“When are you guys thinking of having more kids?”
“She’s so cute, you need to have another one!”
“She’ll be lonely if you don’t give her a brother or sister soon!”
Ever said one of those phrases to a family with one toddler? I know I have! I thought I was just making friendly conversation about people’s families, but after going through secondary infertility I see those questions very differently. I’m sharing our story to connect with those going through something similar and share lessons I’ve learned on how to support someone experiencing infertility.
When my husband and I were a newly married couple, we envisioned ourselves with two adorable, well behaved (HA!) children that were exactly 2 years apart. In 2013, I became pregnant with our daughter on our first try. I had an excellent pregnancy and delivery when we welcomed her the following February.
“Man,” I thought. “I’m really good at having babies!”
Fast forward to June of 2015 when we decided it was time to have another child. We were so confident that we would get pregnant on the first try again that we waited an extra month so we wouldn’t have to have birthday parties at the same time.
Months and months went by and we were not able to get pregnant. All around us, people were announcing they were expecting. I became so frustrated and depressed with our situation.
Why was this happening?
What was wrong with us?
Were we ever going to be able to have another baby?
We met with an infertility specialist and she diagnosed us with Unexplained Secondary Infertility. We were glad that there were no glaring issues, but still frustrated without answers. Throughout this experience, I have learned what actions felt supportive and which felt judgmental and prying.
While everyone is different, here are some ways you can support someone going through secondary infertility:
Don’t ask prying questions.
Questions and comments about building a family are awkward most of the time, but to someone going through secondary infertility, they can be especially rough. Don’t assume that since a couple already has one child, it’s ok to ask about future children.
Not everyone is ready to jump right into IVF or adoption. Please don’t suggest these as quick and easy fixes.
Acknowledge that pregnancy announcements can be awkward.
During this experience, pregnancy announcements can be bring up a lot of different emotions. I have really appreciated those who have taken me aside privately to tell me they were going to announce they were pregnant so I wouldn’t be caught off-guard.
Most importantly, just listen!
If someone you know confides in you that they are going through infertility issues, the best thing you can do is listen. Do not offer advice like, “Have you tried this or that?” or dismiss them with comments like, “Well at least you have one child!” You could simply ask,“How is everything going?” You give them the invitation to talk about their infertility struggles as well as the choice not to share at that time. Just asking and listening to their answer shows you care.
I don’t know if we’ll ever have more children, and right now that’s ok. We will continue to be thankful for our daughter and hopefully, just maybe, someday we’ll be thankful we went through this experience with secondary infertility.
Until then, please don’t ask me when we’re having another baby.
If you or someone you know is going through infertility check out RESOLVE: The National Infertility Center for information and support.