Trying for Number 2?
When things don’t go according to plan…………….
A few months ago I met Julie and Simon. They are the proud parents of Joseph who is a cheeky, noisy and very cute 3 year old. Last year Julie and Simon decided that they would love nothing more than trying for another baby to complete their family and to give Joseph a little brother or sister (well, brother actually, if Joseph got his way!). After about 6 months of trying, Julie and Simon’s excitement at trying for another baby started to turn into despair. Nothing was happening but how could this be? They had no problem in conceiving Joseph, in fact it all happened rather quickly as they fell pregnant 2 months after Julie stopped the pill……..
Unfortunately Julie and Simon’s story is an all too common occurrence. Many couples find it difficult to conceive the second time around and find it difficult to understand why. The inability to conceive after having naturally conceived children before is termed Secondary Infertility. According to RESOLVE approximately 30% of all infertility is secondary infertility.
There are many reasons why a couple may be facing secondary infertility, and in many ways these are the most frustrating. Possibly the most major factor is – age. Women are born with all the eggs they have for their reproductive life and as the woman ages, so do the eggs. It could be that the second time around, the eggs are not as good quality as they were previously or the ovarian reserve is running low. Both scenarios are pretty devastating.
Another factor is that with the passage of time one partner may have developed a medical condition that is affecting his or her ability to conceive, such as an underactive thyroid, tubal damage due to infections or diabetes.
There may also be lifestyle factors that are having an influence on a couple’s fertility. Are there financial worries that are causing stress and tension within the relationship? Is being a working mum and juggling everything stressing you out? Or simply is an active toddler making it tricky for the couple to find time to be intimate or indeed to have the energy!
Other lifestyle factors might be playing a part too. Has one partner started smoking when previously they didn’t? Does a stressful job mean that you come home from work and share a bottle of wine every evening? As a busy mum do you get the chance to eat a good diet or get the chance for that valuable ‘me time’, I suspect probably not!
One aspect that I observe in all the women I see who are suffering from secondary infertility is that they just can’t get away from it. Where previously they got so much support from toddler groups, hanging out in soft play areas while the kids play or going along to music groups; suddenly these places cause unbearable pain. Everywhere you look you see yet another pregnant woman expecting her second or third baby, your friends are full of chatter about their imminent arrival and how their toddler will take to there being a baby in the family. One of the toughest challenges these women face is the inability to insulate themselves from pregnant bumps and babies. For their toddlers benefit they need to still expose themselves to these environments.
Often, well meaning (and maybe not so well meaning) family and friends will say “when are you going to have a little brother or sister for Evie?” or “you got pregnant with Charlie, you’ll do it again”. Managing the expectations of family and friends is difficult, especially when some friends comment that you’re not a real mum until you’ve had more than one child; potty training one while being up to your eyeballs in nappies with the other – yes, I really have heard that comment!
If a couples secondary infertility leads them down the path of pursuing infertility investigations and treatments, then a high price is paid. Not just in monetary terms but in time and emotions. There are tests and treatments to be slotted in to an already busy daily schedule which takes away time you would normally spend with your toddler. This immense feeling of guilt is then compounded by further guilt at not being able to give your child a sibling.
I firmly believe that couples experiencing secondary infertility are not given the support they deserve. Somehow secondary infertility is not perceived to be as devastating as primary infertility but I can see from my patients that it absolutely is.
So, the question is what can you do about secondary infertility and how can you help yourself to optimise the chances of conceiving again? Firstly, remember time may not be on your side. Go and see your GP. Ask for you both to have a general health screen to check for any underlining conditions that might be affecting your fertility. If you have been trying for a while, you may be able to have some initial investigations carried out. At least then you are on the right track if there are any problems that need ironing out. Find yourself a Fertility Practitioner that can help you to maximise your chances of conceiving. A fertility practitioner will look at all aspects such as determining that you are ovulating and other diagnostics to advising on nutrition, the impact of stress and how to avoid toxins; to name but a few.
I guess, the end goal is to eventually make peace with whatever situation you find yourself in and ultimately have a beautiful and fulfilling life with your family……whether you can fit them all into a hatch back or a people carrier!
By Kate Davies – Fertility Practitioner www.yourfertilityjourney.com
Kate has over 20 years’ experience in fertility and women’s health. She runs her own practice in the UK and consults patients either face to face or by Skype. If this blog has made you consider your fertility potential and would like to find out more, contact Kate by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 07739329785.
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