The infertility charity RESOLVE defines it thus:
"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. The birth of the first child does not involve any assisted reproductive technologies or fertility medications."
It doesn't seem to be talked of as much as primary infertility, or the decision to remain child free. You have a biological, naturally-conceived child, so how can you say you're infertile?
Well, yes, on the face of it I don't exactly look infertile, running around after my three year old clutching baby wipes and snacks. But infertility has been in my life ever since we started to try for another child two and a half years ago. And now this merry dance is over: my ovaries simply don't have any eggs left in them. Elvis has left the building.
We are left to grieve. To wonder Why? To blame ourselves and each other. To be angry at the doctors for giving us so many promises and false hope. To laugh at our younger, contraceptively-minded, selves. To hold our son tight and tell him sorry, so sorry, oh how sorry we are that we can't give him a brother or sister.
Since I last wrote about our longing for "Number Two" we did indeed decide to give the fertility clinics a shot. We naively thought our odds were good, given how awesome our kid is and how compatible our gametes clearly are. A few false starts later and we finally got down to the IVF business a few weeks ago. From our first follicle monitoring scan I knew we were in trouble. The numbers did not bode well: two, possibly three, developing follicles in the right ovary and none visible in the left. Ok, perhaps they are just slow to develop? No, by the time the consultant decided to do the collection we were still talking about a maximum of three follicles.
As I learnt to my bitter disappointment today, follicles don't always mean eggs. They couldn't find a single one, and they aspirated every last inch of my two ovaries.
I don't want to put anyone off having IVF treatment. The clinic could have handled things better, but I am glad we gave it one last shot, and at least I can lay it all to rest and accept that another biological child is not in our future.
We are going to take our time to regroup, to recover. And then we will pick ourselves up and count our blessings and look to the future. Who knows? That future may even involve a child already born, who could be looking for an adoptive family in years to come.