My wife once told me, “I do not blame you if you were to leave me to find a woman who could give you a child”. She told me this when we were in the midst of a several year struggle to have a baby through the use of medically assisted conception. We had already gone through several IUI cycles, a miscarriage, and were preparing for our first IVF. I was beside myself after hearing this statement. The truth was we both contributed to our fertility problems. I am pretty sure she meant what she said when she said it. She was being selfless and loved me (and hopefully still does) so much that she was willing to put her happiness on a shelf so I could find mine. To this day the comment shakes me and saddens me. I could not imagine a time in life where my wife would be happier in another man’s arms than my own. It is not that I am such a great catch but I know how much I love my wife and I would rather be hit by a Kansas City Portable Potty truck than to give her up. She is my every, everything. What could cause such self loathing to make a spouse think that letting go is a great option? The answer to that question is a bitch named Infertility.
Women do not ignore the fact that you are not defined by your fertility or lack thereof. For the purpose of the blog I will write in broad terms. I do not intend to offend or come off as a specialist on women’s emotions. I write of the things I have observed from both sexes in my life. A man oftentimes is driven by ego. A man’s ego more times than not is easily bruised. We men feel it is our duty to look after the fairer sex. If you say something to me about my wife in a negative fashion your day may end on a real bad not if I can make it happen. When a couple is faced with infertility and the woman has the health issue that is the culprit of the problem the man is helpless to protect her. When she has her weak moments there is no one the man can hold accountable. This is crushing for many male egos. Feeling helpless sucks. When a woman has fertility issues it will sometimes make her feel less a woman. Some women feel that when their spouse and them decide to have kids that the burden is on them. Less face it the man’s part in having babies is oftentimes relegated to doing what he likes, having sex. If he does not get her pregnant the first time he is not going to complain to get invited back to the bedroom Olympics. A woman has the responsibility of “getting” pregnant (an unfair, implied responsibility), carry the child to term, going through the pain of child birth, dealing with the body and emotion changes, and in some cases breastfeeding afterwards. Some women look forward to it. When a woman cannot get out of the gate she may feel like she is less of a woman because she cannot deliver a baby. This was the trigger my wife pulled. We had struggled and were only rewarded with pain. She did not think she was as much a woman as she wanted to be and thought I wanted her to be and she reached a low that is hard to understand if you have not been there. Feeling helpless sucks!!!
I have been a man for all 42 years of my life. I plan on being a man for the rest of my life and I have yet to meet the guy who tells me over a beer that he loves his girlfriend’s reproductive system and that is the reason he is marrying her. In my single days if I was thinking of my wife’s reproductive parts it was not to see how well the produced off spring. You marry someone because you love them and how they make you feel. You may discuss children but I doubt that fertility comes up and when it does very few men care about it. When I was twenty two I was dating a girl who was 34. She was asking me one day what I thought our future was together and told me that she was not even sure at her age if she could have kids. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to marry her but I knew I did not give a darn about her baby making abilities. Any man worth marrying will not ask for the fertility guarantee pre-nuptials. If you find one send him my way so my dogs can take a bite out of crime.
If I learned one thing in my years of marriage it is that when your wife has an emotion burned in her brain there is nothing you can do to change her mind. That does not mean you never stop trying. I ask women that battle infertility to remember some very simple things about themselves. You have friends. You probably have a friend or maybe two that would fight a pit bull to protect your honor. You have friends and family that love you because you are defined by your personality and your actions. If someone loves you (other than family) they probably did not love you the first time they meet you. They learned to love you as they learned about you. You are your actions. You are what you do for others. You are you because you were born amazing. The fact that you choose to subject yourself to the difficult task of medically assisted conception is a testament to the levels you are willing to reach to have a child. A man will not take no for an answer but keep doing the same thing with the same results. A woman will not take no for an answer but she will seek another way and reach her desired goal. My wife never took no for an answer. I did but not her. Our only fight as a married couple was whether we continued down infertility road. I was so concerned with the toll it was taking on her. She did not care because she is amazing and she won the argument and a few short months later our journey ended after our second IVF cycle gave us Emma Dae Thornhill.
We got lucky or maybe my incredible wife made our luck. During our struggles I never once thought I needed to bail out for a chance with another’s reproductive ability. I never once thought of my wife as her infertility. Her friends and our family never looked at her that way. Hell the dog never looked at her that way. The dog loved her because she fed her and petted her. She made the dog happy and as silly as it sounds that relationship is like that of humans. We define our wives, husbands, and friends as the ones that make us happy. The ones that make our life worth living. The ones we cannot wait to see a movie with. The ones that we know will not judge us but will keep us grounded when we need to be. The ones we have memories with. The ones that hold our hands on dark days. The ones we cannot live without. That is how we define people. You would never define a person for having cancer, or being blind, or being dyslexic so why would you define yourself by your fertility. As I said I know how hard it is to change a woman mind about her impressions of herself but I will not stop trying because this is one time I have no doubt that I am right. You are amazing and this too will pass. When these difficult times pass I hope they do with fulfilled dreams. Never give up on yourself.
For more information on infertility please visit the below links.
NOTE: When I was discussing with my wife what I was going to write for Resolves Blogging project again this year I told her I was not sure what to write about. I rarely find myself in this spot. Without hesitating she gave me my title and she inspired the rest. I dedicate this blog to my wife.
ABOUT THE BLOGGER:
I am Andy Thornhill. I keep a fertility blog on Word Press called “Sunshine Dreams and Hopes”. I wrote a book to my daughter about the story before her birth. It is a tribute to why I think women (my wife particularly) are amazing and it is called “The Longest Love Letter”. It is available as an E-Book for Kindle and Nook. I also have Facebook page called “Infertility News You Can Use”. I intend it to be a place where others can share their experience through blogs, news, and just supporting each other. I wish everyone the very best.