Secondary Infertility – A Therapist’s View Point

Secondary infertility from a therapist’s viewpoint, this marriage and family therapist, is that it is a silent and traumatic pain. When it comes to primary or secondary infertility, women and men that are struggling with conceiving a child often remain in a silent pain. Sometimes women will disclose to a close family member or a friend. Men often remain in silence feeling there is no one they feel they can share this struggle, and on occasion they have a friend they feel they can share this with. Often men report the struggle is not just with the pain of not conceiving, it is also the pain of a strained relationship with their wife stemming from infertility. Men often report they feel their wife is angry at them and distant that their wife’s attention on the marital relationship is no longer and rather all of her energy is focused on conceiving. Women too report marital disharmony explaining their frustration with the infertility journey and sometimes feeling unsupported emotionally the way in which they feel they want their husband to be. No one person man or woman deals with primary or secondary infertility the same way.

When it comes to secondary infertility, this is when a man and a woman already have conceived one child, but are struggling to conceive a second child, this is an often silent pain that there seems to be no one to share this struggle. If there is a friend or a family member often both men and women report that they must deal with it on their own as they have burdened their family or friend enough. Specifically the reports are often that they feel like no one will understand their pain, since they already have a child they “should” feel blessed and satisfied and fulfilled that one child is “enough”.

Today’s blog is from this mental health expert to you, to remind those women and men who are struggling with the guilty feeling they often report that they “should” feel one child is enough, that it is not that you are not appreciating the child you have because you would like more. On the contrary, couples typically feel quite blessed and love their one and only child very deeply. Rather, it is just simply, yes, simply, that their expectations and hopes were that they could give their love to more than one and that their child would have a sibling to go through their life journey with. Most men and women even before marriage, many even as young as when they were children themselves assumed that it is their right to be able to have as many children as they desire, or “at least two”. Most people believe having children is an entitlement, that we are entitled to have children if we want one, two, three, four, or five. Yet, there are many who struggle to conceive while others appear to get pregnant at the snap of a finger.

This blog article today is intended to remind those struggling with secondary infertility that you are not alone. The current statistics collected by the Center for Disease Control is as follows: 11% of couples who already have a child experience secondary infertility. That is about half of all infertility cases, that is approximately 4 million families. Knowing these statistics certainly does not make you feel better. In fact, not being able to conceive the second child you so much wanted to have is a trauma, a painful loss.

Acceptance of what cannot be is a life journey, if it should so turn out that it is determined that you cannot conceive another child. This fact that one must face is traumatic and hard to adjust to and cope with. Although you will never forget what you wanted, what you thought would be that never can be, what you will be able to do, and must do, is journey onward. Yes, you will hurt, that I can assure you. You know what else you can do? The answer is: value, love, nurture, and cherish the life that you have, the child that you have, and the spouse that you have. Recognize the positives in your life, recognize that your life would be different and your child would be different if you had more than one. Specifically, remind yourself the life you have is beautiful with the one and only precious child you have been blessed with. This child will receive and benefit from all that you can provide as the one. This child shall receive your attention, affection, time, energy, and financial support you have to give. This child has a voice in the family as a dynamic of three that is unlike any other dynamic that could never be if there was four or five. There is beauty in being the one and only. This child is special, a gift and will always be special.

Parents of one child who are on the journey of accepting what is out of their control often report that researching all of the wonderful character traits and benefits of being a one and only child is a helpful method to help them to cope with, adjust to, and accept. Researching typically on-line as it has much information, or in the bookstore, which has some books, but of course less resources than what the on-line material has to offer, helps parents to be mindful of the beauty and joy and positives that being a one and only is in and of itself. There are many misconceptions and myths associated with children that grow up in a household as one. There are so many websites, magazines, and books that discuss the positives of the one. Check it out!

The journey of doing the research is different then just seeing a book, or a magazine listed on this blog. The journey of seeing that there is so much written from a positive perspective in and of itself will be reassuring and helpful on your journey, and a journey it is. Therefore, I offer this assignment of research to you if you are struggling with the acceptance of secondary infertility and have been confronted with the fact that you will never be a parent of more than one child. If you are in the life stage of knowing you have one child to love and cherish, be patient with yourself and kind to yourself and your spouse on your journey. Not a one among us is not – not faced with a challenge if not many challenges through one’s life. If this is your challenge, be mindful of how it affects you and those you love. Google the term: “Only Child”, see what you find, you will find much helpful information the Internet is flooded with wonderful literature.

If you find you are unable to relish in your life and function as an individual in a healthy and productive way, if you feel your loss and grieving process is negatively affecting your child, your relationship with your child and/or your spouse, do not feel ashamed to go for counseling. You owe it to yourself and your family to get the help you need. You can share your pain and your grief as there are kind and skilled therapists available to help you to help yourself cope with and adjust. Therapists not only are a listening ear where you can feel your voice is heard instead of suffering in silence, which in and of itself is helpful, therapists also can provide you with strategies in addition to those mentioned in this blog today. You are welcome to contact me directly so I may refer you to a therapist to fit your needs, contact your primary care physician for a recommendation, or call your insurance for a referral to a therapist near you.

 

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3 thoughts on “Secondary Infertility – A Therapist’s View Point”

  1. Secondary infertility is not always with not having a second child. It can also be with a third, fourth, or fifth. Its about not being able to have what you want, or always feeling like something is wrong with you. Its about seeing a newborn and just feeling that feeling of WANTING a baby so badly. Personally, I never feel like its a hidden pain. I tell people who ask.

    1. Thank you for sharing, I am sure there are readers who will identify with what you said. Yes indeed, although the article appeared to take a focus on having a second child, if we are getting into the specifics, secondary infertility is defined, more specifically as the inability to become pregnant or to carry a pregnancy to term following the birth of one or more biological children. For most couples who experience this it is a trauma and despite the fact that a couple already has a child (or more than one child) secondary infertility impacts them as the loss of a child. Excellent that you share your pain and do not feel it is hidden, there are many people who do not share whether asked or not asked. Secondary infertility is a silent pain for far too many. Couples often report when they do share their pain the common reaction is that they should be thankful for the child they have, which leaves them feeling uncomfortable sharing further as they feel unheard. Typically couples are quite thankful for the child they have and still do want more. Sharing one’s emotional pain with one’s support network can play a role in the healing process.

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