Helen Davies: My experience of secondary infertility
Secondary infertility can be extremely upsetting, especially if you’ve had no difficulty in having children before. The urge to have another baby, extend the family and produce a sibling for your child/children is still as strong as if you were trying for your first. It is estimated around 3.5 million people in the UK struggle with infertility and of those seeking IVF treatment, 1 in 3 couples have secondary infertility.
Over the past few years, I have been on a mission to raise awareness of secondary infertility and help as many couples as I can. We must talk about it, raise the profile of the term and in doing so, remove the stigma that is attached to it.
Anyone who has read my book “More Love to Give” or visited the dedicated website Secondary Infertility Matters will know I am qualified to talk about the subject. It took me four years and £20,000 of IVF treatment to conceive again after the birth of my son.
Here, I provide my top tips for making your fertility journey more manageable:
- Remove yourself from situations you don’t feel comfortable in – it’s OK to be selective about the invitations you accept to social events and parties —especially those where there will be lots of babies and children. You can either be honest about why you need to take a pass or just decline the invitation without giving a reason. Never feel guilty about taking care of yourself.
- Share your story and feelings – once you realise you’re entitled to your emotions, find an outlet for them. Sharing how you feel and what you are going through will not only be a release, but it will also help your family and friends better understand what you are going through. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing, try writing your feelings down in a journal. I began to write down my feelings and as the IVF treatment progressed, my writing turned into a diary which ultimately became a 97,000-word memoir.
- Prep for tough questions– no matter how many times you've been asked, "When will you have another baby?" the query still stings. Consider a stock remark for common, uncomfortable scenarios: i.e. “Are you having another soon?” reply “We hope to have more”. In my experience, I have found if you are honest with how you feel and how sensitive you are people will not approach the subject again.
- Find a doctor that supports you - when dealing with secondary infertility, some doctors don't take patients concerns seriously. It's important to see a reputable gynaecologist early in the process, one who will understand your desire to expand your family and is also committed to getting to the bottom of what's going on, even if you conceived your first child without a hitch.
- Connect with your partner - remember that your partner is also coping with secondary infertility along with you, and while he may be dealing with it differently, it can be extremely helpful to check in with each other on an emotional level. Communication is key throughout the whole process - don’t stop sharing your thoughts and concerns if things are not going the way you had hoped.
Helen Davies will be speaking on Secondary Infertility – what you need to know and why it matters – on Saturday 4th November 12.45-13.30.
More Love to Give is available to buy on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/More-Love-Give-Secondary-Infertility/dp/0995579407