The pain of secondary infertility is real

I woke up at dawn and sobbed the entire way there and back. I knew in my heart the transfer didn't take. A few hours after my blood was drawn, it was confirmed.

The pain of secondary infertility is real

If you have ever been in the process of trying to get pregnant, you are well familiar with the “two week wait"—the time between ovulation and peeing on a stick. The time is often filled by wondering whether you have a newly improved sense of smell, are going to the bathroom more often or have an unusual appetite.

Wanting to find out if you are pregnant is something many women—and couples—yearn for. And we all know when you are looking forward to something it seems like the clock is ticking even slower.

When that two week waiting period turns into months and years, it can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders as you drag yourself through another day of hoping and praying for a positive outcome.

For me, my test after my “two week wait" was on a Saturday morning, which meant that I had to drive 40 minutes to the closest infertility office since my usual one was closed for the weekend. They usually don't do pregnancy tests on the weekend, but given my work schedule that following Monday—and fearing the outcome—I begged to come in on Saturday. I didn't want to enter an all-day meeting with mascara running down my face after the potential of negative news.

So, I woke up at dawn and sobbed the entire way there and back. I knew in my heart the transfer didn't take. A few hours after my blood was drawn, it was confirmed.

Devastation.

I had high hopes. It took us a long time to decide to move forward with fertility treatments, but after dealing with secondary unexplained infertility—meaning nothing was medically wrong with me and I had no problem getting pregnant before—I was certain it would work.

I mean why wouldn't it? This would be the answer to our prayers to conceive after waiting roughly 20 months to get pregnant with our third child. Or so I thought.

Waiting can be emotionally draining and frustrating. Waiting can also be physically painful. If you have ever had to wait a long time for something important to you that it literally keeps you up at night, puts a pit in your stomach and pulls at your heartstrings, you know what I am talking about.

But, just like we learn from our mistakes, we also learn from waiting. If we choose, waiting gives us the opportunity to reflect on our emotions, understand why we might be experiencing them and work on how to deal with them.

We can learn to appreciate the things we do have while still hoping for things that we might not. Yet, no matter how much we teach this to our kids—and have been taught this by our elders—the process of waiting often remains an annoyance. We are human after all.

Then there is the saying that “good things come to those who wait." Just how long do you have to wait though? Days? Weeks? Months? Years? Some wait their whole lifetime for someone or something.

For parents, waiting for your kids to do things—say, get their shoes on in the morning or to be able to sleep through the night—can feel like a lifetime. That said, you know your kid will eventually sleep through the night, learn how to ride a bike or tie their own shoes. It's just a matter of time.

Others don't always have that luxury. There are some instances where you don't know how long the wait will be. Or if it will ever end. So, what do you do when you don't know if it really is just a matter of time?

What I did was focus on what I was learning while I was waiting. I focused more on my kids and showing them my love. I was able to find joy in the simplest everyday interactions with my kids. Something as simple as crossing the street holding my son's hand—I was able to think about how lucky I was to actually feel his hand in mine because someday he won't need or want to hold it.

I took time to notice how fantastic of a father my husband is. I focused on the things that I enjoyed and made me less stressed, like practicing yoga. I focused on slowing down to enjoy life.

Who cares if my previous weekend routine was navigating the crowds at Target? If were good on toilet paper and cereal, I started to stay at home and maybe go for a walk outside instead.

I focused on learning to love myself and knowing that no matter what happened in the end, everything would be okay. We would be okay. I would be okay.

Most importantly, I didn't do any of this alone. I talked about my fears and anxiety with my family and friends. I was honest with my boss about what I was going through so I didn't feel stressed on the days I was late to work or needed to work from home due to appointments. I sought professional help to provide me with guidance that my friends and family couldn't give me.I found a new medical practice that offered a more holistic approach to patient support well beyond the exam room.

I couldn't have found my way through the ditch that I was stuck in without feeling like I had a system to lift me up when I felt like I was falling down.

After a long journey of waiting, my story did end on the positive side. I hate saying it that way because I do believe that positive things can come from the waiting process. Regardless, I am happy to say that we are rounding out our long-awaited family of five at the end of the summer.

And yet I am still waiting—just in a different way now. Waiting to hear that heartbeat at every doctor's appointment, waiting to tell my kids they are going to have another sibling, waiting to see my baby girl's face when she enters this world.

We will always be waiting for something, but no matter where you are on the waiting journey, take the time to acknowledge what you are going through.

Seek out help even if just from a close friend, parishioner, or online support group. Get frustrated, cry, let it all out—and then take a deep breath and do something for yourself to ease your nerves.

And don't forget to take the time to reflect on what you have learned while you have been waiting. It definitely takes practice, but it is worth it because you are worth it.

Plus, you may just be surprised by what you discover.

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