Secondary Infertility: Finding Peace through the Holy Family

catholic secondary infertility

I will never forget the moment I first heard about secondary infertility. It was earlier this summer when I was lying next to my two-year-old son, Peter, during his nap. I was looking at my Instagram messages, and read one from a woman asking for prayers. She wrote that she had secondary infertility and no treatment was helping her.

My heart began pounding, and my mind began tracing back to the pain of the past two years: the heaviness of trying to conceive, yearning to conceive, yet being unable to conceive. I knew I had just read the name of the diagnosis I was experiencing, one that I later found out affects more than 3 million women in the United States alone.

The Diagnosis

Secondary infertility is defined as being unable to become pregnant, or to carry a full term pregnancy, following the birth of one or more children. You can read more about it here and what you can do about it here. I don’t remember learning about secondary infertility in nursing school. If I had, like most, I passed by it without a thought. Yet after months of physical tests and exams, it became my diagnosis.

For a few weeks, it was a diagnosis that totally and painfully consumed my heart, mind, and soul.  Through God’s miraculous grace, and in particular His gift of the Holy Family, I have found peace and joy.

The Pain of Secondary Infertility

Ever since I was young, I always dreamt of having a big family. I have five siblings, and they are counted among my greatest joys. I became pregnant with my son just two months after marrying my husband Mike. The thought of possibly being infertile was the last thing on my mind.

When I found out from my doctor that I was experiencing secondary infertility, my entire being filled with sorrow and anger. Why was this happening to me? I felt foolish for all the pregnancy tests I had purchased over the past two years. I felt like I had wasted time each day wondering when I would be pregnant, keeping a room open for a nursery, and daydreaming about Peter as an older brother.

The diagnosis sounded cold and harsh. I told God that I knew it is completely in His power to allow me to become pregnant. It is a good and beautiful thing that I want to become pregnant. So why, why God, wasn’t it happening?

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The Miraculous Peace of the Holy Family

It took me a few months to share with others what I was experiencing. Yet I began to see how important it was to share. Vulnerability always brings connection and healing, to both the speaker and the listener. I spoke with a friend about my diagnosis and the sorrow I was feeling.

Her response was beautiful: “The Holy Family is a small, yet powerful family of three. Look to them for peace.” As soon as she spoke these words I immediately felt the beginning of healing taking place within my heart.

The Holy Family is a small, yet powerful family of three. Look to them for peace. #BISblog // Click To Tweet

The Joy I Found In Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

Healing continued as I reflected on the lives of each person within the Holy Family. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph—a small family, yet one full of love for God and for one another. God calls me to imitate them in their love for Him and love of my own family. I am called to rejoice in gratitude for the gifts right in front of me, the gifts of my husband and son. I am called to live abundantly and flourish in the present moment, where grace is found.

Incredible joy fills my life as I continue to reflect each day on the Holy Family, on their lives and their love for one another. A family of three, like my family, ready and open to do the Father’s will.

I think of Mary, not only a physical mother to Jesus, but also a spiritual mother to many and ask her to intercede for me when I feel weak. I call upon Carpenter Joseph to help chisel away at this cross for me with his tools of mercy and love, a cross that his Son lovingly placed in my life and is asking me to carry it just as lovingly as it was given to me. And I ask the Child Jesus to walk with me and to fill my own heart with the same joy that He and Mother Mary experienced when they first gazed in wonder at each other Christmas night.

A Constant Struggle

Even still, even now, I struggle. Each day I know I must call upon the help of the Holy Family. The reality of my diagnosis hits my heart unexpectedly. It showed me my need to trust in God’s merciful love and plan for my life. Just a few weeks ago I wrote this post on my Instagram page:

Secondary infertility is a constant struggle of telling myself I’m okay and at peace if I don’t have any more children one day, then up crying in the middle of the night because I want so many more the next. A struggle between trying not to feel guilty that I want more children when I already have a child and many are unable to have one. Soaking up every single second with my son because I know it may be the last time I experience any of it again. Praising God that I can enter into His suffering in this little way, and trusting that He will bring His glory, because He always does.

Secondary infertility is a constant struggle of being at peace if I don’t have any more children one day, then crying in the middle of the night because I want so many more the next. #BISblog // Click To Tweet

The Holy Family is with You

Sisters, know that if you are experiencing infertility, if you are struggling to conceive, or if you are single and yearning to be married and have children…the Holy Family is with you. My heart is with you. I am praying for you. Be at peace and never give up hope, fully trusting in God’s promise that, “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:45)

We are praying for you as you bear this cross. Christ is with you!

Secondary Infertility: Finding Peace through the Holy Family #BISblog // Click To Tweet

Claire Couche is a regular contributor to the BIS blog. She is a wife, mother, and blogger. Claire graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville where she studied history and theology. She later received her B.S.N. and worked as an oncology nurse. Combining her love of the faith, the medical field, and ethical fashion, Claire is the creator of Moscati Scrubs, an ethical medical scrubs company inspired by the life and miracles of Saint Giuseppe Moscati. You can learn more Claire here and about Moscati Scrubs here.

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  • Reply
    January 4, 2019 at 6:46 pm

    Please pray for the kids too. My child is desperately disappointed at being an only child and reminds me weekly they want a brother or sister. With all the big families around us, my child feels like the only single child in the world.

  • Reply
    Nicole Kidd
    January 5, 2019 at 11:29 am

    My heart and prayers go out to you too! I so deeply know the pain, the struggle, the prayers and the turmoil you are going through. It’s been 9 years of waiting and hoping for my family to have more children. We were blessed with two amazing daughters then my husband was diagnosed with cancer 9 years ago. I thank God daily that he was cured from it, but we now have been unable to have more children. The more I learn and grow in the Catholic Faith, the more I realize this cross we bear is for our sanctification. I see all the ways God has used it to help others and for our hearts to grow in love for others by being more empathetic and also more open to sharing my pain. Connection is probably one of the greatest forms of love I’ve been able to give to other women through our journey. So many feel lost and lonely in their battle with infertility and knowing they aren’t alone, that someone else cares and is praying for them personally means SO MUCH. Often times it’s the difference between giving up hope and holding onto that little shred of hope they have left. Letting that little flicker burn brighter each day into a flame so big it shines to everyone around them. I’ve learned how better to sacrifice, how to offer it up, how to truly have a relationship with the Lord that goes beyond basic. I can go to Him with my anger and not feel like that’s “not allowed”, because I know He wants all of me! Not just the words or praise, Thanksgiving, and supplication but also my pain and frustration when I don’t understand why my prayers haven’t been answered. This 9 years has been long, painful, and yet also a gift. I’ve grown so much in my faith and prayer life because of this cross we bear and my joy for that goes beyond what I ever could’ve imagined. I will praying for you personally and I thank you for sharing your story. 💗

  • Reply
    December 29, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    My prayers are with you. I’m not sure the path you are on, but if your heart still longs to have more children , I hope you find a way, say through the adoption or fostering children who are already born and in need of a family. If that isn’t the right path for you, I wish you peace, strength and courage as you walk your path.

  • Reply
    December 29, 2019 at 8:51 pm

    I know the pain all to well. I am struggling with primary infertility for 16 1/2 years. I did have a miscarriage almost 6 years ago. We did adopt a sibling group of 3, but my heart still yearns to experience pregnancy and labor. Praying for all of you and every one who struggles to conceive that precious child their heart so desires.

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