When you’re riding the infertility roller coaster, it can be tough on you both individually and as a couple. Unfortunately, I have known couples who have paid the ultimate price… a time that should have been one of their most intimate and exciting, culminating in potentially the most joyful day of their lives, has instead resulted in the breakdown of their marriage.
Infertility can certainly place additional stresses and pressures on a relationship, as can any life crisis. As the saying goes though, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger… at least, it can if you allow it to.
Try to focus on what you do have, rather than what you don’t
Is infertility unfair? Absolutely. So are many aspects of life. I say this not to play it down, but to place a bit of perspective. It can be incredibly easy to lament “why me/why us?” and to become consumed in this world of trying to conceive and wanting little to do with the outside world, particularly if there are celebrations/children involved. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt though, it’s that each and every one of us has our own unique journey, our own story: sometimes it’s feel good, sometimes it’s drama, sometimes comedy, sometimes horror… life is made up of seasons, ups and downs, but it’s how we ride those waves that counts, because we certainly can’t control them all (as much as we’d like to!). No, there’s nothing fair about infertility. There’s also nothing fair about cancer or other terminal illnesses. There’s nothing fair about lives lost too soon and the incredible heartbreak it leaves in those dearest to them. Again, I say this in no way to dismiss the pain of infertility because it is indeed a very real thing.
Keep on keeping on. Don’t just live life. Love it! We only get one. It certainly doesn’t always go to plan, but you also don’t want to look back at this period of your life and be filled with regret. What can you do in this time? Progress in your career, study further, take up a new hobby, travel the world or even your own backyard? No, you will never ‘forget’ about trying to have a baby, and believe me
I’m the first in line to punch anyone in the face who dares utter such a ridiculous concept, but there is still life to be lived.
Get to know each other even better. Go on adventures together and enjoy common interests, as well as some you enjoy doing on your own or with other friends. Enjoy date nights, go on weekends away together… have FUN!!!
Allow bitterness no place in your heart
Honestly, I know it’s so hard and such an emotional roller coaster, but becoming bitter never helped anyone. It only succeeds in making you feel worse, hardens your heart, and can even make you a little unlikeable. Or a lot.
I believe I was always able to genuinely express joy and excitement for those around me announcing pregnancies, having babies etc and I hope you can find it within yourself to do the same. Doing so doesn’t mean that you won’t still feel hurt. Sad. Even jealous. You are absolutely permitted to feel those things, to mourn what you don’t yet have, but what is life without hope? I for one certainly never wanted to lessen anyone else’s joy because of my grief. Infertility, along with many other injustices in life, you wouldn’t wish on anybody.
Don’t play the blame-game
The best advice I can possibly give to all couples, no matter where you are on this journey, is to always remember that you are a team. You are in this together. You each chose the other to embark on this journey called life with and as part of this journey, this is one of your chapters. Sure, you didn’t sign up for this, but we don’t willingly sign up for what a lot of life throws at us. Be the other’s number 1 fan. Always, always have each other’s back.
Time and time again, after learning we had been trying to conceive for a while, the number one question received from well-meaning friends, acquaintances and strangers was wanting to know where the issue lay, who’s ‘fault’ it was that there was not a baby in the making… well let me tell you, it’s no one else’s business! By all means share if you want to, but I would advise to choose carefully to whom and how much you divulge. My husband and I were always incredibly protective of each other and, in all honesty, to us it didn’t matter where the ‘issue’ lay. It takes two to tango and, for whatever reason, we as a couple couldn’t create a baby. The ‘why’ didn’t matter and to this day there is only a very, very small number of people who are privy to what our ‘issues’ were.
Many couples are ‘diagnosed’ with unexplained infertility, where the doctors genuinely don’t know or understand why the couple have had no luck as everything seems to be functioning as it should be.
For others, one or both parts of the whole will have ‘issues’ that could be contributing to the reason they’ve not yet conceived. If you fall into this ‘category’, can I please encourage you to form that protective unit against the world. Personally and privately, protect your hearts and, as per the previous point, don’t allow bitterness to gain a foothold. If one or both parties bodies are perhaps not functioning as well as they could be, there’s a good chance they’re already heaping enough guilt on themselves (which they shouldn’t be, but it’s what we do)… if anything, they need additional love and support, not blame.
Try to be on the same page
This journey is unique to the two of you. How it will unfold is yet unknown. When it comes to treatment possibilities there are a plethora of options. Sometimes one of you will research more than the other. One of you may become more consumed by it than the other. One may be more open-minded than the other when it comes to alternative or complementary therapies, or what to do and when.
There can be moral, ethical, religious and financial concerns surface.
Be open and honest with each other always. Don’t be afraid to share your emotions and don’t feel you always need to stay strong for the other. Be vulnerable. Be real. Grieve with each other, support and console each other, and also allow each other space when needed.
You might turn away from the world (I hope not), but don’t turn away from each other. Again, remember you are in this together.
Try to be on the same page as much as possible, clear in your plan and the way in which you are proceeding. Know your options and talk them through. If you just can’t see eye to eye on everything, then respect always. Seek professional guidance and assistance. You have come too far to not make the distance. Remember the goal, but also remember each other on the journey.
Confide in each other and be wise about whom else you confide in. Support networks are vital, to some more than others. Perhaps a mum or a best friend, especially someone who has gone before you along a similar journey, can be a great source of encouragement as well as providing a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. I would however say be wary of confiding too much to someone of the opposite sex, say a work colleague… this space is private and should be reserved for your partner. Well, that’s just my opinion. But the last thing you want to be doing is drawing closer to the wrong person.
Finally, whilst you’re waiting for those dear ones you’ll call your own, if you can find it within you then can I encourage you to be the very best aunt/uncle you can be to your siblings’ and friends’ kids. Volunteer with children even. Keep your heart soft and your spirit hopeful. May you find yourself on the other side of this journey sooner rather than later.
Before commenting please stop & think: is it kind, caring, positive & beneficial? Please remember that on the other side of this screen, be it the author or your fellow readers, that we are all humans with our own stories: needs, hopes, experiences, opinions &, most importantly, feelings. This is a respectful & safe place. I, the author, am not a medical professional. I offer simply my personal experiences & information gleaned in the sincere hope that it may be of use to another. This does not mean that I am ‘right’, whatever that means, but it did work for me. I reserve the right to remove any comments I deem unnecessary, inappropriate or negative. Thanks for being here. xx