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Resiliency, Taught By My Two-Year-Old

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

Throughout this entire infertility ordeal—Clomid, IUI, IVF, and not one but two canceled embryo transfers—I realized something: Preston is a lot more resilient than I am. As I’ve mentioned many times, if there was an ugly side effect of the medications I was taking, you can bet I suffered from it. Migraines—oh, the horrific migraines—the nausea, feeling like a bloated pin cushion for months, and all the emotional ups and downs, which take their own physical toll. I’m not going to say secondary infertility is harder than primary infertility, because fortunately I didn’t experience primary infertility, but boy—going through secondary infertility is damn hard with a two-year-old.

Obviously I’m incredibly grateful for this two-year-old—he's my angel; my pillar of strength—and very thankful that I was able to get pregnant so easily with Preston, and if I had to choose between primary or secondary infertility I would choose the latter. My heart goes out to women who are struggling to conceive at all; I can’t imagine life without my goofball, even though having a child presents its own set of challenges while going through infertility. Life before baby is, simply, a different life than after baby—you don’t have the luxury of time to go through something difficult without it impacting everyone in your family. That’s an added hurdle when you’re going through any kind of illness or injury when you're a parent: how it affects your kid(s).

Ya know, I’m used to these feelings of guilt—any full-time working mom, especially one who works outside of the home, will confess to the mom guilt. But couple that with the guilt of being sick, spending a ridiculous amount of time in bed, spending days at a time away from Preston while I was recovering from hyperstim…I’ve been fraught with guilt for months, on top of my other working-mom guilt. Guilt on top of guilt—it's silly how much we beat ourselves up as mothers. On the one hand, I’m doing this for him and for us, to provide a sibling for Preston and another child for us—I’m not some baby-crazed person who just wants babies for the sake of having them. On the other hand, is what I’m doing entirely fair to any of us?

In the grand scheme of things, I believe this will be a little blip in our lives, this unfortunate period of infertility, and not something we’ll be dwelling on forever—whatever happens, happens. But I can’t even recount the number of times I’ve been out of commission these last 10 months, or however long it's been, whether for emotional reasons, or physical ones, to let myself heal and deal. While Jay and Preston went to breakfasts, lunches, dinners, play dates, father-son dates, friends and family dates (on his side and mine) without me—Mommy stayed back in bed, at home, alone, feeling guilty most of the time.

I’m not telling you this to get hammered in the comments by those of you who have never gone through infertility, who couldn’t possibly understand why someone like me, with a child, would put themselves through this to have another child. I certainly did not go into this whole thing knowing how hard it would be on me, and I certainly didn’t know how hard it would be on us. But I am not one to give up on something I want, especially not this, with a diagnosis like “unexplained infertility," and a hopeful/positive outlook from my doctors. 

At first, of course, Preston didn’t understand why Mommy was always in bed (when I wasn't at work, that is). I mean, really, how do you explain this to an almost two-year-old? Um, you don’t. Eventually, though, and thanks to my husband being such an amazing father, Preston did start to understand that Mommy wasn't feeling well. There were definitely times he showed his frustration over me not being up for doing things—like things that required me getting out of bed—but there was a turning point when Preston just came to accept it. He'd ask me to play with him, or run around the house with him while he chased me (we do this a lot), and I simply wasn't up for it. He eventually stopped getting upset, in large part because my husband kept him distracted and busy—and while that should've lifted some of the guilt off me, because he didn't seem that phased anymore, it actually made me feel sadder. I don't want my baby used to me this way. 

He would say things like: “Mommy sick. Mommy, you go to bed. Daddy and I go bye-bye.”

Ultimately it was his resiliency that gave me the strength to want to continue trying…trying whatever I could to feel better…trying to have another baby…trying not to let this process get in the way of the beautiful life I already have right in front of me. It helped me see through the fog, even when I didn't feel like getting out of bed. He's such a happy kid. That smile will always lift me out of a slump.

How have your kids, and/or your partner, been dealing with your infertility ordeal? Do you ever feel guilty for putting everyone through it, even if it's something you all want?

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