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Has Infertility Changed You?

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

For better or worse, I feel like a changed woman since going through secondary infertility, and all the ups and downs we’ve been through over the last year or so. Not that I didn’t think this before, but dealing with this has made me very aware of how lucky I am to have my son, and how lucky we were to have conceived him so easily. I got pregnant three months after we got married, and had a very easy pregnancy. He’s a healthy, happy, smart, social, sweet-natured kid. There isn’t a thing I’m exaggerating about here—he is a very special boy. And by far my biggest accomplishment—everything else pales in comparison.

My husband spent the last four days in the Bahamas for our cousin’s bachelor party, so I got to spend the whole weekend with Preston, alone. We spent some quality time with friends and family and had a great weekend, just the two of us.

I love this time I get to spend with him and only him. My desire for another child is still there, and I hope it happens for us, but for Preston’s sake I think this individual time he gets with us is important. Had infertility not gotten in our way of having another child, life would be very different for all of us. Not bad of course, just different. Like I always say, I truly believe everything happens for a reason.

There’s no question I feel like a different person for having been through all of this—any kind of hardship is likely to change you, and test your character a little. Just a handful of reasons how it’s changed me:

  • First and foremost, I barely drink anymore, ever since I got sick last year on all the fertility meds. I’m a former nightlife columnist, who went to bars for a living for almost a decade, and I don’t drink—how ironic is that? I used to pop open a bottle of wine every night, even after Preston was born—I called it my “mommy juice”—but now? The only time I have even a sip or two is at dinner with friends and family. My tolerance for alcohol is way down, so one glass of wine is enough to give me a hangover. It’s just not worth it to me anymore.
  • Speaking of worth it? It’s amazing what you’re willing to put yourself through for your family. There isn’t a thing I wouldn’t do—or sacrifice—for the sake of my husband and son. When you’re putting yourself through fertility treatments—whether it’s taking Clomid or more aggressive injections for an IUI or IVF procedure—you realize how strong and resilient you are. It’s nothing I would’ve ever wished for, but I do feel like a stronger woman for having endured all of this, and what I’m willing to keep enduring, for my family.
  • I was a big softie before, but if it’s possible I’m an even bigger softie now. News of anyone I know—even a mere acquaintance—going through any kind of hardship, hits me pretty hard. Especially when it comes to someone’s health, family, marriage or children.
  • When I find out someone is pregnant—especially someone around my age, who’s had any trouble getting pregnant—I take it personally too, and am over-joyed, even if it has absolutely no impact on my life. It’s hard not to relate to someone going through infertility, or someone my age having children period—even Tori Spelling, who’s 39 and pregnant with her fourth child (and looks AMAZING). I don’t know her obviously, and she seems like the most fertile woman in the world (she got pregnant when her third baby was only a month old), but I applaud her! 
  • On the flipside, when I hear about a miscarriage...forget it. When I found out Bethenny Frankel had miscarried with her second earlier this year, I was devastated. You can't help but put yourself in her shoes. Hearing this kind of awful news about someone I do know? I take it hard. Miscarriage is probably my biggest fear; sometimes I feel like I'm tempting fate. I never thought about it before, but at my age and with what I'm going through—it's hard not to think about it, especially when you know many women who've miscarried.
  • I find the relationship between siblings very special—lately Preston has seemed to notice it too. I don’t know if I had this deep of an appreciation for it before—but I certainly have it now. While Preston hasn’t gotten to the age of asking me why he doesn’t have a brother or sister, I know it’s only a matter of time. Like I said last week, I see him watching siblings interact at the park, and he’s beaming—sometimes it makes me a little sad.
  • Making the extra time and effort to get together with friends and their kids is very important to me now. Not that it wasn’t before, but it’s hard to find the time with my work schedule. Nights and weekends are all I have with Preston, and I’m careful about how we spend it. Preston has developed genuine friendships with my friends’ kids, and it means the world to me—I hope those friendships will last forever, whether or not we have another child, but especially if we don’t. I’m grateful my friends have kids around the same age.
  • When you’re not sure if you’ll have the opportunity to have another child, you really appreciate every single minute. Preston may be my only baby, so I cherish all the little moments, and I capture them all in photos. My Canon SLR is literally attached to my hip, which won’t surprise anyone who’s friends with me on Facebook. I’m relentless with posting pics—I can’t help myself! These are moments you never get back.

Is there anything you do (feel or think) differently as a result of going through infertility? How has it impacted you?

Follow me @spgorenstein. Friend me on Facebook. Email me. Read my entry for the3six5 project.

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