When you are going through the trials and tribulations of the medically assisted pregnancy many of you will face challenges you never imagined. You may be questioned by friends and family. There will be days you want to express what you are going through but realize you know no one that understands your position. You may feel alone even in your own marriage because your husband or you choose to not discuss the fertility journey you are on. Maybe one of you thinks the other does not want to hear their personal fears. You are very likely wrong because as a man I was concerned and sometimes scared that I would not be a father but what concerned me most was how my wife was holding up. I wanted to be in touch with what the process was doing to her. Most of us men are dumb and do not know how to start the “How are you doing on this family endeavor we are challenged with” conversation. Men want to defend their loves but infertility is invisible and not even Superman can fight what he can’t see. As a wife or a girlfriend how many times have you asked your man “why didn’t you tell me?” or “what’s on your mind?” It is no different going through infertility. Communication is paramount for the infertile couple. This is not the time to be the tough guy man of few words because it may be tearing your wife apart not knowing what is going on in your mind. Men must not forget that women want to protect them too and it may give them relieve to know that their husband is scared for them or he has unanswered questions.
Men need to be involved in the process. They need to be the other set of ears at the doctor’s appointment. When my wife and I went through the process I was full of questions but sometimes I heard the things my wife did not hear and that was valuable because I could catch what she missed. She missed very little. One of the hardest things I did in the beginning of our process was to go to a gynecological visit at the fertility clinic. The doctor was a striking handsome man and my wife was in the standard medically accepted position but I quickly put my insecurities behind me once he began to talk and I began to understand what we were up against. If you are a man reading this blog then talk to your wife about both of your fears and thoughts. If you are a women reading this tell him if you need him to communicate more during this time. Tell him to read this blog. The challenges you face will be a little easier if you have a strong core of communication.
Let’s face it a man is probably not hanging out with his boys talking about his low sperm count but he may be able to have that talk with you. My opinion is that it is very important to have a voice during these times and know who will listen to that voice. Some of us men have few words but we love you women and we are capable of finding them when should.
I wrote earlier about the doubts you may have during the process and the challenges. When a friend tells you it’s “Gods will” every time a cycle fails not knowing how much that hurts and frustrates you need a to vent these emotions so they do not feed self doubt. When cycles are stopped before they even start or a cycle fails to produce a pregnancy you must find a way to understand the truth, “it is not your fault and you are not a failure”. I was told maybe God did not think I should be a parent but I turned that into God wants me to show Her how bad I want to be a parent. You can turn most everything around if you try hard enough. Most everyone can beat infertility with medical help but you do not have to do it alone. Talk your friends, talk to your spouse, talk to your clergy (if appropriate), and go to Attain Fertility or Resolve for advocacy, answered questions, and support. Arm yourself with support and knowledge and your self-doubt may lessen. Women who take this fight on are inspirational and testaments to what every good person parent or not can be. You put yourself out there in a way many may never understand. I firmly believe your husband’s want to know why they are drying the tears that may fall.
Life is so very short. Even if you live to be a hundred the best days of your life are only a blink in times eyes. The time span the average woman has to become pregnant is even shorter. When you struggle with fertility your time span seems even smaller because you have to eat up so much time going to doctors, getting medications, timing out your assisted conception schedules, and your regular life events. The average age of a first time father is 31 (in 2011). I was 39 in 2008 when my in-vitro daughter was born. If you are planning to go through the process please arm yourself with information and a support system. Even though time is always of the essence nearly anything is possible so never give up on yourself.
April is a big month for the infertility community. April 22 to 28 is National Infertility Awareness Week. Go to Resolve.org and read up on the legal issues that infertile families face, the financial issues they face, learn about new bills like the Family Act that could give financial relief to families going through assisted conception procedures by offering them a tax break, and most importantly of all find other families that are fighting your fight. Connect with like challenged families through their blogs. I promise the more you read the more you will not feel alone and you may find that there is a stranger out their brave enough to share the story that could very well be yours. I hope these things can help. Attain Fertility is a great site to visit as well. I wish you all good luck and love one another.
About the blogger:
My name is Andy Thornhill and I have also written an Ebook on my family’s journey called “The Longest Love Letter”. It is available for the Kindle and Nook. Please feel free to contact me through this blog page or on Infertility News You Can Use my Facebook infertility page.