Welcome to my first post for CooperGenomics! I am glad to be able to share my experience of surviving infertility with others, in the hopes that it provides information and inspiration for getting through this difficult period and coming out the other side. Once you do, if you have a child, I believe there is a whole different aspect to parenting after infertility. I started my blog FoggyMommy to share my motherhood journey of how infertility and pregnancy loss still affect me today.
I spent six years trying to have a baby. During that time I went through seven IVFs and had five miscarriages. My diagnoses were pretty much everything you could think of, from endometriosis and diminished ovarian reserve to blood clotting disorders. But even though I’m now a “success story,” I still feel that I’m just a little bit different from other parents.
When I was pregnant, I could never truly relax. Because I had a second trimester miscarriage at 17 weeks, I knew the unlikely could happen at any point in pregnancy — I was never truly “safe.” In the support group I went to after that loss, there were even women who had lost full-term babies. But even those women talked as if they were sure they would have another baby. They would start sentences with, “When I get pregnant again…” For me, it was, “If I get pregnant again.” And it was a big “if.”
I had it bad from both sides: I couldn’t get pregnant, and I couldn’t stay pregnant. So even when it seemed like my pregnancy would last, I didn’t feel comfortable talking about “when the baby is born” – everything remained “if.” I couldn’t enjoy being pregnant. I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop.
The other shoe didn’t drop, though, and my baby was born healthy. But my postpartum period was not the blissful time I thought it would be, because my son, Sam, was sent to the NICU for low blood sugar. He was there for four days, and even after he came home, a rocky breastfeeding relationship exacerbated my baby blues.
Although I was never diagnosed with postpartum depression, I continued to feel anxiety about this tiny, helpless creature who was suddenly in my charge to keep alive. It wasn’t really a conscious thought – I didn’t have the time or the energy to ruminate about it – but in the back of my mind the feeling was always there that something bad could happen to him. I was scared.
A social worker from the hospital called and urged me to attend a new moms’ support group. Hesitant at first – how would I even get it together enough to leave the house? – I made it, and found that having an opportunity to pour out my worries and stresses helped immeasurably. I met other women who became good friends. My support system expanded.
But as my son grew, the realization that life is precious and uncertain remained. Even now, because I am a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom, Sam’s care falls to me the majority of the time — and I feel the weight of my responsibility heavily. I arm myself with information about car seat safety, choking hazards, and other things I feel I need to know to keep him safe. Most of the time that empowers me; but other times it fuels my stress.
It doesn’t help that Sam is a daredevil. Now about to turn two, he asserts his independence at every turn, climbing on furniture and running away from me with a devil-may-care grin on his face. I try to take it day-by-day, to do the best I can to protect him and keep him from getting hurt. I block stories about freak accidents or terrible tragedies involving kids from my Facebook newsfeed because I know they are triggers for me. I try to recognize when my imagination is spiraling and conjuring images of bad things that haven’t happened yet. I use my writing as an outlet to express and expunge my worries. I curb my anxiety by realizing that I am doing everything I can, and that’s all I can do.
On the other hand, my past experiences have made me so cognizant of the gifts that my son has given me and the love that he has brought into my life. No matter what occurred before, I am so grateful I was able to embark on this new journey of being his mom. He is truly my miracle and I will never take that for granted.