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New Balance Sneakers for the entire family!

* This post is sponsored by Superbalist. It's the beginning of a new school year and the start of all kinds of extra-murals and sports for our crew... That means shoe shopping. More specifically, sneaker shopping! Growing feet need new trainers for netball, hockey,...

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Secondary infertility support | When there’s no “rainbow” to hold at the end of the storm…

by | Aug 23, 2022 | Just Motherhood, Trying to Conceive | 4 comments

Disclaimer: This post is written from my heart. The heart of a mother that knows loss and disappointment as we’ve walked the path of trying to conceive for the past 4 years. We’ve gone through treatments, surgery, diets, supplements, every fertility kit, and ovulation test and now find ourselves on the other side. We may not be a baby richer but that doesn’t mean this journey hasn’t been fruitful. I am writing this post to offer secondary infertility support to other women that may be experiencing the same because it’s easy to talk about the storm while cradling your rainbow baby but not having that rainbow doesn’t make YOU or the road you have traveled any less worthy or important.

When dreaming of starting a family we dream differently. For some the dream includes hopes for specific genders, for others, certain age gaps are important. Maybe family means adopting, surrogacy, loving step-children, or even multiples… Do you have “a number”? Or will one do? Maybe there’s no plan as you go with the flow.

When dreaming of our family, we didn’t agree on much except for one thing…

We wanted it BIG!

At least four, possibly five kids, and we were well on our way with the birth of our 3rd daughter in 2017. Shortly after her 1st birthday, I felt ready to start trying for another even though I was still breastfeeding. Many women fall pregnant while breastfeeding and Ava was feeding far less. Mr. Perfect was on the fence but knew he wanted a fourth. So, we decided to go with the flow and see what happens… In the past, I had always fallen pregnant before our girls’ 2nd birthdays so we arrogantly assumed the same would happen again.

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After a year of trying casually, nothing happened…

Ava turned 2 and still no baby bump. I wasn’t breastfeeding anymore so both Mr. Perfect and I went to see my gynecologist. We ran a few tests and all came back positive. We had no reason to believe we wouldn’t fall pregnant soon. The plan was to “up our game” making use of a monthly fertility tracker as well as ovulation tests.

11 Months later we would be pregnant!

After a year of fooling around and then 11 months of actively trying (I’ve never peed on more sticks in my life) we finally had our two lines but we would never get to hold our little miracle(s). I would experience my 2nd miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy alone, in the heart of the 2020 lockdown. As the world came to an almost silent halt, ours shattered.

Trying to conceive after a miscarriage scaled

*I shared a blog post; Pregnancy Loss again… Experiencing an ectopic pregnancy. It describes exactly what happened as well as what carried us through it all. If you’re reading this and you’ve experienced pregnancy loss, please know how sorry I am that we share this sorrow. And if you haven’t, my prayer is that you never will. If however that day comes – know that this post is waiting for you simply to share in your pain, without words having to be spoken.

Two years later, my wounds have healed and my heart has mended, growing bigger and deeper as I forever hold space for the little lives that could have been and I am forever changed. WE are forever changed.

What Secondary infertility support looked like for us…

After our loss, I took time to rest, my body needed to heal but 4 weeks post surgery I would experience my 1st period and with so many people telling me how fertile I would be after my miscarriage we went right back to trying as soon as the doctor gave us the go-ahead at my 6weeks check-up.

This time we’d take all the secondary infertility support we could get. Fertility kits, powders, supplements, drips, InsuMax-Q, Activ-Folate and a pregnancy vitamin (just in case). Mr. Perfect added PreLox to give his swimmers a little boost and we both drank StaminoGro. Diet and exercise became a priority. We were doing all the right things but nothing would happen…

ovulation tests

After Ava’s 4th birthday (3 years into our TTTC journey) I couldn’t take all the testing and pills anymore. I was also nearing my own birthday and 36 had always been the age I thought I’d be done with baby-making. It had been a decade of pregnancies, breastfeeding, trying to conceive, miscarriages, ectopic pregnancy and more.

To be honest, I wanted to give up.

My heart started to shift… I couldn’t stay focussed on the challenges we were experiencing. It was impossible to understand because no doctor, no blood test, no scan could find a reason for our struggles. It was labeled as “unexplained secondary infertility” but to us that made no sense at all. If you can’t explain something… How can you label it?

The next step would be fertility treatment

If you’re 35+ years old and been trying to conceive for more than 6 months most doctors will say it’s time to look into fertility treatment. We’d been riding the TTC rollercoaster for far longer than that so it was time for some difficult conversations. We stepped into the world of IVF, IUI, ICSI… There are so many options. And all depend on personal preference and of course finances.

secondary infertility support just a mamma blog

We had spoken about how far we’d be willing to go down this path and Timed Conception made the most sense. A timed intercourse cycle is a strategic way of optimising your fertile window by using medication and guidance from a medical team to stimulate egg production by the ovaries, induce ovulation, and improve chances for natural conception. It’s a low-intervention treatment option that we could start right away.

Our timed conception cycle(s)

Our doctor warned us that timed conception would take time and there were no guarantees but we had nothing to lose and it felt good being proactive and changing things up. On paper, our 1st cycle looked amazing. Two eggs ready and waiting, right on time. An injection and some “homework” 36 hours later and we could simply sit back and wait for our positive pregnancy test.

Unfortunately, the reality and side effects I experienced were not as rosy… The cocktail of hormones I was ingesting made me feel tired, irritable, restless, bloated, and constipated and the hot flashes convinced me I was entering early menopause.

secondary infertility supportjust a mamma
secondary infertility support

2 weeks later I would start bleeding. My period would be more painful than usual and that was the end of the road for me. I was exhausted, 4kg heavier, and NOT pregnant. To make things worse I had also developed a massive cyst causing discomfort and a touch of acne, just to go with how defeated I felt.

It was time to make a change…

All that was going on around us had made us lose sight of what was in front of us… US! The two of us, Mr. Perfect and I, the heart (and the start) of our family. The last 3 years had put us through so much and we were still holding on to one another. Tighter than ever before. Through every struggle and every tear, we had stuck together.

Somehow the challenges we faced and the trauma we survived had evolved and deepened our bond. I can’t put our love into words anymore… There’s simply too much of it. We look at one another differently now because it’s almost like we see more of each other. The love we share now has been the biggest and most unexpected gift from this experience.

how to deal with infertility as a couple

Our girls’ have also been right beside us. Praying daily for their sibling to arrive. It’s HARD hearing your children pray day after day and working through disappointment and unanswered prayers with them. Sometimes unfulfilled desires can feel like broken promises… We don’t understand why God “isn’t listening”. It’s a difficult lesson to learn – even more so at a young age. Somehow leaning on one another as a family changed them too. Now we have a home filled with empathy, gratitude and calm that only God’s presence can explain.

It was all too big for us.

We needed to refocus on God’s will. We needed to remember His promises and we needed to trust in His timing for our family. Something far easier said than done, for sure! BUT since making that decision my heart started to lift, I felt lighter and most importantly content. The girls’ also almost instantly followed my lead.

It would take Mr. Perfect 5 more cycles of timed conception, 3 different doctors and a few more months later to find himself in the same space as we were… A journey I happily took with him because we all have our own process and pace. God speaks to us differently. He needed more time and “action” to get to where he was supposed to be.

(It was during this time that I stopped sharing our journey on social media. We weren’t on the same page and sharing only my views of our family, didn’t feel right. Standing by my husband in silence would be far more important than any secondary infertility support I could offer.)

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So, what changed…

In time we both changed. God had been using all that had happened to mold us and shape us into “more of Him, and less of us”. He felt our pain, He grieved with us, He stood by us and He held us as we leaned into Him. Our answers couldn’t be found in the world, only the Word.

We could have let the label we were given and the challenges we had faced become our truth BUT Jesus had already set us free. Free for this world, this life, these difficulties… Because “the now”, that we so easily made our everything was in fact only our temporary. Our identities and the fulfillment we longed for weren’t locked up in the size of our family. (Nor the unfulfilled dreams dreamt, all the things we do, and the job titles behind our names.) It resided in Christ and Him alone.

  • So we chose to let go and make peace with our past. Doing this didn’t somehow erase our sadness but not having to carry it with us made space for the light to start shining through the darkness that surrounded us.
  • We chose to live in gratitude for everything we had already been given. Being grateful and giving thanks to God for EVERYTHING, from the smallest necessity to our biggest goals achieved… Living in gratitude changed our hearts completely and opened our eyes to the ways God shows us His love daily.
  • We chose not to put our joy in the present, because the now is only temporary. God has no beginning or end and therefore we put all our trust and hope in Him and the future He has planned for us.

These changes took time… It wasn’t an overnight shift. We needed to “train our minds” to think differently. Reminding ourselves how little we really know and how easily we place our trust in knowledge instead of faith.

Scriptures of affirmation for Secondary infertility support

To every couple reading this, please know these promises are true for you too. We don’t have to be strong today, simply FAITH FULL.

scriptures of affirmation for secondary infertility support
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secondary infertility support scriptures of affirmation for

Where are we now?

Four years later, our family might look the same… but we aren’t. A photo can’t capture it, but our family has grown. In love, happiness, faith, closeness and contentment. The holes we thought a baby would fill aren’t there anymore. Instead, our home feels joyful, incredibly blessed, warm and more chaotic than ever. In fact, Mr. Perfect and I, often look to one another and without saying a word, thank God for always knowing best and exactly what each one of us needed long before we realised it ourselves.

Seeing other couples fall pregnant isn’t a sad reminder of our loss anymore because we have a generous God. His light shines upon all His children. It doesn’t have an expiration date or a limited amount. Whatever is meant for us, will not pass us by. It may just be and look a little different from what we expected it to be.

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We are ready for whatever our future holds and pray the same for YOU too!

Miscarriage, infant and pregnancy loss and infertility of any sort isn’t something you can simply “get over” or “move past”. We find ourselves on different timelines and in different spaces. Our journeys and experiences aren’t the same and so too the outcome of it all will differ. We are however bound by the loss(es) we’ve faced. It changes us forever and we need to learn to live with the scars left behind… It can be a lonely road. Understandably so… No one feels comfortable around heartbreak and there’s nothing we can say to make this easier. One thing I do however know for certain is that the sadness you are feeling is valid. Hopefully, in sharing our journey and offering secondary infertility support that helped us, we can somehow help carry the heaviness in your heart too. If only for this moment when it feels too much to do so alone.

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4 Comments

  1. Sacha

    I’ve been longing for this to read. Just want to comment and share my side of my baby girl that would be 4 this year. I’ve been confused about the idea that I have too many questions. And this, your words give me comfort to be closer to the ones I love, that need the most out of me. And Our Heavenly Father. Thank you for your courage and love for these words put out of your heart. Watching you and your family grow so much makes a beyond difference in what love of the family looks like. You bring peace into my heart that I am not alone in this journey. Again, thank you 🌸

    Reply
    • Mari-Louise

      Dearest Sacha, I wish I had more than words. I wish I could just sit beside you, taking a moment to help you carry your loss and grief. Thank you for your comment and for also sharing your heart with us. I pray that God will feel God’s grip as He holds and guides you through this journey. Sending so much love.

      Reply
  2. Heather

    No words. Just tears. And a big hug xx

    Reply
    • Mari-Louise

      Thank you Heather. We have worked our way through this sea of storms but now we feel washed cleaned by the entire experience and ready for our next wonderful chapter of life to begin. Whatever that may be…

      Reply

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