Today marks the start of the first National Infertility Awareness Week, launched by Infertility Network UK in conjunction with their Talking About Trying campaign. It’s a week long campaign (28th November – 3rd November 2013) to raise awareness of infertility.
Having several friends who have suffered with infertility I wanted to help spread the word about this campaign to help other people going through it and let them know that they’re not alone. In particular, secondary infertility.
It’s something you don’t really think about. Or I hadn’t anyway. You have one child, or even two, therefore you automatically think it’s going to be plain sailing with the next. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. I asked my good friend Karen, from ‘365 Pearls of Wisdom‘, to share her experience with you.
Both Karen and I hope that it helps others experiencing the same things as Karen and also people that know someone experiencing infertility. Sometimes it can be hard to know what to say. Sometimes, it’s best not to say anything at all. Over to you Karen…
In September of 2010 I had my first baby, it took us 4 months to get pregnant. At the time I thought how lucky we were to fall so quickly, I figured it would have been even quicker if I hadn’t waited so long to come off contraception. In hindsight I look back now and realise it really was pure luck, in fact it now seems like a miracle.
I remember whilst I was pregnant my husband suggesting we try right away for another, get the whole new baby, nappies feeding and sleepless nights over and done with. My reaction to this was “No way!” I wanted my body back for a while and to just enjoy this baby we already had coming. But, shortly after she was born I was actually ready to start again, I loved our family and wanted a sibling for her sooner than I thought I would. So when she was 6 months old we started trying, with much excitement and anticipation, fantasising about being a family of four.
Two months ago my daughter turned 3, almost three years after we started trying we are still a family of 3 and I haven’t fallen pregnant with my second child. Well, actually I did fall pregnant last Christmas but the pregnancy didn’t develop properly and was eventually treated as a missed miscarriage at 11 weeks.
I am actually living with a diagnosis of secondary infertility, something most people I know don’t even know exists. Last year I had some fertility tests done, my daughter was born by emergency C-section and so the fertility specialist agreed to do a laparoscopy and dye procedure on me. This meant going in through my belly button and existing C-section scar and injecting dye into my ovaries and checking to make sure nothing had been stuck together or effected by scarring. The procedure showed that the dye only went through my left tube and not my right, so we know now that the right side doesn’t work properly, halving my chances of falling pregnant. A later laparoscopy by a different doctor, earlier this year when investigating problems with my pregnancy, showed this is because of scar tissue built up around the right tube, no one knows why it’s there or how long it has been there, possibly a complication from the C-section.
At this point you may be wondering what support and treatment I’m getting from the fertility specialist at my local hospital, well the answer is nothing… When I visited for my follow up appointment last year after my initial laparoscopy she told me what was wrong and then very flippantly said “Oh you’ll get pregnant, eventually..” And that was that, I was waved off out of the clinic. That was very distressing for me, I knew why I wasn’t getting any more help or support. Because I have secondary infertility and our local PCT will only spend their budgets on couples with primary infertility. Plus we don’t have ANY infertility support or counselling in our area for ANYONE suffering with infertility problems.
So here I am, lost, isolated and feeling very alone in my journey. Of course I get a lot of well meaning people imparting their wisdom and advice on to me, I regularly get…
“Oh you’ll get pregnant again!”
“If you just stop trying it will happen!”
“You’re too stressed out about it, you need to relax!”
“Why don’t you just dress up in sexy underwear, get drunk and just enjoy it!”
“You should try going on holiday, you’ll fall pregnant then!”
“Why don’t you just enjoy the child you already have?!”
Seriously, if I had a pound for every time someone said this to me I’d be well on my way to affording a round of IVF! I know people mean well, I know that people don’t really understand what we are going through and I know people are trying to “help” but believe me and others who suffer too will tell you how unhelpful this is!
I have tried EVERYTHING I possibly can, that I can actually do myself, we don’t actually have any money to pay for any private fertility that is medical based so unless we win the lottery that is not an option for us. I wish it was as simple as all these people make out for it to be but infertility is complex, physically, emotionally and mentally and it’s a completely different experience for everyone who has the displeasure of experiencing it, on how they feel and what works for them.
So if I can leave you with a few things at the end of my story it is this, if you know someone who has infertility issues, try not to give them advice, wisdom or guidance, instead try asking them how they are doing or how they are feeling, try listening to their story instead of trying to tell them what they should be doing instead remember; although they may not show it other people’s pregnancies and babies can be difficult for them, you don’t always have to come up with the right thing to say, just a little acknowledgement helps, even if it’s just a hug, hugs are great, I wished more people hugged me instead of dismissing my worries and anxieties about falling pregnant again. Most of all don’t take theirs, yours or anyone else’s fertility for granted because none of us know how it really is until we are actually living it.
For me the future is unclear, although we hope and dream of another baby, there is no guarantee one will come along and this can be a difficult fact to face. In the summer it seemed like everyone we knew was announcing pregnancies around us. In fact, I have watched many people I know who have had their first babies after my first, go on to have second and thirds since and I was feeling a lot of disappear and abandonment. This is when I decided to take some action, try something I hadn’t before.
I knew of a holistic fertility specialist who had done hypnobirthing with me when I was pregnant with my daughter and she ran her own clinic in another town about an hour down the road. I have now been having treatment with her for the last three months and I am feeling more hopeful now that my baby may come along soon and now my quest is to try to live life as a survivor of infertility, not a victim. Some days it’s hard, some days it’s painful and I feel like a total failure but I push on, dreaming of my baby, willing it in to my arms and in to my family.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Karen. I’m so looking forward to reading the second part and to find out what steps you’ve been taking to help realise your dream of a second child. My heart goes out to you.
Later in the week we will also hear from Lucy, Karen’s holistic fertility specialist. I am so excited to share her post with you.
If you are experiencing secondary infertility, please feel free to comment below or email me and I’ll pass any messages on to Karen. Likewise, you can speak directly to Karen on Twitter @KarenCsWorld