Babble is featuring an interesting piece today by journalist and author Lynn Harris that sheds light on the hush-hush subject of secondary infertility and miscarriage. Secondary infertility is defined as “the inability to become pregnant or to carry a pregnancy to term following the birth of one or more biological children.” According to RESOLVE, the national infertility association, “over three million Americans are affected by secondary infertility. While they outnumber those who experience primary infertility, they are less likely to seek medical or psychological help.”
Barbara Collura, the executive director of RESOLVE, says, “Secondary infertility is very common, but often invisible” because people typically respond, “You already have a kid — what are you complaining about?” Harris says that’s precisely why secondary infertility has remained a taboo subject, because those who’ve experienced it “know what they’re missing and, by the very same token, don’t feel entitled to complain.”
Harris gives a really poignant example of the mixed feelings associated with secondary infertility via Kelcey Kintner of the The Mama Bird Diaries. When Kinter was having trouble getting pregnant again, a nurse at her OBGYN office said, “You should be grateful you have two. There are many women who come through here who may never have one.” Kintner thought, “Do you think I lack gratitude for my girls? Why can’t both feelings co-exist?”
Deanna Pledge, a psychologist in Columbia, MO who specializes in women’s sexual health and family issues, says, “The experience of having been ‘successful’ before can make subsequent ‘failure’ more frustrating and painful. Women say, ‘I’ve already done it once, so what happened? What’s wrong with me?'” I’ll admit, I’m sort of afraid to get pregnant again, because my first pregnancy was so easy. I’m worried that the second one will be complicated or that I might lose the baby. After watching a close friend, New York comedian Jenny Rubin, experience five miscarriages, I know the toll it can take on a woman’s psyche.
Last June, she wrote on her blog:
A couple of weeks ago I had my fifth miscarriage. I think with six, you get an eggroll. The entire first two years of my marriage have been spent getting pregnant and losing it over and over again. It is painful and scary and a very solitary time for me. I don’t think people fully understand the impact it can have on a woman. It is heartbreaking. And like I always say, I’m basically 40 – time is passing me by like crazy. It’s crazy – crack addicts have babies every second. Me? I have a fruit shake and the baby dies. Oh, I know it will all work out. People always say that. “You’ll be a mom one day” and “at least it happened early.” Ha. When somebody’s parent dies, do you say, “Well, at least you have another one?” Ahhh, but they don’t mean any harm. And it is a hard subject to talk about. But it’s funny, I have no problem talking about it. But society continues to whisper it like a disease.
It’s time to raise our voices about this important subject that affects so many women. Have any of you exerienced multiple miscarriages or secondary infertility? Have you stopped trying to get pregnant as a result? Has it affected your marriage or relationship?
Photo: Greg Hayter via Flickr