Secondary Infertility: The inability to become pregnant or to carry a baby to term after previously giving birth to a baby. There are many causes, which can be diagnosed and discussed with your care provider. I would like to take a few moments to talk about the emotional and physical toll secondary infertility can take.
It is very easy for people (who I am sure have good intentions) to say, “At least you have your first child… what a blessing!” Yes, my son is a blessing but the bottom line is that my family is not complete yet.
The stress is unbelievable. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be undergoing hormone treatments and egg retrievals. Our son was conceived on the second round of Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). This time around we found ourselves in the midst of egg retrievals and embryo transfers after unsuccessful IUI’s. My body felt depleted and we were emotionally spent. I was going to the doctor at 5 a.m. multiple times a week on and off for about a year. My son would kiss my “booboos” from my injections and it felt like we just keep waiting in anticipation. I started to have heart palpitations when I would see my nurse calling with updates.
In an earlier post I wrote about my experience trying to conceive my son and how I learned way more about my fertility than I ever wanted to know. I felt defective. But that’s nothing compared to now.
The good news is that for us all the hard work and stress paid off because we are pregnant again! I must add, though, that it’s not all amazing and blissful. My anxiety has continued into pregnancy as I sort of “wait for the ball to drop.” I am so incredibly happy to be pregnant again but I don’t think I will really feel at ease until our baby is safely in our arms.
I feel that I have gained another level of sensitivity through this experience. I don’t ask families anymore if they “want more children,” which I frequently did before. I can also personally relate to expecting parents who are nervous throughout pregnancy that something may go wrong.
Life is so fragile and bringing a life into this world is an amazing feat. My heart goes out to those of you that are struggling with fertility and my ears are open to hear your story.
When I was a teenager “Pride Month” was a time for me to wear rainbows, kiss my girlfriend in public and march in the NYC parade. I was president of my high school gay/straight alliance and of Rutgers University’s BiGLARU so each June was filled with activities that made me feel important and included.
Pride month is going to be a little quieter this year… our son, Finn, is on a stringent nap schedule so there will be no marching in parades… and we were going to go to Pride in Asbury Park but we actually got my sister to babysit for the day and we decided we would much rather go to a spa!
So what is Pride Month to me now? It’s a time for me to reflect on the amazing family I have but also a time to remember the struggles we face. I could go on and on but I’m just going to focus on one aspect of our lives because I believe it may resonate with some of you out there: Babies, Fertility and Adoption.
Finn is now 20 months old. I literally knew since I was five years old that I wanted kids. I wanted to start young (first kid by 25). That’s not what happened because a lesbian couple having a child takes some doing and costs a lot of money! We went to a fertility specialist shortly after my mother passed away, when I realized that life is too short to wait for the perfect moment to do something big. We walked out of the office completely overwhelmed and I remember thinking “If we were straight, we would just have sex and make a baby.” Of course there are many families (of any orientation) who this is not true for; but for me, I didn’t have any preconceived fertility issues, I just didn’t have sperm. So for those of you who haven’t gone through this process, the following were some requirements: track my ovulation and go for bloodwork and ultrasounds on various days to get a “baseline,” pick a sperm donor, read through all of the donors issues to make sure he would be a good fit genetically, seek genetic counseling, get clearance from a therapist (yes you read that right), get a hysterosalpingogram (HSG), get a saline sonogram, medications, shots… I think I got it all. At the end of it all, I felt defective and like I knew way more about my uterus than I ever wanted to know. But, I was cleared to move forward so I did a cycle of intrauterine insemination (IUI). I was sure I was pregnant because not getting pregnant never even crossed my mind. I didn’t get pregnant during the first round and I was completely crushed. I always assumed it would just work and when it didn’t, the fears started to creep in. Luckily for me I did get pregnant during my second round of IUI. We had a perfect baby boy (Finn) and launched into parenthood.
My issue with all of this is that it was such a process and it was very expensive. New Jersey does not cover IUI treatments for lesbian couples because there is no perceived fertility issue. I will never forget the conversation Molly (my wife) had with the health insurance rep, she said, “Well I keep trying to get her pregnant but it just isn’t working.” The rep laughed and apologized for the lack of support on the side of insurance companies but there was nothing else she could do.
I have a number of very dear friends (heterosexual) who do in fact have fertility complications and some have had to spend quite a lot of money so I know this is not all unique to Molly and I. My issue is that we are thrown into this process and financial hardship because we want children and we are a lesbian couple, there is no other reason.
Where does adoption come into play? Well believe it or not, Molly has to adopt our son. We need a lawyer (actually found a great one), background checks, home check, court date, and more money. Molly’s name is on his birth certificate and we are legally married but those documents aren’t enough. I was completely blown away and am sad to say that for various reasons, we have not yet completed the adoption process.
New Jersey, the United States, much of the world: there is more to do, I hope those teenagers keep marching and I will join them again in a few years.
So tell me about your pride month, or fertility and baby-making journey. And to end on a happy note, here’s a picture of our beautiful family. One of our dogs even managed to do a photo bomb and smile :)