The Worst Part of Unexplained Secondary Infertility

The Worst Part of Unexplained Secondary Infertility

Want to know the worst part about unexplained secondary infertility? For me, anyway? It’s all of it.

It’s the realization that the age gap I’d always envisioned between my first and a potential second has gone by. It’s constantly doing math in my head thinking, If we get pregnant this month, the baby would be born in _______, and that would make them _____ years apart.” It’s watching my firstborn grow older and older without a sibling to play with, to teach, to lean on.

It’s the irrational anger at the baby section in Target. The knowledge that I can’t walk too close to the newborn clothes without wanting to tear them all off the racks. It’s the drop in my stomach when I see a tiny onesie not much bigger than the size of my hand—the uncertainty if I’ll ever have a baby small enough to wear one that size again. Similarly, it’s the resentment I feel towards women who are expecting or have a baby on their hip. They didn’t do this to me. Why do I feel such annoyance at their mere existence? 

It’s the hundreds of times each day I wonder what it is that’s keeping me from getting pregnant. Why was it so easy the first time and now it’s all but impossible—or maybe actually impossible? It’s the feeling that if I just knew the reason I was having so much trouble, maybe I’d rest a little easier. It’s the frustration at my body for not doing what it is supposed to do—what it’s already done once before and gave me no indication that it may not be able to do again.

It’s the people asking, “So are you going to have another one?” It’s the internal battle of whether I should say something benign like, “We’re thinking about it,” or if I should let loose with a “We’ve been trying for two years and have had our hearts broken 24 months in a row.” Do I put their comfort and ease ahead of my own?

Related: How to reduce stress while trying to conceive

It’s feeling like I need to have at least one cocktail when we’re out with friends and family so they don’t jump to the conclusion that I’m pregnant if I’m just drinking water.

It’s the two excruciating weeks between ovulation and when my period is due.

Every instance of heartburn, every random yawn, every hint of possible nausea is a cruel head game. It’s the way I hold my breath every time I use the bathroom, internally praying (or maybe even praying out loud) for no blood. It’s the tears that force their way out when I see the blood has come anyway.

Related: What to do during the two-week wait

It’s the doctor appointments that don’t tell me anything. It’s the diagnostic tests that are invasive, uncomfortable (and not covered by my insurance) that also don’t tell me anything. It’s the fertility drugs that were supposed to work like magic, but only lead to more disappointment (and an unwelcome additional 10 pounds). It’s the “What do we do now?” question that nobody seems to be able to answer.

It’s the fear that even if I do get pregnant, those next 40 weeks would hold so much uncertainty and anxiety. So much worry and so much caution. 

It’s all of it.

It’s the hope (exhausting, though it may be) that I feel at the beginning of ovulation each month.

But there are bright spots in there, as well. Bright bits that flood the darkness of unexplained secondary infertility in light.

Related: To my friends going through IVF, I am sorry I didn’t understand

It’s the baby smiling at me in line at the grocery store that makes me grin despite myself. It’s the hug my husband envelops me in when I walk out of the bathroom shaking my head, and the knowledge that he’s in this right there with me. It’s the solidarity with the millions of other women and men out there who are fighting for the same thing I am/we are. It’s the hope (exhausting, though it may be) that I feel at the beginning of ovulation each month.

And it’s the knowledge that if (maybe even when) I do finally lay my eyes on that beautiful baby in the delivery room, all of this “all of it” will have been worth it. Every last bit of it.

A version of this story was originally published on June 1, 2022. It has been updated.

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