointments. You may also have your son or daughter begging you for a baby brother or sister.
5. “What do we tell those who ask if we’re planning to have another child?” One womans response was, “We don’t seem to be able to have any more children, but we trust God’s plan for our family.”
6. “Are there specific resources for those suffering from secondary infertility?” The authors listed two books, “Wanting Another Child: Coping With Secondary Infertility” by Harriet Fishman Simmons and “The Ache for A Child” by Debra Bridwell. They are a little older books but the content is still relevent.
7. “Can we find contentment with just one child?” They quote, “True contentment can only be found in Christ – nothing more, nothing less and nothing else!” Although it may feel like you couldn’t fathom a life without a couple kids there is a way to feel contentment, if that is how it turns out. You may not believe it now but it is possible.
Secondary Infertility is uniquely difficult because I felt so bad for my son. I didn’t want him to grow up without a brother or sister. We want to do what is best for our children and when I was unable to have another baby it was so hard to think what my son was missing out on.
One regret I have was the urgency I felt in having them so close together. Although it is a valid concern, I have been pleasantly surprised how all my kids have found common ground in some way even though their ages are 4-13.
Trust God. Follow the same guidelines if you having infertility the first time, so if it has been more than a year of trying get help! Find someone who has had a similar experience and acknowledge your real loss. Hopefully God just has a different time table for you and your family.