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Why It's Important We Talk About Infertility

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

So now that the cat’s out of the proverbial bag and I’ve revealed to the world that I’ve been going through IVF, I’ve had a little bit of blogger’s remorse I admit. But being a blogger means there’s a very thin line between your personal life and … well … your blog. After last week’s post went up, I experienced the requisite after-shock, but then I got a handful of sincere emails from friends and acquaintances, people who’ve taken the time to share their own fertility struggles with me, to reassure me that I’m not alone, that it’s all worth it in the end, and that I have people to turn to when the going gets tough. And that was all I needed to hear…

I haven’t been totally silent about this—there are a few good friends and family members I’ve talked to throughout this process. But just a small few. It’s not the kind of news you call everyone with: “Hey there! So, Jay’s been giving me shots every night, and I feel like a big, bloated pin cushion. How are you?”

When you’re trying to get pregnant, and especially when you’re going through IVF, there isn’t much else you have to talk about. It consumes you. And those people who say, “If you stop stressing about it so much, you’ll get pregnant,” simply haven’t been in your shoes. (That’s one of the things you shouldn’t say to someone who’s going through IVF, by the way.)

But it’s also been nearly impossible to keep this totally to ourselves. Especially since I’ve been noticeably absent from my life for the last couple of months. There have been missed lunch dates, missed birthday parties, missed family gatherings, so much missed time with Preston, not to mention a lot of missed work, due to how sick I got after my egg retrieval. So sick that my parents had to rush home from a vacation to take care of me last month, because I couldn’t be around Preston and poor Jay had his hands full with two whining babies in the house (me being one of them).

I was so sick that I made the tough decision not to do the embryo transfer right away, because if I did do it and were to get pregnant I was looking at another nine weeks of the same horrible symptoms—and there was no way I could do that, and keep my job and my family in tact. I’m not totally out of the weeds yet—the symptoms from hyper-stimulation are gone, thankfully, but I am still in the middle of this, and have good days and bad days. Even on the good days I don’t feel 100 percent. But since I can’t remember what 100 percent even feels like at this point, what's the difference anyway! 

Maybe it’s because of my age but I happen to know a lot of women who’ve also gone through at least one round of IVF (at least), and if it weren’t for those women I’m not sure how I’d be handling all of this. I have a truly amazing network of friends who’ve opened up to me. I know women who’d been struggling to get pregnant for a lot longer than I have, with tangible fertility problems, who remained optimistic and strong all along the way and have beautiful children now, or are on their way to having them. And that is honestly what has helped get me through my darkest, sickest days.

It’s because of the women who are willing to talk about their own fertility struggles that I’ve been able to cope with mine, which is why I love Redbook magazine’s campaign this month, “The Truth About Trying.” Check out the videos from celebrities who've struggled with infertility as well as regular women like us, they’re pretty profound.

My feeling about "secondary infertility" (a term I never knew existed before): This is life after 35 when you’re trying to build a family. I waited to start having kids till I was older, and this is the price I’m paying. To be perfectly honest, when I first started seeing a fertility doctor in May (or was it April, I’m not even sure anymore), I was depressed about it. Very depressed. I couldn’t talk about it without breaking down into tears (even with my fertility doctor—so embarrassing). But now? I’m blogging about it. I know I’m going to have another baby, it’s just not going to be exactly as I’d planned.

I feel absolutely no shame about having to seek help for these unexplained infertility issues I’m having—in fact, if I’m being honest, I feel a little empowered by it. I’ve been through hell the last six months, but there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do to have another child. And we are extremely fortunate that, despite me getting sick, the outcome from our egg retrieval was better than anyone could’ve expected—and we have 14 “beautiful” embryos now. (Not that I plan on using all of them; trust me, I have no desire to change my Twitter handle to theoctomom.)

But I feel very lucky indeed.  

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