Photo courtesy of Monica Caron

Secondary infertility was not part of the story Monica Caron had envisioned, it wasn’t even something she knew about prior to her diagnosis in 2018. She has since made it her mission to bring women together to talk openly, honestly, and sometimes painfully about infertility.

Monica’s openness and vulnerability have allowed her and others to build a community through content creation, jokes and of course, Instagram

When did you first discover that secondary infertility was going to be part of your TTC journey?
My husband and I conceived our first child in October of 2014 without any issues. It took us about five months to get pregnant – which at the time seemed like forever. Now I laugh at that! 

Photo courtesy of Monica Caron

We started trying again for another baby in 2017. We had been trying to conceive for about a year and were told by our doctors that because we conceived naturally we really didn’t have much to worry about. In July of 2018 my OB said if I wasn’t pregnant by December that I should look to make an appointment in 2019 with a fertility specialist. Instead I proactively booked an appointment for December 2018 and went through the months long process of figuring out what was going on. It took about three months to find out I had a closed tube on my left side. This took as long as it did to diagnose due to the procedures centering around your period cycle. We also found out that my husband had motility issues. These issues were cleared up with a vitamin supplement and cutting back on caffeine and alcohol. 

We were able to do our first IUI in May of 2019. While being closely monitored we also found out that my right ovary is lazy – meaning she doesn’t produce an egg as often as my left side. So my open tube has a lazy ovary and my closed tube is the heavy producer. We did two more IUIs, one ending in early miscarriage, before we moved forward with the IVF process in October of 2019.

Why have you decided to open up about your journey on such a public platform?
I didn’t know anything about infertility before I started having issues. I had no idea that secondary infertility was even a thing. We conceived my daughter so easily, so it never occurred to me that something could be wrong.  When I discovered there was an issue I didn’t want to be silent. I knew there were so many women out there experiencing infertility and instead of hiding in the shadows I wanted to be a part of the conversation to help bring women together. Infertility can feel incredibly lonely. You’re dealing with enough emotions as it is and loneliness shouldn’t be piled on. I wanted to be a voice that showed the realness behind what this is, and also demystify the process. Again, when I started this journey I knew nothing and jumping in was so overwhelming. There’s so much information that hits you at one time. It’s important to have a community to support you that can help guide you. Your doctors and nurses are there for you – but when it’s 10pm at night and you’re panicking that you did a shot wrong or that you’re never going to be able to make it to the next step it’s so nice to have people to reach out to that understand those feelings.

This is really hard and it’s OK to not be OK. It’s helpful for other women to know they are not alone in these feelings and I wish someone told me that in the beginning.

Has your daughter been curious about this process? If so, how have you guys spoken about it with her?
She has been curious. We haven’t told her we are trying to have another baby yet because if this doesn’t work it will be impossible for her as a five year old to understand what it all means. Instead we told her that mommy’s body needs some help doing things it should be able to do on its own, so mommy takes shots to help. We involved her with the shots and patch applications so she can be a part of the process.

What is something you wish you knew earlier?
How long everything takes. Before I started I thought IVF was a couple of stomach and butt shots and then you get twins. I had no idea the amount of time that goes into the entire process- whether it’s IUI, IVF or something else. You’re dealing with your body’s cycle, and it takes time to diagnose and be in the right moment in time to start any of these processes. 

I would want myself to know that it’s going to be a long road, and it’s OK to feel frustrated, sad, annoyed and everything in between. That showing the vulnerability behind this is actually showing strength. This is really hard and it’s OK to not be OK. It’s helpful for other women to know they are not alone in these feelings and I wish someone told me that in the beginning.

What was the least helpful thing someone said to you?
“At least you already have a kid. Be thankful for that.” 

I am thankful I have my daughter. But I’m also desperate for another child. I had a vision of my family – I wanted three children. So not being able to build that easily is really hard.

Photo courtesy of Monica Caron

What has surprised you about yourself and your partner?
I didn’t know the strength I really had inside of myself. I have had so many failures throughout this process and I didn’t know the strength I had to just keep getting back up – over and over again. My husband’s strength has surprised me as well. He has picked me up off of the floor – and he’s held it together so many times that I know he also wants to break. But there’s also a negative side to this. Infertility is incredibly hard on marriage. The emotions run high all of the time. You’re doped up on drugs. You experience failures. The one thing you wanted to do together – create or expand your family – is out of reach. And it’s heartbreaking at times. 

What has been the hardest part of your journey?
The emotional toll. These drugs take so much out of you. And when you experience a loss or a failure and you’re on additional hormones something that is so incredibly sensitive to begin with is heightened. It’s just totally all-consuming and exhausting. 

Any final thoughts for others on this journey?
Know that you are not alone. There are millions of people experiencing what you are going through. You are not the only one. At times it feels so lonely and isolating. At times it feels like you’re a failure and everyone else around you is having babies. But just know that there is a wonderful community out there. It’s weird to find the community on social media – I get that. But these women and men I have met through Instagram and through blogs I have written for – they mean so much to me and are a huge part of my support system that gets me through this wild ride.