A sweet card from a loved one with a picture of our first baby girl when I was struggling with IVF.
If you’ve been hangin’ out at the ByeByeCry Club for a bit, you know that we’re all about sharing the best tips for soothing colic, supporting friends and family through colic, and bringing awareness to many topics, like Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month.
Well, today’s blog is gonna get a bit more personal.
Ok… a LOT more personal.
And if you’re new here – Welcome! To re-introduce myself & my family, I’m Samantha. I’m a mom to two beautiful girls, both of whom suffered from severe colic.
When my husband, Eddie, and I decided to try for Baby #2, we thought it’d be the same journey and result as we had with #1: get pregnant naturally, hospital birth, be a family of 4, you know… but boy,
Were we wrong.
We could never have imagined just how hard it could be.
Keep reading to learn more about my difficult journey with secondary infertility.
What is Secondary Infertility?
Secondary fertility is when you’ve already conceived and birthed a child without any trouble but can’t get pregnant or carry a baby to term a second time. Many things can cause this. Problems with sperm or the release of the egg, conditions of the uterus, previous complications/risk factors, or unexplained infertility are all potential causes.2
Secondary infertility can come as a shock. Especially if a couple had no problems getting pregnant with their first. That’s exactly what happened to me and my husband.
We didn’t see it coming.
How to Know if Fertility Treatments Are Right for You
This is an example of a shipment of one of my IVF treatments I did at home.
This is, of course, a big conversation to have. One that some women may not think about when trying to have a baby. One that couples might need some support navigating.
For me, my support system saved me.
A family member recommended that, since I was over the age of 30 and we’d been trying for 6 months, I should go get a doctor’s evaluation. According to Center for Reproductive Health, “From age 30 to 35, wait at least 6 months, but don’t wait much longer than that.”3 Since “a 30-year-old woman is half as fertile as a 20-year-old woman,”1 I took her advice.
I am SO glad I did!
IVF wasn’t our first stop, however. It was after 3 failed IUI’s (Intrauterine Insemination, a procedure in which a sperm is placed directly into the uterus) and a doctor's recommendation that we decided to do IVF.
Does IVF Work for Secondary Infertility?
IVF did eventually work for me, but I also want to acknowledge that there are many women that it does not work for.
Was it easy? No way.
Was it painless? Nope. Painful in many ways.
Was it worth it? Absolutely.
It’s different for every person, no two situations are the same. And if IVF is a struggle or didn’t work for you, I see you.
I feel like secondary infertility is oftentimes overlooked in society. It’s assumed that because you already have one baby, you don’t have issues with conceiving… But that’s not always true.
People would constantly pepper us with questions, asking, "When are you going to have another one? What are you waiting for? Don’t you want your daughter to have a brother or sister?” We heard so many examples of things that you should NEVER say to someone struggling with infertility.
It was a constant reminder that we were trying so hard, but it wasn’t working. We’d done 3 IUIs and a couple of rounds of IVF, and people were still asking these things. I chose not to respond because it hurt to talk about and people’s lack of awareness and sensitivity added even more stress to the situation.
We DID end up conceiving through IVF, and I’m forever grateful.
But it’s also important to remember that there are so many women who go through so much more than this to get pregnant. For some, it never works. This is honestly nothing compared to the journey of so many IVF warriors out there.
We see you and know how strong you are!
Balancing Secondary Infertility, IVF, & IUI… All While Raising Our First Child
Our firstborn was still a baby when we started on our infertility journey. Even though she had conquered colic, she was still very unaffectionate. Her speech was extremely delayed, and it took time for her personality to form.
My husband and I started trying to have a second baby when our first was just 6 months old… Eager beavers, you say? Just a couple of ambitious parents looking for more sleepless nights? Perhaps, LOL! But in all honesty, I was exhausted because of colic and feared I’d never be ready to start over and try for a second baby. So we decided, because we wanted her to have a sibling so much, we would dive in head first.
But when I ended up going through IVF, I remember feeling anxious. The truth was –
I hadn’t even bonded with my first baby yet.
Sitting around all these moms in the waiting room of the IVF clinic who were yearning for a taste of motherhood made me carry an immense amount of guilt.
I wanted this baby for my daughter.
I felt like it would be selfish if I didn’t make this sacrifice for her.
But I was scared for myself on a whole different level, wondering things such as:
What if I never bonded with my first or my second baby?
What if this baby had colic too?
I also wanted nothing more than to have another shot at motherhood. To be healed from my first experience.
I dreamed of newborn cuddles.
I worried it wasn’t going to be in the cards for me.
But I wanted it SO BAD.
And felt disappointed when treatments were failing.
I felt like I was failing. But I couldn’t talk to anyone about it because they’d just say, “Be thankful you at least have one. Why are you trying so hard to have another baby?”
My honest answer would have been,
“So that my daughter always has someone when we are gone.”
I was so worried that I may not be able to give my daughter the greatest gift in life – a sibling. Especially after my IUIs and the first round of IVF had failed. It was heartbreaking that my daughter wouldn’t have a sister or a brother to rely on.
On top of everything we were going through, our lives (and everyone’s) were about to change.
How the Pandemic Impacted My Infertility Journey, Treatments, and Our Life
Ah, 2020. A year the world will never forget.
And a year that our family will always remember for our own reasons, as I was also struggling with secondary infertility.
We were extremely isolated and unable to think about anything else except our infertility and the virus enveloping the world.
No date nights.
No outdoor play for our toddler.
Nightly board games at home.
The ultimate recipe for cabin fever, am I right?!
In the end, it brought us closer.
But the worries were exacerbated by all the unknowns at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. No one knew anything about the virus or how deadly it could be.
Cue the soundtrack from Frozen 2… “Into the UNKNOWN…!”
Was it safe to be outside? I was in the doctor’s office every single day trying to get pregnant and always around people. There weren’t any cars on the road. It felt like the world had ended.
Could I get the procedures I needed? They shut down the fertility surgical center during COVID for all medical procedures. I was advised to start pumping myself with hundreds of needles/hormones. The doctors told me they hoped they would open back up, but we had no idea when or if that was happening.
Was I putting myself in a dangerous situation? I was afraid I was growing all my eggs and wouldn’t be able to get them out of me if the surgical center was closed. Not knowing if it was actually going to open again was terrifying. Luckily, by the time I had finished that cycle of IVF, it did open back up.
It was beyond stressful. The process was already unconventional, plus throwing the unknown of a pandemic into the mix…
It was a lot.
We went through infertility treatments at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. There were many consecutive weeks when I went to the clinic daily. Eddie was never once allowed to come in with me. The day I finally got pregnant, Eddie had to wait in the parking lot. Of course, we had to capture that moment… one we’ll never forget.
Eddie stood outside during my transfer with a handmade poster he had colored. He couldn’t come in with me due to the pandemic. This is the day I finally got pregnant.
IT FINALLY HAPPENED!
We were elated! When we found out I was pregnant, Eddie and I cried together in each other’s arms. Well, mine was more of an ugly cry into his shirt for about 10 minutes straight… haha!
I’ll never forget that day. Our second baby was on her way.
How My Husband’s Thoughtfulness and Unwavering Support Got Me Through IUI & IVF
Eddie helped fill the needles and administer my treatments. And Here he is when he surprised me with a homemade Italian dinner!
To Eddie – my incredible support partner,
I have the most gratitude for you.
My husband was and continues to be truly amazing. Here are just a few of the sweet things he did for me when I was struggling with infertility:
The romantic spread that Eddie prepared to surprise me when I was going through IVF in the middle of the pandemic.
1. That’s Amore! During the height of COVID, I was struggling with IVF. All the restaurants were closed. So, my husband brought the restaurant to me! Eddie typed up a menu and named it “That’s Amore.” He set the table with a red checkered tablecloth, fresh flowers, and a candle. When I came in, he pretended to be my butler! He had a white towel over his arm and everything, as he poured me some wine. It was the most romantic meal and gesture in the world.
This is the menu that Eddie prepared for our romantic “That’s Amore” dinner.
2. He joined a flower club so I would get flowers delivered all the time with a cute love note!
3. He also hid a bunch of flashcards around the house with things he loves about me written on them. I went on a scavenger hunt to find them. They made my day!
4. Eddie supported me with each of my at-home treatments, from mental and emotional support to filling the needles and administering my shots. He was there for me every step of the way. I’ll never forget his love and care.
5. At night, Eddie would read to me at our bedside. I was tired of watching TV, and his voice calmed me and would help me drift off to sleep peacefully.
Our “last shot” pictured above was really the last shot of treatments… and I was at the end of the first trimester of pregnancy already.
Most people don’t know this, but you have to continue to do needles throughout the entire first trimester of pregnancy, many times more than twice a day. This is after you FINALLY conceive through IVF. It was over 500 different needles for me. We definitely celebrated that last shot!
The progesterone needles shown above are super thick and really hurt. The IVF journey is beyond what anyone can imagine unless you go through it.
After all of this, I had major complications with my delivery and was in the ICU for a couple of days. To explain it as terrifying would be a massive understatement. On top of going through IVF, we just couldn’t believe this was how our birth experience went, but I was so thankful to have my husband by the side through it all.
Then 4 days later, our newborn baby girl was screaming for most of the day and night. Making it Round 2 for us with colic. After ALL that we’d been through…
Dealing With Colic After Completing My IVF Journey
I could not accept this as my story.
We’d just completed and gone through failed IUIs, rounds of IVF, and a traumatic birth experience. Now a repeat of colic.
I simply could not accept it. It didn’t seem fair that I was once again being robbed of what was explained to me as a blissful experience – motherhood. I’d been through so much to get here. I thought there had to be some silver lining hiding somewhere.
I felt defeated.
Because we’d already lived through colic once and had been through hell, I felt like the universe was giving me an opportunity to come up with a solution to help calm a colicky baby.
My journey definitely played a role in the creation of the ByeByeCry™ Sound Machine.
I experienced such a build-up of emotions, as I struggled with motherhood as a whole. I knew I had to use my energy to overcome all of this adversity and try to have something wonderful come out of it.
… and that is exactly what happened!
I created ByeByeCry™ in the hopes that other women can have some relief for their children and themself.
If you went through a fertility struggle or wanted a baby SO BAD, but then motherhood did not look the way you dreamed it would… I see you.
If you are getting pumped with hormones, and then have to put on a brave face and hide how hard motherhood really is… I see you.
If you want that connection with your baby that you always thought would come naturally, but after trying so hard to get pregnant in an unnatural way, many things start to cross your mind when the bond does not naturally form…I see you.
In moments of reflection and gratitude for my journey, I often think, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” The light will come.
And I want other women to know that and keep it in their hearts.
Think Positive! That was one of my mottos during this grueling time. It helped to have my daughter and husband around for support.
To other women who are on their journey through infertility, I say:
You are a warrior!
Infertility is a hard place to be. Your experience is going to be your own unique experience.
Take it one day at a time.
It’s OK to mourn the choices that have been taken away from you.
It’s okay to feel misunderstood.
Your infertility does not define you.
This isn’t your fault or your partner’s fault, even if one of you feels like it is.
Infertility comes with so many emotions.
It’s OK to feel angry, frustrated, bitter, helpless, hopeless, worried, scared, ashamed, sad, etc.
If someone isn’t supportive, avoid them. Protect your peace.
Above all else: Please take care of yourself.
I know IVF doesn’t work for many women, and that makes me so sad. Two thoughts that brought me hope along my journey are:
"God knows that it doesn’t matter how your children get to your family. It just matters that they get there."
“If you are going to keep trying, if this was your last attempt, if you do or don’t want to go through the adoption process, know that God has a plan for you, and His work is not yet done in you. You may not know what that looks like right now, but you will. Keep praying about it and believing that He has wonderful things in store for you.”
I’m so grateful for a space where we can share our journeys. It's challenging to go through things alone. A community is SO important. If it’s too hard to talk about, do what you need to process your feelings and journey. Read, vent, cry, and meet with friends who’ve been through it. You don’t have to suffer in silence alone. Find your IVF community on social media, and lean on people who know what it’s like to go through your struggle. You are not alone.
And, of course, we invite you to join our social media groups. The ByeByeCry Club welcomes you!
Cleveland Clinic, “Infertility Causes.” https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16083-infertility-causes#:~:text=You%20should%20seek%20help%20sooner,risk%20factor%20that%20affects%20fertility. Accessed 14 April 2023.
Shenoy, Chandra C., M.D. Mayo Clinic, “Secondary infertility: Why does it happen?” https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/infertility/expert-answers/secondary-infertility/faq-20058272 Accessed 20 April 2023.
Center for Reproductive Health, “6 signs you should see a fertility specialist.” https://fertilitydoctor.net/6-signs-you-should-see-a-fertility-specialist/ Accessed 11 May 2023.