Are there differences in primary and secondary infertility? Having experienced both, I would say that there are.
So, what are those difference? I am speaking here from my own experience. Of course, everyone’s journey and experience of that journey will be different. Even if they look similar from the outside, the way people feel about it can be very different.
I felt a different kind of pressure the second time around. Not only were we waiting for a baby for ourselves, we were also trying for a sibling for our son. With this came even more guilt because I thought a sibling would be good for him and that he would love to be a big brother. Then there are the unhelpful comments “when are you going to give your son a brother or sister, he would really love one”. People seem to think it’s ok to ask about your plans for children as soon as you’ve had one as much as they do the minute after you get married. It’s a really hard thing to deal with at either point.
Impossible to Avoid
When you have a baby/toddler/child there is no avoiding the main triggers which provoke difficult emotional reactions. When you go to the park there will be families with two or more children. When you go to playgroups there are pregnant women. Wherever you take your child this is where other children and families hang out. Avoidance is impossible. So, you go to these places and pretend everything is fine when really your heart is breaking.
I became OBSESSED with age gaps! Walking around the shops and seeing a mum with two children I’d try to work out what the age difference was between them. Each month I’d recalculate what the age gap would be if I were pregnant that month. This added more stress and even more pressure that I was putting on myself.
There seemed to be an ever-increasing number of pregnancy announcements from mum friends having their second babies. As friends announced their pregnancies this again felt like I needed to be in a hurry to catch up, not to feel left behind so we could be on maternity leave at the same time again. Of course, in some ways this feels really silly and unimportant in the grander scheme of things. But friendships and avoiding isolation is so important for us as social beings and particularly so during motherhood which can be a very lonely time.
Two is so much harder than one
It’s hard to hear others complain about what you long for most. But so many people were telling me how hard it was having two children. Lack of sleep, breastfeeding issues, this was not what I wanted to hear. This also brought with it feelings of guilt that I wasn’t being an understanding friend. They were having a hard time but I really didn’t want them to talk to me about it.
Having space in your heart for a child that isn’t there at any stage is a horrible and painful thing.
Perhaps my feelings were the same the first time around but that’s further away so I can’t remember it as clearly. The pain of not being a mum was horrendous and very nearly broke me so many times. When I think back to that time, I honestly don’t think I could have gone on another month. But secondary infertility wasn’t easy either. Having space in your heart for a child that isn’t there at any stage is a horrible and painful thing.
I’d love to know if you can relate to my experience of secondary infertility, feel free to comment below or get in touch.