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Has Infertility Hurt, or Helped, Your Marriage?

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

My husband and I have been through a lot in the short time we’ve been married (it’ll be four years in September). We had a whirlwind courtship (8 months); an even shorter engagement (6 months); he opened a new business, we bought a new house and got newly pregnant three months after tying the knot (all within the same week). And then we got a puppy four months into our marriage (insane I know); the baby came one month before our first anniversary.

We must be masochists, right? But that's not all.

One of the biggest challenges came just two weeks after our engagement when I tore my ACL and meniscus, and had to have total reconstructive knee surgery. I moved in with my parents for a month so my mom could take care of me around the clock. I spent the majority of our six-month engagement, which should’ve been the happiest time in my life, in a lot of pain and in hardcore rehab for my knee so that I could get in shape in time to dance the hora at my own wedding.

Some people say you don’t really know a person until you’ve traveled together. That might be true. I say you don’t really know a person until you’ve been through a hardship together. My knee surgery was pretty major…it was a leftover injury from high school so it was rather torn up by the time I had it fixed. The recovery was rough to say the least, and though I was staying at my parents’ house my husband was by my side nearly every day to help take care of me, while trying to open the aforementioned restaurant.

It was a good indication of the kind of husband and father he’d turn out to be. When I had my C-section he didn’t leave my side at the hospital either. I tried to force him to go home to get a good night’s sleep (those hospital beds aren’t exactly comfortable). But Jay wasn’t leaving me or the baby. He is one of those people that’s very good in a crisis (far better than I am). He’s the kind of guy you want by your side when you’re going through something difficult.

He’s been my rock through our infertility ordeal. We are very different when it comes to dealing with stressful situations. Bottom line: I stress; he doesn't. I make a big deal out of big-deal situations; he manages to take the issue, whatever it is, day by day. There’s a lot to get stressed out about when it comes to all the fertility treatments, shots, drugs, doctor appointments, negative test results, etc., and he not only handles the emotional side of it better than I do, he keeps me from going totally off the rails.

It’s very easy to feel like a failure when you’ve been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for as long as we have, but he’s never once put any kind of pressure on me. I know he’s felt the disappointment too, but he’s never allowed it to get the best of him. That's not how he rolls.

And he’s certainly never pressured me to continue on with the treatments, but always lets me know that he’s there to support me in whatever I decide to do. He realizes this ultimately comes down to me and what my body can handle; but he makes sure I know that he’s in for the ride, no matter where it's going.

Sometimes I wish he’d tell me what to do—but he probably knows, as well as I do, that I wouldn’t take to that very well. He defers to me on the big decisions about these treatments because A) I’m more well-versed on the fertility process than he is, and B) I’m the one who gets the brunt of it.

That said, I know he wants another baby every bit as much as I do. He’s one of those men who comes by parenting naturally; before we were together his married friends used to call him “the manny” because he was their go-to guy for babysitting. True story.

Going through infertility has probably strengthened our relationship; it’s built a higher level of trust between us. It’s made our unit as a team stronger, since we’re both working so hard toward something we both desperately want. I think that’s the key thing here: It’s something we both want equally. While inevitably the woman does most of the physical work (I’m the one going to the doctor every week; I’m the one taking the shots), I’ve never felt that I’m in this fight alone.

Especially when I got sick last year; Jay just handled everything and never once complained about it. My husband's having back surgery tomorrow (Tuesday) and I hope I can be half as strong for him as he's been for me.

Has going through infertility strengthened, or weakened, your marriage? I can see how it can go either way... It can either drive a wedge between you, or make your bond stronger. The whole process is a total mindf***, it really puts your relationship to the ultimate test.

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