When you were a child you could not wait to be an adult. When you became an adult you could do all you wanted. You would make the calls in your life and no one was going to change that. You could do anything. If you wanted to be a fireman then dammit you could be a fireman. If you wanted to buy a house then all you had to do was pick one, any one. Life was going to be that simple. You would marry the girl you wanted and when you were ready you would have a child. Some of the things you knew would happen as child happened. You got lucky and married an amazing women and after a while you try to have a child and that is where things get slippery. You have a low sperm count and she has endometriosis.
It does not matter what the combination is of infertility bad luck because it sucks either way. You begin a long painful journey trying to navigate the unpredictable tides of a battle with infertility. There will be a long list of wonderful surprises and socks to the gut awaiting you. You will find yourself judged by people you never thought would judge you. People in their judgement will say thoughtless things. They may try to make light of the situation out their ignorance by saying that you get to enjoy sex more or they may even offer to “stand in” for you in the bedroom in a twisted vomiting of nervous words. A man will feel his machismo challenged and will sometimes bury his feelings to protect himself and seem stronger for the woman he loves. A man may very likely not start up a conversation with his boys over beer and a cornhole board about his inability to make his wife pregnant. That will be the unicorn of male conversations. A man will stand strong for his wife. He may not know what to say to her about his or her perceived “short-comings”. He will fight often for the right words to soothe. He will do small gestures to mask the events if but for a second. He may buy her flowers or ask her to have a date night. He will hope against all that is reasonable that maybe for a second she will forget about the emotional war at hand. Men truly are from Mars and women are from Venus but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Women will take the full blow of this invisible pain in the heart called infertility. For a woman it will be a direct blow. She will need every bit of support and understanding to trudge through infertile waters. She is the vessel by which life finds its way to existence and she will feel as if that vessel has irreparable damage. She will feel like every eye that looks at her knows she is broken. The truth is she is not broken but you will not convince her otherwise. She will be the one that bares the pain of life loss and she will feel like she has let down the man she loves. She will feel alone and misunderstood. There will be a pile of information laid out before her by her doctors proving that she is not the first or last to deal with infertility but she will still feel like the rare unicorn in the room. The first and only. Her pain will be different in her heart. Her friends will unintentionally say inappropriate things to her about the problem at hand. She will get angry at things she would normally laugh at. She will cry. She will doubt herself. She may hate herself. Not a person will understand. The world truly has dealt her a painful lowly blow.
There is another couple out there too. There is the family that never seeks help. They either are afraid to face the battle or hear the words that lay out a long hard but negotiable path. They have the conversation with each other that is never discussed with anyone else. They don’t want to face the bitch of infertility. They may not want to face it because they don’t know what to do or where to go. They may just be afraid of the unknown. They may not be able to afford to start the journey and that is a double whammy. This family comes to all the parties but quietly walks away from the mildest conversation about children. This is the family that breaks my heart themes because they suffer silently and openly.
Yet another group is the one that had a kid. They got lucky through medically assisted conception but now their child is five or six and sees all her friends with siblings and can’t understand why they are an only child. The mother is deeply hurt and feels like they have let their child down. They are fully aware how lucky they are to have one child. They fought for years to get one but it still they want more for their miracle. She relives all the pain of infertility issues.
I am the father of an IVF child. I have seen all of the above families and have lived their pain. I have watched helplessly as my wife wrestled with infertility demons. Demons I could not exorcise. You are not alone in your pain. You are not alone in your confusion. You are not the first and surely not the last but if you brave the trail you may help others. Your story could bring light to someones darkness. One of our best weapons against the emotionally draining battle of infertility is each other and our experiences. We are stronger together. If you don’t feel comfortable talking just google infertility blogs and you will find so many stories that will closely match yours. This will not solve your infertility but sometimes knowing you are not a unicorn makes it e little easier to live with. We love you all and wish you the best.
This is my third year writing a blog for this annual Resolve event. I will never forget where we were and how we felt. We are fortunate we had a child but I still see hurt in my wife eyes from time to time as she enters a new level of the infertility struggle. No matter where you are in your struggle you are not alone. You are important and you are loved. Below are links that will help you to better understand infertility. Please consider surfing the web for others personal stories.
- http://www.resolve.org/about-infertility/what-is-infertility/ (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.)
- http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html (About NIAW)
In 2011 I wrote The Longest Love Letter. The E Book is the true story of our infertility journey. It leaves little to the imagination but is the most honest thing I have ever written. It is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.