Since I am most likely new to the majority of you reading this blog, please allow me a paragraph to introduce myself. I write under the pseudonym SciFi Dad, but you can call me SFD for short. I am a Canadian father to a three year old girl as well as a gender-to-be-determined fetus whose arrival is currently pegged at early October. (The Canadian thing means that I will have what most of you, as Americans, will believe to be typographical errors, usually insertions of the letter “u”. Try not to find my spelling humourous.) I have been blogging for nearly two years at my personal blog, and have recently started guest blogging for Babies Online – The Blog. I was asked to write from the dad’s perspective (which is far easier for me than from the mom’s perspective, believe it or not) about topics that would appeal to their audience.
For my inaugural post, I have decided to share our struggles with secondary infertility.
When my wife and I decided we were ready to leave the DINK life behind and start trying for a baby, we did not have a long wait. Our second month found us pregnant with the child who would eventually become the daughter I mentioned above. We had friends who struggled with fertility, but the experience was completely foreign to us.
When our daughter turned one, we decided we would begin trying again for a second a few months later. Unfortunately, the start of those efforts was delayed by an injury (I broke my ankle), so my daughter was almost 16 months in July of 2006 when we began trying again. Now, as you have read above, our story had a happy ending, although it took a year and a half to get there.
What is interesting is that if you asked my wife, she would tell you we had been trying for a year and a half before conceiving. However, if you asked me, I would have said a few months. Why the discrepancy? Because in June of 2006 my in-laws began living with us periodically while their new home was constructed. They slept at our house for three nights at a time every few weeks, usually timing their visits perfectly with my wife’s ovulation cycle. And while at first we valiantly tried to make the arrangement work, we eventually just felt like a couple of teenagers trying to do it quietly so their parents didn’t catch them. Combine that inability to properly schedule our efforts with the fact that my in-laws are not the easiest guests to have around, and you have a cocktail for failure that lasted until the middle of October, 2007 (when mercifully, their home was completed).
So when my wife started investigating her fertility in the fall of 2007, I gently suggested that perhaps her reduced stress level and our newfound freedom in our home would result in success. However, she genuinely thought something might be wrong, so she had blood work and some other tests done, but they showed no signs of a cause. She proceeded to take non-traditional steps, including acupuncture and seeing a naturopath, without success. By the time she got to the point of investigating my part in our inability, it was December, and I deferred providing a specimen until the new year, explaining to my doctor my belief that while my in-laws were guests our efforts “didn’t count”, and therefore we had only been trying for two months. My wife had her last period January 1, 2008.
According to the reading we both did while we were trying, secondary infertility is quite common, and some couples never actually conceive a second time; it’s difficult not to feel like something is broken when you’ve got one child and cannot give them a sibling. We were fortunate to eventually conceive. However, it also goes to show how much external factors can influence fertility. My wife had cut out caffeine (a trying time for everyone in our family, not to mention the neighbours, phone solicitors, and retail personnel), alcohol, and any other thing she could find a source online that told her she would conceive if she reduced her intake of. We trended her temperature for months and months, trying (as best as we could) to catch her ovulation date. In short, we weren’t just haphazardly trying; we were doing everything we could do from a purely natural standpoint. But it wasn’t until we could control her (and to a less significant point my) stress levels that we were able to conceive.
By no means do I think that stress is the key to fertility; that was not the point of this post. I just wanted to share our experience with the intention of opening a dialog with the readers. Are you experiencing secondary infertility? What steps have you taken to improve your odds at conceiving a sibling for your child?
(Note that the previous link is not the only source for information about secondary infertility on the web. A simple search using Google or some other search engine will yield pages of results. Also note that for the most part, this is a personal and anecdotal piece, not intended to be taken as scientific or medical fact.)