You’ve got one amazing child and now you’re ready to make it a family of four. If you had little or no trouble conceiving the first time, you probably assume it’ll be a piece of cake this time as well. Then after trying to conceive for months – or even a year without any results, a confusing diagnosis of secondary infertility takes you by surprise and leaves you completely unprepared for the journey and multitude of emotions ahead.
Validating Your Feelings
Guilt, anger, depression, grief, isolation, jealousy and self-blame. These are the many emotions that come with infertility – regardless of whether it’s your first or second time trying to conceive. However, the reasons behind these thoughts may have additional layers when you are facing secondary infertility. For example, you might feel guilty for how your state of mind is going to affect your other child. You may also blame yourself for not being able to provide a sibling for your child or a bigger family for your partner. “There is a lot of societal pressure to have more than one child and there is a lot of guilt that parents feel if they can’t fulfill that expectation,” says Reproductive Psychotherapist Kim Kluger-Bell.
Psychotherapist Joanna Flemons adds, “The grief, despair and sometimes desperate panic that sets in from watching your child grow older without a sibling is profound. There isn’t a day that passes where your heart, time, energy and valuable resources aren’t wrapped up in the details of creating that sibling either. You’re fully present with your existing child but equally hurting for the child who hasn’t yet arrived. It’s an emotionally complex season of life, and the burden of grief weighs heavy.”
The implicit societal message is often to be happy with what you have.
Jealously may cause you to isolate yourself from friends who have more than one child. “Infertility is not an easy situation to talk about and support may not be there in the same way it would be for p eople dealing with primary infertility,” Kluger-Bell explains. “It’s often very difficult for others to sympathize with those struggling with secondary infertility, since they already have a child. This can make women feel isolated and unjustified in feeling so unhappy about not being able to have another. The implicit societal message is often to be happy with what you have.”
Fortunately, more people, even celebrities, are opening up about their experience with secondary infertility, offering needed validation and support for the growing number of couples coping with this issue.