Secondary Infertility: A Different Kind of Struggle


Lullaby WishesBurlingtonVT Moms Blog is partnering with Northeastern Reproductive Medicine to bring you our latest series titled “Lullaby Wishes: raising infertility awareness.” 1 in 8 couples suffer from infertility and yet the subject is often not openly discussed and seems to carry a stigma. Through this series we hope to open the dialogue and help women battling through infertility know that they are not alone. Thank you to the courageous women who have chosen to share their stories as part of this series, as we know that this topic is often deeply personal and difficult to discuss. Our desire is that those reading this series will find encouragement in the hope and beauty that is weaved into these stories of heartache, loss and love.

Secondary Infertility: A Different Kind of Struggle

In writing this article I wanted to make sure to choose my words carefully in order to not hurt anyone who is in the midst of struggling with primary infertility. I recognize it can be difficult to read about someone wanting more children when they were lucky enough to be able to conceive a first. defines secondary infertility as “the inability to become pregnant, or to carry a pregnancy to term, following the birth of one or more biological children. The birth of the first child does not involve any assisted reproductive technologies or fertility medications”.

I got pregnant with my first child within three months of making the decision to try. At the time, I did not recognize how incredibly lucky we were to be able to conceive so easily. I had an uneventful pregnancy and was thrilled to give birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy. We started thinking about adding to our family when our first turned 1 ½. I was 35 years old and although I was aware that fertility can begin to decline in the mid- to late thirties, I did not think it would happen to me. After all, I exercised, ate well, didn’t smoke, hardly drank alcohol and didn’t have any chronic illnesses. And we conceived so easily the first time around! All of that should have been in my favor, right?

pregnancy test, positive pregnancy test

Unfortunately, infertility doesn’t discriminate…it turns out that you can do everything right and still find yourself in the midst of it.

The next 2 ½ years were filled with ovulation predictor kits, temperature charting, acupuncture, dietary changes, terrible emotional side effects from medications (Clomid I’m looking at you…), an allergic reaction to letrozole which resulted in head to toe hives and therefore two weeks of steroids, multiple failed IUIs and an unsuccessful IVF.


The emotions I experienced during my struggle with secondary infertility were all over the place. There were times that I did not like who I was becoming. I was angry – angry that my body was failing me. I had done this before; I should be able to do it again. Angry that we waited until our mid-thirties to have children.

I felt guilty.

Having already had a child, I felt I wasn’t “infertile enough” to consider infertility treatments. I felt that because there were so many couples struggling to have a first, I had no right to be sad about not having another. At the same time, it was so hurtful when people would say to me “just be thankful for what you have”. Believe me, going through secondary infertility made me extraordinarily thankful for my son and the miracle of being able to have a child.

I felt sad and jealous.

Sadness that my son would most likely not get to experience a sibling relationship. It seemed that everywhere I looked there were families of 4 and 5. I started to get offended by silly things like “family of four discounts”. What about families of 3? Did we not count? Silly, I know. Of course my family counted, but it was difficult at times to stay rational. I had to learn that it was ok to be happy for others and sad for myself.

I felt lonely.

I started to isolate myself. I felt sad so often that I felt that I wasn’t good company. I didn’t want to open up to people for fear of being judged and deemed selfish. There are support groups for primary infertility, but very few resources for secondary infertility. I couldn’t believe how fast infertility was taking over my life. I ended up working with a wonderful therapist who helped me sort through these feelings and learn to own and accept them. It was ok to be angry and sad yet still be thankful for the family I did have.

After our first IVF failed we were given a 2% chance of a successful pregnancy.

We took a couple of months to regroup and opted to do one more final IVF. We had accepted the fact that it most likely wouldn’t be successful and you know what? We were okay with that. We were going to be happy and satisfied as a family of 3.

A couple of weeks before the second IVF cycle was to start I made a list of every negative feeling and thought that I wanted to “let go” of. I threw that list in our wood burning stove and felt a huge weight lift off of my shoulders. Ten days later we got the shock of our lives when I got a positive pregnancy test.

We never needed that second IVF.

Our son was born this past September almost two weeks after his due date. Our little guy definitely took his time in joining us and he has been well worth the wait.

secondary infertility 2

Although my story has a happy ending, it is not lost on me how incredibly lucky we are.

After 2 ½ years I ended up on the other side of secondary infertility, yet I will never forget how difficult it was to be in the midst of it. I sincerely hope that my story can bring comfort to at least one person who might be in a similar place to where I was three years ago.

Northeastern Reproductive Medicine is graciously sponsoring our ‘’Lullaby Wishes: Raising Infertility Awareness” series…and we would not have it any other way!  We are passionate about all that they are doing for women and couples in our community, and we encourage you to contact them to help in your journey to becoming a mother too.

To learn more about Northeastern Reproductive Medicine or schedule an appointment, please contact ::

1 (802) 655-8888


info {at} nrmvt {dot} com

Written by Martha

Martha bio picMartha lives in Burlington with her wonderful husband, her two happy sons and one grumpy old cat . She works full-time as a nurse, enjoys running and is looking forward to another beautiful Vermont summer!


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