Whew girl! This.is.exhausting. Am I right? It is not for the faint of heart. Because this journey through infertility isn’t easy. It’s overwhelming. It’s scary. It’s stressful! Goodness it’s stressful with all of the charting, the timing, and the planning for “intimate rendezvous” that isn’t so…well, intimate anymore. Because maybe it’s gotten more mechanical? It’s turned into business, not pleasure? And sometimes, doesn’t this journey just feel lonely? Because while your husband is by your side, his mind seems elsewhere. It’s as if he is somehow sleeping through your crisis. He isn’t talking about it and whenever you do, he doesn’t fully engage in the conversation. And him having an ugly cry and hiding underneath the covers because of another negative pregnancy test? That’s rare. Or his emotions? They are nothing like yours. And so you can’t help but think, “Does he know how serious this is?”
And those doctor’s appointments? Yikes! I have been in your seat and I can see you sitting in the waiting room nervous. Your palms are sweating. Heart racing. You can’t even sit still or concentrate as a million questions,“what if’s” and thoughts are racing through your mind. Fear, doubt and worry begin to cripple every part of your being the longer you must wait for your name to be called. Thinking your husband must feel the same, you look over, but there he is casually sitting in his chair, flipping through a magazine oblivious to what is happening. While watching him seem to be unfazed by it all, you become angry as you can’t help but think, “Does he know how serious this is?”
Or what about those negative pregnancy tests? They punch you in the gut and bring you to your knees on the bathroom floor, broken and crushed. You are sobbing and screaming, “When will it end?!” But there he is, still standing. He is trying to pick you up, hold you close, and whisper hope into your ear. He tells you that it will be okay. You will be okay. Together you will be okay and that it won’t always be this hard, this overwhelming or this stressful. He tries to tell you there is always next month. But all you can think is, “Does he know how serious this is?”
Or those small reminders you constantly see? Because while strolling through Target, sitting down for a nice steak dinner, or shopping in the mall, you see them at every turn. You see the pregnant woman with an adorable baby bump. You see the mother smiling with her children as she tickles their bellies. You see those cute onesies hanging in the display window. And as you see them, all.of.them, tears begin to fill your eyes as you can literally feel your heart breaking. But as you go to grab your husband’s hand and look to see if there is pain in his eyes, you discover that he never even noticed. And instantly you feel alone as you wonder again, “Does he know how serious this is?”
But friend, can I just tell you from one infertility wife to another, he does.
He knows the baby showers you attend hurt your soul beyond words. He knows the doctor appointments are sometimes too much for you to bear. He knows that baby dedications, Mother’s Day celebrations and other holidays, especially Christmas, cripple you to the core. He knows that the nine pregnant women you counted in Target will make you cry yourself to sleep. Or that one more negative pregnancy test might just break you. Because it’s breaking him. And you know what else he knows? He knows the shame. He knows the embarrassment, and the fear, and the disappointments. And he knows the tears. The tears you shed and the tears he sheds when no one, including you, is looking. And it’s all because he knows.
And he cares.
But if there is one thing I have learned throughout this journey, it is that our husbands deal with every aspect of infertility differently. They just do. They aren’t as emotional. They aren’t as open. They aren’t as stressed or fearful or hopeless. They just aren’t. And it’s not because they don’t know how serious this situation is, but it’s because they know if you both were a mess every month and curled up on the bathroom floor or pacing the hall before each doctor’s appointment, then who would be the one to pick us up when we fall? Who would calm us down and hold us tight when the doctor whispers words of defeat? Who would remind us while we are at our lowest point to never lose hope because next month might be different? And who would hold the umbrella when the grief of shattered dreams, negative pregnancy tests, and thoughts of fear come pouring down on us like an unexpected afternoon thunderstorm? Who? I will tell you. It’s him. He would….your husband…your biggest supporter…your superhero.
Because wives, he is your superhero even in the silence. Even in the awkward hugs and the band-aid words he uses to try to give you hope as he picks you up off the floor. He was born with that innate desire to “fix” what is broken and he longs to save the day. So let him. Let him give you that kiss on the forehead and tell you everything is okay rather than immediately shove him away or yell at him for being so irrationally optimistic. Let him feel as though he is rescuing his damsel in distress, because while his strategies are not the best, his heart and motives are pure.
It is his way of showing that he cares.
And he knows.
But wives while he is busy being your superhero, never forget to be busy letting him know that you think he is your superhero. Or that he is enough and completes you. Because it is so easy to do. It’s so easy to let our desires take over and cast a dark shadow over the blessings we already have in our lives. It’s so easy to stop making those most important to us, feel as though they are just that. Important. Which is not uncommon. It happened with the notorious Hannah of the Bible. Because even at one point in her struggle, her husband asked her, “Hannah why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”
That last question stings right? It always rocks me to the core and reminds me of how important it is to ensure that we make our husbands feel that even while we don’t have our own children yet, the time we have together with each other is just as important, special and fulfilling. And it reminds me that they want to be seen for more than just their ability to procreate. Just as we do.
So to my fellow infertility wives, let’s be busy making sure they don’t get lost in the shuffle of all the charting, timing, and doctors appointments. Let’s stay busy enjoying the journey of it just being two of us while we are on our way to our destination of making it the three…or four…or five of us. Let’s continually remind them daily through simple words and gestures that they are still our main squeeze, our better half, and our superhero. And let’s extend to them grace. Grace when they don’t engage in the conversation like we would hope or ask more questions at the doctor’s office. Grace when they don’t notice the pregnant women and the new mommies overtaking the church pew. And grace when their band-aid words, gentle kisses on the forehead, and big bear hugs don’t help. Because while you think he doesn’t know the seriousness of your situation, he does. But you know what else he knows? He knows when he isn’t enough. And he knows when you don’t think of him as your superhero.
So hug him a little tighter tonight. Kiss him a little longer and dig out that first love note or photo you took together; and let it be a reminder of why you fell in love in the first place. Because can we be gut wrenchingly honest together for just a second? What good is it to bring children, whether biological or adopted, into a family when your marriage is suffering and becoming shattered as a result of it?
~With all my love,
Your friend and fellow infertility wife