I want to talk about what infertility and this journey has done to my marriage. Now, don’t let the title fool you as my husband isn’t about to actually dance the Tango but the title made me smile so there you have it.
I can honestly say that I feel truly blessed with my husband, best friend, lover and forever partner. I know that not all marriages survive fertility and Kevin and I have been very lucky that this hike we have been on has made us stronger. We haven’t gone unscathed and it has been work to survive everything we have been through but we are still here and we haven’t left the dance yet.
When we went through our first miscarriage it came as a complete shock to both of us. We both cried, we held each other and as everyone told us it was completely normal to lose your first pregnancy we didn’t lose faith in having a baby. I remember actually feeling lucky at the time to have suffered a early miscarriage. I have a couple of very dear friends who each have suffered through a still birth and I can’t fathom surviving that and going on as they have.
After our second miscarriage I remember the fear starting to creep in. Not just the fear of will we be able to have a baby and is this my fault but will my husband leave me if we can’t. I remember telling my mom this later after probably our 3rd miscarriage. She was angry with me and couldn’t believe I would ever think something like this. Honestly, I didn’t have any reason to really think this other than so many movies that depict the man leaving the barren woman for someone who could give him the offspring he so desired. My fear also came from knowing that my husband had wanted a child long before I was ready. Insert guilt for why did I make him wait so long and maybe if we had tried when we were younger we would have a son or daughter running around the house right now. I wanted to wait until we were ready, more stable blah blah blah. I am a planner so it is hard not to overthink something as epic as bringing a new life into this world. I certainly wish others put a bit more thought into if before they did but that is for a whole other blog post of the future.
I don’t recall if it were our 3rd or 4th miscarriage but I remember Kevin telling me he wasn’t sure he could go through this much longer. At the time I wasn’t all too understanding as physically going through a miscarriage is no piece of cake and I was going through the mental aspects as well. Anyhow, after my own grief settled some more I did understand that this was hurting him terribly too. I later realized much of my reaction to him saying this and other things of a similar nature was a defensive reaction. I still feel this way a bit. I think if he were to come in today and say “I don’t want to try any more” and just want to be done with it then I would feel he was giving up on me just as much as giving up on having a child. Now, this decision might happen eventually anyway but I hope it happens out of us discussing it and deciding together.
Anyhow, back to the whole marriage aspect. Kevin hasn’t left me for some spry young woman to make babies with. In fact, going through this together has made us much stronger as a couple. I honestly believe if you can’t survive infertility than you probably wouldn’t survive raising children together either. I think the latter has to be a much more difficult task. Now, has our spontaneity and intimacy suffered, Absolutely! For us this has suffered in two ways. At first it was all of the counting days, ovulation tests, scheduling “tater time” that hurt our spontaneity. The Intimacy I think suffered more when it became frightening to get pregnant by accident. It is an odd thing to be terrified of getting pregnant when you aren’t a teenager and it is just the simple fact that you don’t want to go through another loss.
While we still need to recover our intimacy and spontaneity there are some things that I think we have done well that might help someone else going through this now. I don’t claim to be an expert, these are just observations of what has worked to keep Kevin and I strong.
1.) Be there for each other. There is no room for blame if you want your marriage to stay strong. Chances are your partner may already blame themselves so they don’t need that from their spouse. Listen to one another and find out what you can do to support your partner during this time. Lift each other up and don’t stop doing things that you love together. Be respectful of your spouse’s feelings with wherever you are in your journey. They may need to take a step back or sometimes they might be ready to go full speed ahead and you want to cool the jets a bit. Talk about these things.
2.) If depression, desolation or desperation start to impact you or your spouse it may be time to get some help. This doesn’t have to be “professional” help. Talk to a friend who is or has gone through infertility. Seek out a blog that “speaks” to you. Check out some of the many online resources out there. Join a Facebook group. Anything. Infertility can be such a crushing blow to us it is important not to let it get the better of you.
3.) Talk about the “What ifs”. I know, I know. Taboo, run away don’t listen to her. But, I think it is healthy to discuss what your life might look like without children. Or, perhaps discussing if either of you wants to foster or adopt. This is something we didn’t do until a bit later in our process and we still have new discussions the further we go on this journey. I’ve known some people who have even made dramatic plans for the end of their baby making journey. I heard one woman say that when she turned 45, if they hadn’t been successful they were going to sell all of their stuff and move to Europe and travel.
4.) Take care of yourself. Whatever this means. Get a massage. Start a new hobby. Pick up an old hobby. Volunteer somewhere. Go back to school. Plan a dream vacation (alone or with your spouse or maybe with a great friend). Start doing meditation (this is one of the things I have been doing lately). Exercise. Eat well and if some idiot tells you “if you stop thinking about it, you’ll get pregnant” then eat the piece of chocolate or drink the glass of wine. 😉 We have to take care of ourselves so we can be there for our spouse and help take care of them. I think we all seem to cycle through one of us being down so it helps to have those “up” times so you can pick them up off the floor or vice versa.
5.) You do not have to listen to the village idiot, or your friend who just got pregnant, or your family, or a coworker who is being nosy. If you have been going through infertility long and you have shared it with anyone you will know that advice and mostly unsolicited advice comes often and from just about everyone. So, I repeat “you do not have to listen”. Now, you may want to punch them in the throat, don’t do that either. But, you can kindly smile and say thank you or tell them you aren’t in a space to talk about it or whatever you want. But, it is your infertility, your journey, your struggle. You don’t have to listen to me either but I assume if you are reading this that you came to my blog and it didn’t just pop up to give you advice.
Wow, I am so sorry that was such a long winded one. Hugs to you and thank you again for reading this. If you ever want to contact me you can do so here and I have been doing my best to reply to all comments (pretty easy now as there aren’t that many but I am trying to think positive to there being so many I can’t possibly keep up).