Women are not the only ones that struggle with the infertility process. Men can have fertility factors themselves. Our husbands are hurting with this journey too. If they are healthy–they still have to take on the support and love for their spouses. My husband is writing his perspective on this week’s blog. He has a biological child of his own from a previous marriage, but we had to live with the pain of not being able to create life together in our marriage due to my infertility. Here is his story:
First a little about my history. I have a child who is now 17 years old. My only child. She was pretty much my whole world. I coached her sports, I went to the park with her, I gave her pony tails and learned how to do all those from the time she was 2 years old. I never even scheduled baby sitters when I had her. I was as much of a full-time Dad as I could be. And believe me, those things are what drives people to be parents, to be the best they can be for another little human being. I was truly blessed. She brought joy to us while we endured the struggle. The fun things we all did. Well mostly the fun things they were able to do while I was working out-of-town a lot. But I felt some comfort in knowing that they were able to share something real and genuine. For my wife it may have just brought up thoughts of never doing that with her own child someday. So while it was wonderful to see I know it also caused her to think all of the “what ifs?”
When we first dated I was open to having another child. I also had moments where I wasn’t sure. I wavered for quite a while. Partly because I didn’t want to have my daughter think she was going to be replaced. Partly because I was getting older and worried about the energy and silly things like that. Things that deep down would have been just fine. I see myself as a really good Dad and I feel I’ve done a good job with my daughter. I thought long and hard about another child. It goes so fast and it’s rewarding, and I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of it so I decided, yes, I could do it again and be able to double up my efforts on being the same good dad I had always been. The beginning of it all was as normal as the next couple, aside from knowing my wife was not able to conceive to that point and knowing her history and monthly pain she’d go through. It really wasn’t until she started having the testing and procedures that we learned things may not happen as we thought.
I had no idea what Secondary Infertility meant or how it would become to define a part of me. I never had to think about it on those terms because I had a child. And that’s where our story kind of begins. The road that we have traveled to this point has had its ups and downs but I wouldn’t have traded it. Secondary Infertility is something that most people probably don’t even know exists or that it is an actual term. What happens when bad things happen that are out of your control? What happens when someone you love is hurting so bad that every aspect of their life seems like one failure after another? It’s moments like those where you learn the depths of your faith. Faith that things will always turn out ok. Sometimes waiting and working for things to be OK is a long journey. Infertility is such a journey. The ups and the downs. I tried to control what little I could. I tried to remain calm and positive thinking it would help my wife. Some days I think it did. Some probably not. And then there were the appointments, medications and monthly disappointment I’d see on her face affected me more than I ever let on. I didn’t show it often at all. But the helpless feeling I would get is not something I was used to. There were no words to make it “ok”. There were no gifts to give that would turn it all around. It’s was month after month of those same feelings. Inside of me was the thought of never being able to help her raise another child. And that is what affected me most. That I had been able to watch my daughter grow and share all those moments and that she may never have that chance.
It’s often said that men hold their feelings in and try not to display too much emotion. Or you can show emotion if it is a happy thing. For me that tends to be true. I consider myself a guy who keeps things as even as possible. I’m laid back, to a fault sometimes. All of that doesn’t mean guys don’t feel emotion or go through periods of pain and hurt. For us we have always been taught to be tough and strong. This was different. On one hand I had a child and on the other there was also a sense of impending loss. It’s hard to really describe what it all felt like. To me it was frustrating to see this process unfold the way it was. Something that shouldn’t that hard was becoming impossible and dealing with that was difficult. And it was increasing as the weeks went by.
The day came when everything had run its course. The hysterectomy day arrived. We had decided together that we had done all we could do both emotionally and financially. We were together on our decisions and we moved forward together knowing the outcome. There was still hope that last pregnancy test would look different. That somehow a miracle would happen. We always had that bit of hope. You have to. But alas it did not happen. We had been through a lot. I hurt for her. I would have taken all that pain and hurt and put it on me. She not only had the emotional pain but also the physical pain of all the procedures and finally the last procedure. I tried to be supportive and present knowing there wasn’t a lot I could do to make it go away or really nothing I could do to fix it. That’s where a lot of the hurt and sadness comes from. I’m supposed to protect and make things better, safe and happy. When you can’t do that it makes you feel helpless and inadequate. Still, I kept things in check and tried to continue to be positive and focused.
The journey is truly never-ending. There are days I know it hurts. It may always be that way. I have been sad and angry. Thinking I won’t have another opportunity to use what I’ve learned again. Am I thankful for what we have? There’s no doubt. We are exceedingly blessed in many ways. Could things have been worse for us? Absolutely. It doesn’t mean there are days where you tend to focus more on the things you could have had. I think every person in this situation does the same. There truly is no ending, only another day and another day and another day. You take a positive and turn it into two. There are days that are really bad and as time goes on there are more and more good days. Does time heal? In a sense it truly does.
How do you turn something sad and hurtful into a positive? By always remaining together. By being present for your wife when she’s at the bottom. By hurting right along with her. By not minimizing her feelings to try to make her feel better. By letting her grieve. By grieving alongside her. To be open about it. I confess I don’t share my feelings very often. Most important you always have hope When the light starts to come in little spurts is when you grasp a hold of that. To see some sort of light at the end of the tunnel. At first there isn’t much light at all. But after time goes by it does get a little bit better. It gets a little less painful. It gets a little brighter. You always hold on to hope. No matter what is going on, no matter what happens in any given day. I was once told that when you wake up every morning YOU choose whether you are going to have a good day. Nobody can choose that for you. Nobody can take that from you. Nobody can make you have a bad day. That is all your choice. While we did not have a child together we were able have my daughter and be able to do many wonderful things along the way. Perhaps that is why we met? That I had a young enough daughter to be there through all of this. To be able to watch her grow. We had both been blessed.
My point is there will always be other ways, new ways and new technologies as time goes on and as long as you have hope than anything is possible.