Infer-til-i-ty — noun. inability to conceive children
Infertility brings the loneliest feelings. It’s one of those things that can’t be explained. You don’t realize the mental toll it takes until you’ve gone through it.
It’s normal to feel like you’re walking this path alone, even when you have your husband by your side. As the one supplying the womb in this baby-making adventure, I’m the only one who can go through the fertility treatments. It’s so easy to forget that our spouses are going through this with us. Our spouses are typically fully emotionally vested in our journey, but it isn’t always easy for them to verbalize those emotions. Truthfully, their emotional and mental health matters just as much as ours.
I wish I had asked my husband these questions the first time we went through infertility, because WOW. This awkward little interview gave me so much insight into how he has been feeling through this journey.
I have been permitted to share his answers here, in hopes that it may help other couples open up and talk to each other while going through infertility. We know how much it affects every aspect of your life, but it can really wreak havoc on a marriage if communication isn’t made a priority.
Let’s dive right in!
001. Do you prefer when I try to get you to open up and talk about your feelings, or wait until you bring it up?
I think a mixture of both would be what I prefer. There are times where I feel like bringing it up to you may dampen your spirits due to another recent negative result, and as your husband, I never want to see you in pain or saddened by anything. But there are also times where it’s been something I’ve been thinking of non-stop and I know you will have just the answer or verse to get me past the un-positive (I don’t like “negative” any longer) thoughts. I also enjoy when you bring it up naturally because it gives me a genuine chance to share my feeling on that certain subject. The biggest fear I have is not supporting you enough in conversation when you do bring it up in front of me.
002. How do you feel when I go through treatments, doctor appointments, medications?
Hopeful, Nervous, Anxious, Scared, Confused pretty much sum up all of my emotions during those times. I hate to see you in pain and unfortunately, that’s what you have had to endure your entire adult life. I want to do all the things that give us a better than not chance of succeeding (my definition of this word has changed through this). Unfortunately, as a husband, I don’t have to go through any physical pain as you do with endo, medications, physicals, sonograms, awkward doctor visits. The reason I say “Unfortunately” is because through all of this I have truly learned I would do anything for you. Without a doubt, I would take all the pain and suffering off of you and put it on me if I could. (Insight into my constant requests and prayers with the big man upstairs)
003. I know I often feel like a failure of a wife because of this, does our infertility make you feel like a failure as a husband?
Honestly, sometimes. I hate the feeling of letting you down no matter what the occasion, and with this, I can’t help but feel like I did something wrong. I should have asked the doctor another question, I should have had a better diet, I should have worked out more, I should have fixed something…… I struggle with this feeling because I see how blessed I am, but I also know that you deserve everything this world has to offer, and so far, I haven’t been able to “give” you this.
004. How do you stay so positive?
I don’t feel like I do a good enough job of staying positive for you and Tripp. But in all honesty when I truly look at everything surround us; I can’t help but be positive. We have created a great life and surrounded ourselves with great people. I am married to an amazing woman that I will never truly deserve. My son is one of the kindest people I know and he’s only 3. There’s a group of strong Christian men that I know I could reach out to that want to keep my spirits high and know about our battle (although I don’t call them as much as I should). A big thing that actually hurts my positivity is when people make comments like “at least you have Tripp”. While that is an accurate statement it is unfair to drop on anyone whether they have 1,2,3 or 4 kids and still trying to bring another life into this world. Tripp is an absolute miracle and one we are very thankful for, but I honestly believe God’s not afraid to answer more than one miracle.
005. What has been the hardest part of our infertility journey for you?
Feeling helpless. I can’t take away the endometriosis pains, I can’t take away the cancer scare, I can’t take away the week (often much longer) of heartache after another negative result month, I can’t take away the painful visits to the doctor, I can’t take away the reactions to new medications……….. I am a “fixer” and I know it; I see a problem and I instantly want to come up with a solution. This is the ultimate area of trust and I have to remind myself of that daily.
006. Do you feel a personal responsibility to stay strong for your wife?
10000000%. If I can’t personally take this pain away from you then I have to be the one who acts like it’s “fine” and that it’s just not time. I’ve learned after too many stressful weeks of work that my overall mood and mindset can be contagious.
007. How can I support you while we fight this battle as a couple?
I don’t feel like you should have to. I believe that I should be the one supporting you 100% because you are the one having to endure so much of the physical burden. You are already an amazing wife; I couldn’t imagine there be anything else you could do. (Not sucking up I assure you)
008. How do you feel when your family or friends announce their pregnancy?
Sometimes annoyed but mostly happy. I know how much of a battle it is to bring life into this world, so I want to celebrate anytime someone is successful. I may not always agree with people that intentionally get pregnant for what I view are the wrong reasons. But I remind myself it’s not my place to align those reasons with what’s right or wrong.
009. What’s your least favorite phrase people give us?
It’s going to be“fine”. “At least you have Tripp.” “Have you looked at adoption yet?” “As soon as you stop trying you will get pregnant.”
010. What have you been most afraid of throughout this process?
Fear hasn’t really crept in quite yet. I think there is naturally a fear that I am letting you down somehow in this process and that you will wise up and leave me for a better man at some point. Other than that, my fear before Tripp was that I wouldn’t be a good father. I’m not saying that I am a good father, but I think now I know what to expect when holding myself accountable as a parent.
011. Do you ever feel like throwing in the towel? If so, when do these feelings happen?
I tend to stay optimistic for the most part. I guess I look at what a miracle our firstborn is and think that it’s just not our time for a second quite yet.
012. As a husband, do you have any advice for couples going through infertility for the first time?
Don’t listen to the world around you. There will naturally be people, whether you realize it or not, that can get pregnant when the wind blows a certain way. There will also be people that take advantage of the ability to get pregnant and make very insensitive comments. Unload on your spouse whenever you are struggling with negative thoughts. I know it feels like you might be “bothering them” at an inopportune time but I can assure you anyone who is struggling in this will be willing to talk, no matter what hour of the night. ¨TRY” to keep your head up through all of this and reach out to those people in this world that have walked the same walk.