No, I’m Not “One and Done.” It’s Secondary Infertility.


Looking back, I’ve “wasted” a lot of money on pregnancy tests over the years. But I guess that’s a testament to the power of Hope.

“Is he your only one?” she says, gesturing to my eight-year-old son.

It’s an innocent question. And one I probably would’ve asked, too. It’s how you get the basic scoop when you’re meeting another parent for the first time. Along with “What grade?” or “Where do you guys live?”— just another question.

“So far!” I usually answer.

That’s the most optimistic and succinct way I’ve found to convey that I’m not “One and Done” because I want to be.

I’m not mad at anyone for asking. There’s never any malice behind the question. But the truth is, there’s some sadness behind my answer.

I’m the youngest of six kids. I have tons of nieces and nephews, and now great-nieces and great-nephews. I LOVE big families. I always envisioned myself having one, too. In 2011, I married a guy who, among lots of other amazing qualities, also wanted a family. The following year, our son was born. Things were going along just as we’d hoped.

It’s probably just the stress.

Life got stressful. It does for all of us. Our family of three moved from Boston to Sacramento. We were away from our family and friends. My husband immersed himself in a competitive fellowship program, while I was taking care of our son and working remotely as a freelance writer.

Then, we moved back across the country to the Seacoast of New Hampshire. We started putting down our roots, making new friends, and doing an exorbitant amount of social activities that revolved around local farms. (New Hampshire, amirite?)

I admit, I often daydreamed about creative ways that we’d tell our families about baby #2. I checked out from time to time. And browsed through the maternity section at Target to, you know, stay current.

Still no baby news. But life had been stressful. It was probably just the stress, right?

Stress or secondary infertility? 

Well, we found out it wasn’t the stress. It’s something referred to as “secondary infertility.”  Unlike “primary infertility,” which we all probably just refer to as “infertility,” Mayo Clinic explains that secondary infertility is when you experience the inability to become pregnant or carry a baby to term after previously giving birth to a baby.

I have to admit, before my own personal experience, I didn’t even realize that was a thing. I just assumed, if you’re lucky enough to be able to have one, then, barring some sort of catastrophic health event, you’ll be able to have more. It sounds kind of ridiculous when I type that out, but it’s the truth. I guess I never really spent a lot of time thinking about, and definitely didn’t think it would be part of my story.

Why do I share my experience with secondary infertility?

I’ve thought a lot about whether I wanted to share this or not. Whether or not it would even be helpful. It’s not a particularly dramatic tale.

But I figure there are others out there who, like me, weren’t really aware of secondary infertility. This is a thing. It’s real. Maybe by reading this, you’ll be more sensitive to it, especially if you sense it may be the case for someone you know.

I want to be the first one to admit, I am extremely lucky to have had one baby. I don’t know the pain of primary infertility and haven’t had to endure the loss of a child through miscarriage or stillbirth. There are many, many worse things to have to go through in life. This is tough, but I can put it in perspective.

I guess I’m just putting it out there because I believe, like many different topics, if we share our experiences, we give them the opportunity to help someone else dealing with the same thing or something similar.

And sometimes, just by sharing a story that isn’t shiny, sparkly, and social-media-worthy, it can even help someone going through something completely different. It can be helpful to realize we all have our “things.”

Life doesn’t always turn out the way we expect it to. 

I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I suspect that most of us have had a least one thing happen that we simply didn’t see coming. Life doesn’t always turn out the way we expect it to. But we can move forward anyway! I’m someone who believes that everything happens for a reason—or you can, at the very least, find meaning in your suffering. 

I still believe it’s possible that I might have another baby. We’ve all heard those stories about it happening against the odds. But I also accept that, most likely, it will not happen. Ooof. That’s a hard sentence to write.

So yes, looking back, I’ve “wasted” a lot of money on pregnancy tests over the years. But I guess that’s a testament to the power of Hope.