Blessed and cursed, doting parents, but unable to have another child. This was the stark reality for Manon and Chris.
To conceive a second child, the couple spent £14,000 on fertility treatment.
“Secondary infertility is when you’ve had a natural pregnancy and are unable to conceive a second,” Manon explained.
According to the British Fertility Society, the condition affects about 5% of the UK population.
And Manon, 33, of Bala, Gwynedd, believes that more help is needed for parents like them.
“It’s really difficult to deal with and frustrating,” she said.
“Guilt also enters the picture when you already have a child, because you feel guilty that you can’t provide them with a sibling.”
The couple has been trying to conceive for seven years, going through miscarriages and IVF.
“You’re paying so much for it, you’re sure it’ll work,” Manon explained.
“IVF is not an easy path to take. I hadn’t done my homework, as I should have, so I had no idea what was in store for us.”
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“There’s a stigma around secondary infertility,” she said.
“People are afraid to talk about it because they are afraid of being judged.”
Chris stated: “I’m a shy person who finds it difficult to talk about anything, let alone something as personal as infertility.
“I feel obligated to be strong for her because she had struggled with her mental health following the first round of IVF.
“It was difficult. Seeing your wife go through IVF and the effects of the medication on her body.”
Mental health struggles
Manon stated that after the first round of IVF, she went into a “quite dark place.”
“Secondary infertility has a negative impact on your mental health, physical health, and emotional health,” she explained.
“I struggled with depression and anxiety, and I’m just grateful to have the most incredible husband, family, and friends who were there for us every step of the way.”
Manon was better prepared when she started her second round of IVF treatment last year.
She had found help, particularly from online communities eager to discuss secondary fertility and share their own experiences.
“I found great comfort in Facebook and Instagram community groups and pages,” she said.
“Secondary infertility groups where I could be myself, be open and honest with them, and tell them exactly how I felt while experiencing secondary infertility.”
‘Help with costs’
The couple believes that those in similar situations should be given more assistance.
“I find it absurd that couples suffering from secondary infertility must pay £7,000 for one round of IVF,” Manon said.
“Why can’t they offer a second round for half the price if the first round fails?”
“Because not everyone in a financially secure position has IVF as an option, those couples are completely ruled out.”
The Welsh government’s specialised health services developed the criteria for infertility and IVF treatment.
NHS treatment is only available to couples who do not have biological or adopted children.
According to a spokesman, the issue of secondary infertility has not been raised in the Senedd in recent years.
However, after two failed IVF cycles, Manon and Chris have decided not to pursue a third attempt.
They have considered adoption, but for the time being, they are content to enjoy life as a family of three.
“We’ve come to terms with the fact that we’ll only have one child, and we’re fine with that,” Manon added.
“Because, to be honest, we couldn’t have asked for a more special child than Efa; she is a special little girl who makes us proud every day.”