I have been diagnosed with unexplained secondary infertility, a condition in which couples who have already had one child naturally are, for no apparent reason, unable to have another. Statistically, most couples with this diagnosis conceive within two years but we’re going on three.
I have conducted endless Google searches in hopes of finding a story similar to mine. I found a handful of message boards and blogs of women suffering from infertility, some of them with happy endings and some not. But for the most part, nobody I can relate to. I felt alone and was desperately seeking a voice similar to mine to give me hope and faith. Lots of people will tell you they know someone who is going through the same thing or went through the same thing, but where are they? Why don’t they speak up and let people know their story?
I decided to be that voice. I know how much more difficult this road can be when you travel it alone; feeling like God is punishing you, feeling like everyone is looking at you and wondering why you are waiting so long. Hearing comments like “Don’t wait too long to give her a sibling otherwise she’ll be spoiled.” I know it’s not meant to hurt, but it does. A lot.
I started on this journey almost three years ago, a few months after my daughter turned two; I was 26 at the time. Getting pregnant with her was pretty easy. I had an amazingly easy pregnancy and a really quick labor. I thought it would take no time to get pregnant again.
Months passed and the pregnancy tests kept coming up negative. I knew I should go see the doctor, but part of me didn’t want to accept that something might be wrong. After eight months with no success I went to my doctor. He ran every kind of test on both me and my husband and found nothing amiss, so I was referred to a reproductive endocrinologist (RE). I put off going for two months because I was still refusing to accept that I needed medical assistance to have a child. Finally, at the ten month mark, I went.
As a psychologist in a women’s prison, I'd encounter incarcerated women who were drug addicted and pregnant.
I had my initial consultation and the doctor seemed positive that a couple rounds of Clomid (a fertility drug) would do the trick. Three rounds of the drug with two intrauterine inseminations later and still no pregnancy. I became discouraged and didn’t call them back for the next cycle.
I decided we’d try on our own for a while. I started to track my basal body temperature (BBT). BBT tracking helps predict ovulation based on changes in your resting body temperature. After six months of tracking there was still no pregnancy.
During this time, I was on an emotional rollercoaster. I was working as a psychologist in a women’s correctional facility. The job was stressful for many reasons, but mostly because on a daily basis I would encounter incarcerated women who were drug addicted and pregnant. I couldn’t understand the justice in that. I began crying myself to sleep every night, waking up in the middle of the night with panic attacks or just plain crying, crying while driving to work, and crying quietly in my office at work. Soon the tears turned to rage. I was raging at everyone I met. I was angry at my clients. How could God give them a child and not me? I eventually had to leave the job because it was taking too much of a toll on my own mental health and making me very resentful of God.
I was angry at my friends who told me they were expecting their second after only a couple months. I was angry at my sister-in-law who told me she was expecting her fourth, and then my other sister-in-law made her pregnancy announcement not too long after that. I was especially angry at my husband. I had no good reason for the anger other than the fact that it made his pain less painful to me, but he suffers with this too and blaming him wasn’t changing the reality of our situation. I still wasn’t pregnant.
After the birth of my nephew, I couldn’t pull myself together. There was this constant heavy feeling in my chest and I couldn’t get the tears out of my eyes. The pain was so strong that I couldn’t control when and where I’d let it out. Every milestone or family simcha was tinged with this pain. Each birthday party for my daughter is bittersweet for me. Yes she is growing up, thank God, but she is still alone.
I caved to the pressure and went back to the RE and started rounds of fertility injections. My husband gave me injections every night. I was waking up at 6 a.m. for blood work and ultrasounds every day, suffering from terrible bloating, swollen ovaries, a five to seven pound weight gain (at least!), cramping, and fatigue. Three rounds later and still no pregnancy.
I’m done ruining my life and my marriage with my anger, jealousy, and negativity. I'm getting my life back.
I stopped taking pregnancy tests months ago. I give extra charity, make challah with a blessing almost every week, light extra shabbat candles, and pray my heart out. I’ve also gone to numerous rabbis for blessings. I went to Israel and prayed at the Western Wall and I even went to B’nei Brak and chased down Rebbetzin Kanievsky (literally) with my daughter on my hip and broke down as I begged her for a blessing. She hugged me and told me to pray.
I’m done playing the blame game; I’m done being angry at God and feeling like I’m being tormented or condemned to eternal suffering. I’m done ruining my life and my marriage with my anger, jealousy, and negativity. I don’t have any more energy for it. I’m done crying every night (now I only cry once or twice a month). I’m done being ashamed and embarrassed of my condition. I’m done feeling alone and isolated. I’m done trying to avoid those “so when are you guys going to have another one?” questions.
I want my life back. I want to enjoy the two beautiful gifts God has already handed to me on a silver platter and said “Here, have an amazing life!” The gifts I have not paid attention to for the past three years because I’ve been too busy being miserable. They are my sweet, kind, sensitive, brilliant husband and my beautiful, incredible, amazing, daughter.
I began taking my life back eight months ago and while it still hurts each month when I see that I haven’t been blessed with another child, I can still hope and pray while I enjoy the blessings I already have. I know that God has a plan and that there is a reason for the situation I am currently in. Even though I do not understand it, I am learning to accept it. God has always pulled through for me before; there’s no reason for me to start believing otherwise now.
Share in other people's pain and take nothing for granted.
In the meantime, I’ve learned many lessons, the most important one being to share in other people's pain. Back when things were great I’d hear someone was sick and feel bad for a brief moment, but then go on with my life. Everything was always so perfect, I never really thought about other people’s pain and sadness. Now I pray for others before I pray for myself. I am hurt when I hear others are hurting. I also remind myself to count my blessings daily and take nothing for granted. Most of all, I’ve learned to be grateful for good health because I’m learning the hard way that it is completely out of my hands.
Lastly, for those of you who do not suffer from this condition, please be sensitive to your family and friends. Do not take for granted that they are waiting. Asking or making comments can be completely innocent on your part, but so painful for them. Pray for these individuals that God should bless them with healthy children in the right time.
Please pray for me and know that if you’re in this situation, you are not alone. You can add your name in the comment section below so that we can pray for you and hopefully share good news soon.
To be in touch with the author for support/questions, please email Rachelfaygahope@gmail.com.