When an opening came up for the topic of secondary infertility in this series, Krystle connected right away and offered to help, and goodness, I am so glad she did because this piece had me in tears!
For those who haven’t heard of secondary infertility before, it’s the inability to become pregnant or to carry a baby to term after previously giving birth to a baby. Secondary infertility could be difficulty conceiving your second child or your fifth.
Her story exudes the pain and confusion that secondary infertility causes and yet the hope and faithfulness of Jesus who writes our stories better than we could have planned. Krystle, I am SO thankful we connected for this and you are able to share your story of What It’s Like.
Our story with secondary infertility includes some of the darkest days of my life. Many days I wondered when the sun would shine in my heart again, but what I’m hoping to highlight by sharing our story, is that while it was overwhelmingly difficult, and the weeping felt like it lasted for endless evenings – the hope and promise of “joy in the morning” we find in scripture is true.
So what’s it like experiencing secondary infertility? Whew, the question alone feels heavy. Here’s just a small highlight roll of some of the struggles we experienced from a practical perspective.
- Frequently hearing, “Why don’t you just adopt? I know so and so who started the adoption process and then got pregnant right away!” Important side note: Adoption is not a solution for infertility’s wounds. It’s a wonderful way God uses brokenness to put together families, but it’s not for everyone.
- Fielding questions from strangers like, “When are you going to give her (our daughter) a sibling?” Or after repeated miscarriages, patiently smiling through (well-meaning) platitudes of “It just wasn’t meant to be” or “It’ll happen when you least expect it”.
- Waking your toddler up at 6am to tag along for early am, 50 mile-round trips multiple times a week to fertility appointments (it’s not always easy to ask for childcare help that early in the morning and that frequently and often with just hours’ notice).
- Feeling guilty that you should “just be enjoying the blessing of the child you have”, all while trying to hide the tears when that same child cries at night for a sibling.
- Struggling with wanting to isolate yourself from others because you’re just flat out weary of answering the “How’s the fertility stuff going?” question with the same “Not yet” response each month.
My husband and I talked early and often about starting our family. Because of a family history and inconsistent cycles, I figured we might have a harder time conceiving. So, we decided together to start “trying” for a family about 2 years into marriage. After months turned into over a year, we were recommended to see a Reproductive Endocrinologist (fertility doc). Once we got up the courage, our Dr. was able to assess things and get us on track to conceive only 3 months after meeting him. Fast forward to today, and we have a precious 4.5 year old (‘cause the half is important, ya know!) daughter. She is our delight and joy. Now, after all the early days of sleeplessness and sheer exhaustion began to wane, we started talking about continuing to grow our family.
While the months of “trying” stretched on for us, we figured we just needed a little extra help again. Back we went to our doctor, who recommended a procedure that we had gone through before conceiving our daughter. Now just a couple months back into the game, I went through the procedure, and that following month I conceived. We were shocked and thrilled! But that thrill was short-lived after some testing revealed I was expected to miscarry. At that time, I had heard the statistic that 1 in 4 women will miscarry; I had read the countless stories of tear-filled mommas who had gripped their bellies with the hope of life only to see it fade away from reality. I knew that thought is never far from a new momma’s mind, still, we clung to the promises and sought to hold that little life with open hands. And while I tried to prepare my heart for the worst, once the little life inside me slipped away I realized one can never fully prepare for the emotions that come.
After giving my body a little time to heal, we jumped back in with a new plan and renewed hope (if you’ve walked through infertility you know that cycle of excited hope, anticipation during the two-week wait, and disappoint when it doesn’t happen – all too well). Well, four months later we were pregnant again! Then just a few weeks later, on the eve of our 6th wedding anniversary we found ourselves grieving over another child we didn’t get to meet. We hugged our JG a little closer and pressed on, weary but still very hopeful.
Fast forward to the nearly 3-year mark of praying, hoping and waiting, we had completed our 14th (yes, 14!) and final IUI. I know this gives some people early in their wait heart palpitations! BUT before you go and allow your heart to fear, please keep in mind the reason we did so many, is simply because every genetic test, procedure, ultrasound, and (many!) blood tests had come back completely normal. Our doctor always expressed that he believed it would happen again for us, and my husband’s insurance was very comprehensive. Additionally, each cycle was “perfect” medically speaking.
Throughout these exhausting months, and multiple miscarriages we always sought to press on in trusting the Lord’s timing and the wisdom He gave to our doctor. But then came the point, where it was clear my body couldn’t keep up with the physically and emotionally exhaustive treatments. It was our personal decision to not move forward with IVF, and so we made the difficult, but confident decision to stop everything.
It took approximately 1,095 days, achieving pin cushion status, countless negative tests, the mourning of precious lives lost in between, every bit of the Holy Spirit’s help and a whole village of people praying for us, but we finally arrived at a place of peace and acceptance. It was a long season of wrestling, waiting, listening, hoping, and ultimately surrendering. Good, but hard soul-work that has yielded an intimacy with Christ that we wouldn’t trade for the world.
But our story doesn’t end there. When I pause and reflect on where secondary-infertility has brought us today. There’s no denying that the providence of my unfulfilled desire to carry another child has brought us to hearts pregnant with the hope of another child who will not share our DNA; yet, was always meant for us and us for him, from the beginning of time. We are just months away from traveling to meet our son in China. That’s right! All the years of heartache weren’t without purpose, they led us straight to our son.
Unexplained infertility would have never been our plan to bring us to our son (and it’s not always the answer for everyone walking the same road), but here we are, and I find myself unable to thank God enough for His infinite wisdom and for allowing us this front-row seat to watch Him work in details big and small.
Now, for those still in the wait, still longing with the worst anticipation to see their wombs and arms filled with life, I only have so many words I can share here, but in case you’re grasping for some hope right now, I wrote a post here to encourage others. If you feel so led, please take a moment to read. You are beautiful sister, and your identity is not wrapped up in being a mother – or not. God is faithful to help you bloom where you are planted right now. Keep pressing on and fighting the fight of faith!
Hello new friends, I’m Krystle from the Great Lake State of Michigan! I’m the devoted and thankful wife to JB, momma to one precious 4 year old little girl and a son on the way via adoption from China. The hubs and I live an ordinary life, “content to fill a little space if thou be glorified”. We look forward to seeing what story God writes as we live out a life of obedience and surrendering of our best laid plans to “Nevertheless” not our will, but His be done. I started chronicling our journey and what God is doing in her hearts along the way here. Come on over, we’d love to meet you!
PPS – If you’re ever looking for a devotional on living life while in a waiting season, check out the devotional I co-authored called ‘In the Wait’!
PPPS – Check out the other contributions from this series, including What It’s Like: to experience multiple IVF cycles, raise a child with special needs, use an egg donor, be a DIY-er and home style blogger , be a NICU nurse, Live fully in singleness while still hoping for marriage, suffer with endometriosis. experience depression, start a company, have a micro preemie, lose a parent, be childless not by choice, have a spouse with a chronic illness, fund raise for fertility treatments, have a traumatic birthing experience, take a natural route with infertility, be on a reality show, go through the adoption process, have male factor infertility,be a stay at home mom, be an entertainer, be given a Down syndrome diagnosis for your child , experience multiple miscarriages, have a surrogate, experience a late pregnancy stillbirth, be a police officers wife, be a working mom , be a breastfeeding mother, have weight loss surgery, donate and adopt an embryo, be on a reality show, go through the fostering process, throw a themed dinner party , have PCOS, have had a cancer diagnosis, be a high school teacher,love someone who’s experiencing infertility be a step-parent and be the husband in a couple experiencing infertility. Stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!