At a Fork in the Fertility Road: Secondary Infertility

Just about this time last year I was preparing for my 30th birthday. I was doing my best to hide a pregnancy, as friends and family wanted to make plans for a big celebration. But there ended up being no dirty 30 celebration for me. Instead of being inside a bar, I was inside of an operating room at Ochsner undergoing a D&C. It was not quite the 30th birthday celebration that one dreams of.

One week shy of my 31st birthday I find myself at a fork in the fertility road and am struggling with the path to take since it has been just about a year since my miscarriage and more than a year that we have been trying for baby number two. I have what is known as Unexplained Secondary Infertility: the failure to get pregnant after having given birth one or more times. There, I said it.

When I got pregnant with my daughter it took no time at all. I had no reason to think this time would be different. But month after month and no smiley face on a pee stick, I went to my doctor for answers. After many, many tests, this Secondary Infertility thing got real. We have two options.Annelise-Xmas-11

We can undergo fertility treatments, or we can continue the wait and see approach with the realistic idea that we will have only one child.

To date, I have been pretty quiet about this entire situation. I have only talked about it with my closest friends and parents, sharing very little information. And the only reason for that is I really don’t know what to say. And, if I say it, then it makes it more real.

I know this is a decision that we need to make together, but my outlook changes on it daily … and I am not sure I’ll ever reach a decision on my end.

On one hand I am scared that the fertility treatments won’t work and the reality of that is heartbreaking. Of course we are so blessed with our daughter, but it still is very emotional to want a second child and not be able to have one. It crushes me when my daughter asks me why all of her friends have brothers and sisters and she doesn’t. Of course we want to give her a sibling; it is just not happening.

But, I think I am almost more scared for the fertility treatments to work and be pregnant again. The idea of undergoing another miscarriage is one of the things I think about most. I am not sure that I am strong enough to handle that. Or the endless worrying that I am sure accompanies being pregnant following a miscarriage.

This is scary, and this is real. I can’t believe that this is where I find myself. I thought that if I was able to get pregnant so easily the first time that we were in the clear for fertility issues. I didn’t think that if I already had a child that I could be infertile. I am often in denial that this situation is even happening.

The emotional highs and lows that I have experienced in this journey have been hard. One day I feel so defeated and the next day I convince myself that I don’t care. But deep down I know that I do care. Is one child God’s plan for us? Are fertility treatments safe? Could I come to terms with abandoning the idea of having a second child? What happens if I lose another pregnancy? These questions haunt me.

Friends who were due when I was are now holding their babies in their arms, and I am still sorting through this emotional mess with no light at the end of the tunnel.

I do my best to put on my brave face when people say that it is time for a second child. Of course they don’t know because I don’t talk about it. But on occasion I just can’t hold back the tears anymore and my armor shatters. I fall apart and my poor hubby has to put me back together again. I know that he is going through this and his emotions are high as well, but he has been the rock for both of us.

All I can do is hope that by the time I reach my thirty second birthday that I am at peace with our final decision.


  1. Linzy, this was so brave for you to post. I know those emotions all too well. When we were trying and I knew I couldn’t get pregnant normally, I automatically said no to the fertility treatments because I knew I couldn’t bear them. I give kudos to anyone who does them. Emotionally, I knew I couldn’t handle it, which is why we took the adoption road initially.

    I know how hard it is to watch friends become pregnant and welcome their baby, wishing it was you. I really don’t have any words of wisdom except to take help and lean on those who offer to help you. There is really nothing I can say that will make you feel better, except that I know how it feels. I know that well meaning people will say things that will probably make it worse, and all I can suggest is to try to let it roll off your back.

    Hang in there, and always know I’m here for you if you need someone to talk to about it. It’s certainly not easy and it is not something easy to talk about because it is so private and close to the heart… but if you need a shoulder, you know where to find me.

    • Thanks Andie! I really do appreciate it. There is some therapy with putting it out there and not having it weigh on me anymore. My hubby encouraged me to write about it for therapy! The comment that gets me is, If you relax or don’t think about it, then it will happen. That drives me nuts!

  2. Well, I can somewhat relate to your post. When my husband and I first decided it was time to start a family, I got pregnant right away. But, that excitement was dashed when I lost the pregnancy fairly early on. It took a few months to be ready to try again but for whatever reason, it just wasn’t happening.

    About a year later we started considering fertility and decided when we returned from an Alaskan cruise we were taking that we’d explore that further. So, we accepted that, relaxed, went on our vacation and would you believe I got pregnant on the trip?!? I couldn’t believe it and that pregnancy went perfectly.

    A girlfriend I worked with had the same experience after trying for about a year. They took a long weekend trip to NYC and were shocked to discover they were pregnant shortly thereafter after trying for so long. So, my advice would be to try and schedule a little getaway for you and the hubby but TRY not to make it so much about that, but about you two just having some much needed time away together. Think if it happens, great, if not, you have other options to consider and you need this time to prepare yourself for that anyway.

    I’d say there is something to picking a getaway that keeps you busy and mind off of the “task at hand” but who knows… I just really believe the stress of it all really does mess with your body chemistry and sabotages your efforts. So, plan something fun, stay busy, enjoy some wine and relax. What do you have to lose? It is definitely a lot cheaper and a heck of a lot more fun than fertility!

  3. Linzy-I went through a similar experience and lots of others have too; it’s just something that people don’t really talk about. I always assumed we would have two kids. The first child came easily, but when trying to have the second I miscarried, went through fertility treatments, and the second never came. My husband and I reached the point after about a year of fertility treatments that we were done. It was not an easy decision. I read a lot about raising only children and came to the realization that I wasn’t hurting my daughter by not giving her a sibling. I went to therapy and had a safe place to say all the things that needed to come out. I slowly let go of the vision that I had of what was a “family.” For me, it was 2 kids. Now it’s the three of us. And I’m happy that I have the family I have. It’s a slow process and the loss of a child never completely goes away, but acceptance and peace and happiness does come back. Even if things don’t turn out as you’d hoped.

  4. Linzy:

    I am so, so sorry. I have several friends who are struggling with infertility right now and it is so hard. Thank you for saying something–helps make people aware that there’s never a good time to start bugging people about baby number two (or one!). Fertility is something we shouldn’t take for granted, but we all do.

    Hugs to you. Hoping you find peace with whatever decisions you pursue.

  5. Thank you for bringing some local attention to the very real and painful experience of secondary infertility. People (including/especially fellow moms) just do not understand. It must be awful to not be able to have any kids when you want them, and I think almost everyone understands that. But people/other parents saying things like, “Be glad you have one,” or “Well, one is enough!” hurts a lot, even when they’re trying to help. I tried for months while friends were happily on birth control, saw them start trying for #2 or #3, get pregnant, and have babies, all while nothing happened for my very much wanted #2. You are not alone, and I hope that those close to you will acknowledge your sincere pain and disappointment and walk with you on your journey to figuring out what is right for your beautiful family. JoAnna’s comments are very helpful, too.

  6. Linzy,

    So sorry to read you’re going through this. I have two very healthy babies from very healthy and relatively easy pregnancies and then had two still births last year. I couldn’t believe it when the word infertility started flying around at appointments, with doctor appts and then when I was looking for a new doctor with expertise in infertility. It’s incredibly confusing and I’ve never heard the term Secondary Infertility, but your definition fits just right for us – unexplained. It’s so hard, but SO important to share those hard things and I’m thankful you’re wiling to bring awareness to this topic. After all our family went through last year, stories like this really stick with me and I’ll be thinking of you.


    • Linzy, such courage it took for you to post this! Going through a miscarriage is tough, and all your feelings are SO similar to what I faced after a miscarriage on child #2 , but know that you are not alone. Whatever you decide will be all the best for your family. I hope I am not overstepping my boundaries but I highly recommend the book, “What Was Lost” by Elise Barrett. It helped me through a troubled time. I will be forever grateful to the friend who recommended that book to me. Best of luck with everything. You are so brave and strong to share your story.

  7. Thank you for sharing this, Linzy. We, like Beth above, have struggling now with having a 3rd child and just turning mid-thirties this Spring. People tell me “you have a boy and a girl. one of each! how perfect!” and they are perfect, beautiful children, that we got pregnant on the first time with, so now after having a miscarriage and no luck getting pregnant since, I am just at a loss. They are “plenty” but we always wanted a bigger family so as you said that picture of what we had in our heads is maybe not what we will have. we have started to discuss what the future might hold….adoption? just having 2? I think the “not knowing” is the hardest part. Maybe if I was just told “nope, not going to happen” I could then come to terms with it and move forward. I also love that you talked about worrying about becoming pregnant. Ignorance was bliss with my first two – now I know I will be a nervous wreck should we get pregnant. Thanks for sharing your story. You are not alone in your struggle.

  8. Outstanding article!!! Your husband is amazing for encouraging you to write this for therapy. I admire you both for your courage. I knew without a doubt that you would have many people respond. Very few people (including doctors) understand the sense of loss one suffering with infertility feels month after month, year after year when you discover once again you are again not pregnant.

    You have now created a wonderful circle of support not matter the road you decide to take.

    The comment I hate most……Yall are such good parents, it’s a shame you decided not to have more children! Seriously people, THINK before you speak. Although, I know your words were meant as compliment they CUT like a knife.

  9. I write for the Knoxville Mom’s Blog and my post on Monday details my struggles with secondary infertility. We did the treatments and ended up with precious twins. I kept my struggle secret from all but my closest IRL friends & my support on Twitter. My family still doesn’t know.
    I’ll be thinking about you as you make your decision.

  10. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for the comments and well wishes. I was really nervous for this post to go live but your feedback and support made it all OK. It is encouraging to know that I am not alone in this. I wish the best for all of you on this same journey. I hope that we all find peace and understanding on what the plan for our families is to be. Thank you for commenting. I really do appreciate it.


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