Effect On A Child

Emotions of Secondary Infertility

With millions of people affected by the painful experience of secondary infertility, the net effect is still generally downplayed since many times the condition is unacknowledged and invisible.  Having had one child, a couple may find themselves in the bewildering place of infertility trying to figure out how it could have happened.  Secondary infertility takes them by surprise and leaves them struggling to cope with myriad emotions, fears and questions.  The distressing feelings of anger, frustration, grief, depression and guilt along with many other emotions color their world and affect everything within it.

Coping Within The Marriage

Secondary infertility has the power to challenge even strong and stable marriages.  People have different coping styles and while one may need to talk, the other partner may want to distance themselves from the pain, isolating the other partner while insulating themselves.   The common sense of being overwhelmed with the inability to handle the crisis adds to the tension and couples out-of-sync with one another end up in anger directed at their partner.  This emotional pain can then create a situation where one blames the other for their inadequacy and so it goes.  The situation can escalate and generate marital problems as couples are faced with the fact that they may never realize their dreams of a larger family.

Who Is In The Corner

But the couple is not the only factor in the equation.  This is a family crisis and there is another victim in the corner.  This one is small and the effects of secondary infertility are affecting this child as well as the parents.  It is important for parents to demonstrate to their child that the problems they are facing are not being hidden, but are being dealt with. Children really are sensitive to what is going on around them.  The lack of communication can send a young child into a fantasy world where they resort to magical thinking in order to make sense of the situation.  A child does not have the ability to separate themselves from what they perceive is happening to their parents and may well take on the negative feelings thinking they have done something displeasing.  By helping the child understand the parental side of things and helping him work through his own feelings, damage control can be kept at a minimum.

We Are A Family

The guilt of not providing the child with a sibling is a common experience for couples since they feel that they are failing their child.  The thought that the children would be close emotionally is not necessarily guaranteed and the child should not have to carry the load of the loss of an idealized sibling relationship.  It is important for parents to acknowledge and mourn their loss and then fortify and strengthen their existing family, accepting that their family is valid regardless of the number of participants.


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